Onyx is often confused with marbles, yet it is a significantly different rock type. Onyx is a sedimentary rock, formed as stalactites and stalagmites in cave interiors.
This formation method results in the cryptocrystalline construction of the rock fabric, and it is the size and uniformity of these crystals that contribute to the classic translucent property of most varieties.
These stones are easily identified by the various bands of color present in the stone. These color bands can occur in any shade, except for blue and purple. On an average, onyx stones usually contain bands that are white, brown and tan in color. It also comes in a greenish-white color and has obvious layers, though they do not alternate colors and are not perfectly parallel. It is translucent and almost soft in texture.
Striking effects are produced when onyx is illuminated with back-lights. While vulnerable to chemical and abrasive attack, the decorative appeal of onyx is perhaps unsurpassed by any other material.
Onyx is often used for making decorative items as well as utility items such as wine goblets, bowls, urns and vases.
One of the most popular uses of onyx stone in the house is in the form of sink basins. Sink basins are an essential commodity in any house, and the stone gives users a chance to upgrade their plain, boring basins into attractive and eye-catching pieces. With onyx stone sink basins people can lend a luxurious and elegant touch to the bathroom or kitchen. Sink basins are extremely popular with those looking to design traditional, subtly beautiful bathrooms.
Onyx, Amber and Alabaster slabs and tiles are the highest quality stone available from anywhere in the world. Onyx slabs and tiles in exotic colors are now available from the rare mountain ranges of Italy, Chile, The Amazon, Pakistan and Afghanistan. These semi-precious materials are readily available.
Often mistaken for marble is serpentine, which is actually magnesium-silicate based as opposed to calcite based. As a result of the different mineralogy and whole rock chemistry of serpentine, it exhibits greater acid resistance and abrasion resistance than does a true marble. These properties make serpentine a common choice for both kitchen counter and exterior application.