Published July 2014  •  Updated August 2022  •  Read Time: 7 minutes
Sardonyx is a famous variety of banded Agate.  The best quality pieces have three distinct colors: Sard (better known as Carnelian), Onyx, and Snow Quartz.  Sometimes the colors form stripes, other times they are mixed together more randomly.  Because the color contrast is so vivid, Sardonyx is often carved in relief, so that one color stands out from the background.  Energetically, Sardonyx is a mixture of the bright confidence of Carnelian with the steady grounding of Onyx.  It is a wonderful choice for couples who want to ensure their relationship is happy and healthy.  Sardonyx would be an usual but very thoughtful wedding gift.

Sardonyx

Sardonyx Meaning

Spiritual Healing Properties

Sardonyx encourages us to to actively create a meaningful existence, one that brings us emotional, mental, and spiritual satisfaction. It gives us the strength and determination needed to achieve our goals. It also pushes us to be virtuous and kind – to follow the “Golden Rule” and treat all beings with respect. Sardonyx reminds us that life is good! The sheer act of being here, now, and able to enjoy life is a blessing. When we live with that attitude, our life automatically becomes more joyful and generous.

Metaphysical Properties Sardonyx
Chakra Root, Sacral, Solar Plexus and Third Eye
Element Earth and Fire
Numerology 3
Zodiac Aries

Emotional Healing Properties

Sardonyx’s energy celebrates friends and lovers, and as such is one of the most powerful stones for a happy and healthy marriage. It can also be used to attract new friends and wonderful partnerships. Sardonyx helps us to stay grounded, confident, and hopeful. With it, we are always ready to lend a helping hand to all those in need, while also taking care of ourselves and those closest to us. Sardonyx is a joyful and courageous stone, one that reminds us that true happiness lies in helping ourselves and helping others, both deeds done for the betterment of all.

Mental Healing Properties

Sardonyx is a wonderful mental stone, strengthening our ability to understand information and discern between truth and fiction. In particular, it helps us to see how the little things, our daily habits, add up to create our bigger reality. By changing our habits, even just small ones, we can significantly change ourselves and our world. Sardonyx also encourages us to cultivate self-control and, particularly during intense situations, to allow our logical minds a chance to think, before we get emotionally carried away.

Physical Healing Properties

Sardonyx is believed to help strengthen our sensory organs, particularly sight and hearing. It is often used by metaphysical healers to help regulate digestive and eliminative systems as well as to heal the immune system. Sardonyx is also said to be an extremely effective anti-depressant.

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Sardonyx Mineralogy

Where does Sardonyx come from?

Agates are found all over the world.  The banded variety called Sardonyx is found in Brazil, India, Macedonia, Sri Lanka, and Uruguay.

Mining and Treatments

Sardonyx is typically mined in it’s primary deposit in association with the igneous rock in which it formed.  Agates are common minerals that not valuable enough to be the primary focus of any large-scale mining operation.  It is however commonly mined in tandem with other precious metals and minerals in small-scale and artisanal mines, especially if the stones are particularly colorful or distinctive.  Agates are also found in alluvial deposits, sometimes completely loose loose and already naturally polished in rivers and on beaches.  Agates are usually ball or almond-shaped nodules ranging in size from a fraction of an inch to several yards in diameter.  If the Agate fills the entire hollow space left by the gas bubble, it is called an Agate Almond.  If a hollow remains in the center, it is called an Agate Geode.

Sardonyx Placeholder
Sardonyx

Mineral Family

Sardonyx is a silicate mineral.  Silicates are minerals which contain the elements Silicon (a light gray shiny metal) and Oxygen (a colorless gas). There are six main groups of Silicate minerals, and these main groups are further subdivided into secondary subdivisions, such as Quartz and Feldspar. Quartz is divided into two main groups, macrocrystalline and microcrystalline.  Macrocrystalline quartz has well-formed crystals that are large enough to be seen by the naked eye, for example, Amethyst or Clear Quartz.  Microcrystalline quartz has crystals so small they can only be seen through a microscope.  These are typically grouped together under the name Chalcedony, or it’s subcategories Agate and Jasper.  Microcrystalline quartz can be colorless or appear in every shade of the rainbow.  Sardonyx should have three colors, Sard (orange chalcedony, more commonly known as Carnelian), Onyx (black chalcedony) and Snow Quartz (white chalcedony).  Sometimes only two of the colors are present, typically black/white or orange/white.

