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Striped, semiprecious variety of the silica mineral agate with white and black alternating bands. Other varieties include carnelian onyx, with white and red bands, and sardonyx, with white and brown bands. Its properties are the same as those of quartz. Onyx is used in carved cameos and intaglios because its layers can be cut to show a colour contrast between the design and the background. It is found worldwide, but chiefly in India and South America.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on onyx, visit Britannica.com.