Sardonyx: Stone of Bravery

On their way to the battlefield, Roman soldiers often wore a stone talisman engraved with the image of Mars, the god of war. Believed to fuel a warrior’s courage, this stone was called sardonyx. This sardonyx stone is found in bands of red and white. What exactly is this sardonyx gemstone? What makes sardonyx a stone of valor?

Sardonyx Properties

Sardonyx is a variety of onyx, and by extension agate, the banded form of chalcedony quartz. Where onyx is composed of black and white bands, the sardonyx gemstone consists of red and white. The red bands of a sardonyx stone is precisely what the name sard-onyx suggests: sard. Sard is the deeper, darker occurrence of carnelian, the red variety of chalcedony. Indeed, the sardonyx mineral consists of alternate layers of sard and white chalcedony.


A slice of raw sardonyx

Sardonyx cameo of an eagle

A sardonyx cameo of an eagle
Source: Marie-Lan Nguyen via Wikimedia Commons

Sardonyx History

Sardonyx has been in wide use since ancient times. What with its layers of different colors, the sardonyx gemstone was a favorite material for cameos, as well as seals. Mars, the Roman god of war, was the most popular image to carve on a sardonyx stone. Sardonyx is a stone of courage believed to make its wearer fearless. With the image of Mars engraved on a sardonyx crystal, soldiers often wore the talisman in battle to enhance their valor, and bring them victory in war.

The sardonyx gem was worn by lawyers as well. This was to ensure their confidence in the courtroom, and make them more eloquent in their argument.

Sardonyx Meaning

Much of the metaphysical properties attributed to sardonyx come from the same set associated with sard, the red bands on a sardonyx stone. Sard is believed to sharpen the wits of its wearer, making him fearless and happy. In fact, not only is the sardonyx gemstone said to boost happiness and other positive emotions, but is also believed to dispel melancholy, such as red stones are thought capable of.

Sardonyx as Birthstone

Sardonyx is the birthstone of several months and the zodiac sign Leo.

Leo. Sardonyx is a traditional birthstone for the zodiac sign Leo. Leos are the biggest personality of the zodiac; people under this sign are known to display enormous courage. The stone of valor, the sardonyx stone is indeed representative of the mighty Lion, who never backs down and knows how to keep his wits. See also Leo Birthstones.

Months. Sardonyx is assigned as birthstone to quite a few months. Sardonyx is the traditional birthstone for August as far back as the ancient Arabic culture and Polish, which at the same time designates sardonyx as the September birthstone. The Romans likewise regarded sardonyx as the stone for September. Russian culture, on the other hand, places the sardonyx stone in the month of July along with ruby.

Sardonyx Jewelry

Beside cameo, sardonyx is made into just about any piece of jewelry, including pendants for fine rings, earrings and necklaces. The hardness of a sardonyx stone, which ranges from 6 to 7 in the Mohs scale, makes it quite a durable gemstone for jewelry-making. On the other hand, the affordability of the sardonyx gemstone makes the semi-precious stone a staple in beaded necklaces and bracelets, as agates are in general. Sardonyx is the traditional birthstone for September, specifically in the Arabic and Polish calendar, as well as the month of August in the ancient Russian calendar. With this time-tested popularity, sardonyx is unlikely to give up its place among the much loved gemstones in the world of jewelry.

Sardonyx Value

In antiquity sardonyx was at times more valuable than gold and sapphire. Today, the sardonyx gemstone is an affordable semi-precious often made into beaded jewelry. As in other beaded jewelry, much of the value of a sardonyx stone lies in the design and craftsmanship of the finished product. The sardonyx gem is still set as pendant for rings and fine necklaces, and may be more valuable when cut in a way that beautifully displays the red and white banding that sardonyx is known for.

Do you like sardonyx?

The red-and-white variety of agate, a sardonyx stone is believed to bestow courage to its wearer, making him confident, even fearless. Do you like the sardonyx gemstone? Do you like wearing red stones in general?

Do you like to wear sardonyx jewelry?

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Published August 9, 2015Last updated May 20, 2016

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