Fire Agate’s energy works well with its family – other Agates.  Try it in combination with Apricot Agate, Blue Lace Agate, Botswana Agate, Crazy Lace Agate, Dendritic Agate, Fire Agate, Gray Agate, Moss Agate, and Tree Agate.

Sardonyx Formation and Crystal Associates

Agates are created after a volcanic explosion has transformed magma and lava into igneous rock. During the cooling down period, various gases form bubbles, which then become hollow spaces in the igneous rock.  Agates are formed long afterwards, when silica-bearing water permeates the rocks and begins to fill the hollow spaces.  Sometimes the hollow fills quickly and the resulting Agate is a solid color or has a random scattering of trace inclusions.  Depending on which inclusions are added, the Agate will take on a variety of different colors, patterns and transparency levels.

Sardonyx and other striped stones are formed more slowly, with one layer of silica-water solidifying, before another layer is deposited on top.  This sequence is repeated over and over until the hollow is filled.  Some of the layers will have picked up different trace elements or different quantities of the same element, resulting in bands of different colors.

Sardonyx’s energy works well with its “friends” – crystal associates formed in the same geological environment.  Try it in combination with Carnelian, Clear Quartz, Onyx, and Snow Quartz

Mineralogy Sardonyx
Chemical Formula SiO2
Cleavage None
Color Orange, black, and white
Crystal System Hexagonal/trigonal
Form/Habit Cryptocrystalline
Fracture Conchoidal
Hardness – Mohs Scale 7
Luminescence Green (long wave) / Yellowish-white (short wave)
Luster Vitreous
Mineral Family Tectosilicate
Specific Gravity 2.
Streak White
Transparency Translucent to opaque

History of Sardonyx

The history of Sardonyx can be difficult to trace, as there is quite a bit of confusion about what this gemstone actually looks like! According to some modern sources it is Sard (Also called Orange Agate or Carnelian) with white bands. Other sources unite Sard with Onyx (also called Black Agate). Still others attribute a wide variety of colors to it, blending together every shade of Agate. Regardless of which colors are included, part of what makes Sardonyx such a fascinating stone is that the different color layers lend themselves well to carving. Some of the most wonderful cameo pieces ever created are Sardonyx or banded Agate stones.

For example, the Great Cameo of France was created in the 1st century.  There are two different dates and interpretations of the cameo.  But based on the women’s hairstyle, it seems most likely that this cameo shows the Emperor Tiberius and his designated heirs Caligula, Claudius and Nero.  The women are Livia, Tiberias’ wife, and Agrippina the young, the mother of Nero.  Above them, flies the previous emperor, the newly-defied Augustus.

The oldest known reference to Sardonyx is an 11th century lapidary, a text which describes gemstones and their powers. According to its author, Marbod:

“The Sard and Onyx in one name unite,

And from the union spring three colors bright.

O’er jetty black the brilliant white is spread

and o’er the white diffused a fiery red:

If clear the colors, if distinct the line,

Where still unmixed the various layers join,

Such we for beauty and value prize.

Rarest of all that teeming earth supplies.”

Cameo, Sardonyx

The Great Cameo of France

Despite its beauty, Marbode then states that the stone has no powers, besides the ability to neutralize negative emotions. This continued to be the general consensus for the stone for some time, until Camillus Leonardus wrote his lapidary in the 16th century. While he agreed that Sardonyx calmed negative emotions, he took it a step further and said that it also “makes men merry and agreeable.”

Today, Sardonyx is one of the birthstones for the month of August and is also believed to be one of the twelve Biblical Foundation Stones listed in Revelations XXI. Each of these stones is carved with the name of one of the Apostles. Sardonyx has been proposed as a stone for both James and Bartholomew.