A mystic onyx is a type of banded black and white agate that is often used in jewelry and ornamental objects. The distinctive banding patterns and bold contrast make mystic onyx a popular material among artisans and designers. But what exactly is mystic onyx mixed with to achieve its unique aesthetic? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how mystic onyx is created and what it is combined with during the manufacturing process.
What is Mystic Onyx?
Mystic onyx refers to a material made from banded calcite that is dyed black and white to achieve a banded agate-like appearance. Natural black and white banded agates do exist, but they are relatively rare compared to other agate varieties. Most commercially sold mystic onyx is man-made.
The manufacturing process starts with layered calcite, which naturally forms in alternating bands of white and brown. The brown layers are dyed black while the white layers are left untouched. This gives the material the distinctive parallel black and white banding that mimics the patterning seen in natural agates like onyx.
Some key facts about mystic onyx:
- It is manufactured from banded calcite, not natural agate.
- The black color comes from dye applied to the brown layers of calcite.
- It is also sometimes called “banded onyx” or “onyx agate.”
- Mystic onyx rates between 5-6 on the Mohs hardness scale.
- It is porous and requires sealant before use in jewelry.
With its striking bands of contrasting color, mystic onyx has an undeniable visual appeal. But how does the manufacturing process work to transform ordinary calcite into this eye-catching material?
How Mystic Onyx is Made
Mystic onyx starts as natural banded calcite, which is mined in places like Mexico. Banded calcite forms through a natural geological process where layers of calcium carbonate are deposited over time. This gives the stone an appearance of stacked bands or stripes.
The calcite is sorted to select material with nicely defined alternating bands of white and brown coloration. Brown and white are the naturally occurring colors of banded calcite. The brown layers will be transformed into black during the dyeing process.
Once suitable material is chosen, the calcite goes through an industrial dying process. The brown stripes of the stone are immersed in a black dye solution. This allows the dark dye to soak into the porous layers of calcite, staining it black. The white layers are left untreated.
After dying, the stones are cut into slabs that showcase the dramatic patterning. The slabs are polished to a smooth, glossy surface finish that enhances the contrast between the black and white.
The end result is the eye-catching banded stone known as mystic onyx. Minor variations in the thickness and straightness of the bands exist between stones, adding to the uniqueness of each piece.
What is Mystic Onyx Mixed With?
As we’ve learned, mystic onyx contains just two main components:
- Naturally banded calcite
- Black dye
The calcite makes up the body of the stone. Its innate banding provides the palette for dyeing.
The black dye applied to the brown layers of calcite is the key ingredient that transforms the material into mystic onyx. The dye permeates the porous calcite to stain it an inky black.
This two-step process of selecting banded calcite and dyeing it is responsible for the finished look of mystic onyx. No other substances are mixed in during manufacturing.
However, some additional chemicals may be applied as coatings on the finished mystic onyx:
Since mystic onyx is porous, sealants are often applied to reduce staining and increase durability. Wax or resin coatings prevent dyes from leaching out and provide protection from scratches.
Clear lacquers applied in thin layers help polish mystic onyx to a smooth, glossy luster. The lacquer fills in tiny cracks and pits in the material for an enhanced reflective surface.
So in summary:
– The body of mystic onyx is composed of banded calcite.
– Black dye is infused into the brown layers to create the color patterning.
– Sealers or lacquers may be added as protective surface coatings.
But no other substances are intrinsically blended with the calcite and dye during the manufacturing process. Those two components are sufficient to create the distinctive look of mystic onyx.
How is Mystic Onyx Used?
Thanks to its visually striking patterns, mystic onyx is popular for use in a variety of applications:
The bold black and white banding makes mystic onyx ideal for fashioning into jewelry items like rings, pendants, bracelets and more. It can be cut into cabochons or tumbled for a smooth finish.
Slabbed and polished mystic onyx serves as an eye-catching material for ornamental objects like paperweights, bookends, and sculpture bases. The stone’s hardness makes it durable for functional decor pieces.
Mystic onyx tiles add a sophisticated black and white accent wall. The stone’s banded patterning creates depth and visual interest.
Mystic onyx’s color contrast and straight, parallel banding are perfect aesthetics for a chess or checkerboard. It brings a natural stone look to a game board.
The stone can be shaped into bowls, sinks, and fountain components. The coloration adds natural drama to waterfall and water features.
Mystic onyx tiles or slabs make an elegant flooring material, especially for low-traffic indoor areas. The varied bands have dynamic movement underfoot.
Tabletops, counters, shelves, and cabinets projects allow mystic onyx’s beautiful bands to take visual center stage.
From jewelry to home decor, mystic onyx makes a chic style statement wherever it’s used. Its manufacturing process transforms ordinary banded calcite into a stunningly patterned natural stone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is mystic onyx natural?
Mystic onyx is not considered a natural stone, but rather a manufactured product. It’s created by dyeing layers of banded calcite. While materials like calcite and dye are used in its production, the finished mystic onyx does not occur naturally in its recognizable banded form.
What makes the black and white patterns?
The black and white banding is achieved through a multi-step industrial process. First, naturally layered calcite with brown and white banding is selected. Then, the brown stripes are soaked in a black dye. This converts them to black while leaving the white layers unchanged. The result is parallel bands of black and white mimicking the look of natural agate.
Is mystic onyx valuable?
Mystic onyx is affordable and readily available thanks to efficient modern manufacturing techniques. It costs significantly less than natural black and white agates. Pieces under 10 carats usually sell for $1-2 per carat. Larger slabs for decoration or furniture may cost $5-10 per square foot.
How should I care for mystic onyx jewelry?
Avoid exposing mystic onyx jewelry to harsh chemicals like acids, bleaches or solvents. The dye could leach out, damaging the pattern. Use a gentle jewelry cleaner and soft brush to remove dirt. Store pieces carefully to prevent scratches or chips to the stone. Consider applying wax or lacquer periodically to enhance protection.
Can mystic onyx go in water?
Prolonged water exposure can damage mystic onyx over time. The water could carry away protective sealers and cause the dyed black color to fade. However, occasional brief contact with water, like when washing hands while wearing a ring, generally won’t harm a properly sealed mystic onyx piece. Take care to dry it thoroughly.
Mystic onyx has become a popular decorative and jewelry stone, treasured for its distinctive black and white banding. But unlike naturally patterned agates, mystic onyx achieves its aesthetic through an industrial manufacturing process. The alternating color bands are created by dyeing some layers of banded calcite black while leaving others white. This reveals the parallel patterning. No other additives or treatments are used aside from applying protective sealers or lacquers to the finished material. With proper care, mystic onyx’s eye-catching beauty can be enjoyed for many years across a diverse array of applications from wall tiles to chess boards. Its crafting process allows this manufactured stone to mimic one of nature’s dazzling agate patterns.