An onyx engagement ring is an excellent option for the bride-to-be looking for something unique and edgy. After all, has there ever been a more versatile neutral than black?
What Is Onyx?
Onyx is a semi-precious gemstone characterized by bands within the stone that run parallel to one another. It is a sub-variety of the layered mineral chalcedony.
A distinguishing characteristic of onyx is its color. Onyx stones are most typically black with white bands. Though less common, onyx can also be found in green or reddish-brown called sardonyx. Fans of the ornate, antique looks of the Victorian era or the bold geometry of the Art Deco aesthetic may also want to consider an onyx engagement ring, as the stone was popular in both time periods.
“I recently had a bride come in who doesn’t wear jewelry very often,” says New York City jeweler Ashley Zhang. “To her, a diamond didn’t feel genuine. She didn’t want anything flashy. She wanted something unique and different. After looking at everything I had, she settled on an onyx ring because it was really simple, clean and modern.”
Meet the Expert
Ashley Zhang is a New York City-based fine jeweler. Her pieces have been featured in publications such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and worn by celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, Bella Hadid, and Dua Lipa.
The History of Onyx Gemstones
Per Zhang, the word onyx is derived from the ancient Greek word for claw. “The story is that while Venus slept, her fingernails were trimmed, and the gods turned these clippings into the stone known as onyx,” she says.
Throughout history, onyx has been used in protective amulets, rosaries, and cameos. During the Victorian era, it became a favorite stone in mourning jewelry. “The jewelry of this period reflected the monarch’s style,” says Zhang. “Queen Victoria expressed her sadness at the loss of her husband, Prince Albert, through her fashion choices.”
Today, onyx is associated with the Zodiac sign Leo and is also a traditional gemstone gift for 7th wedding anniversaries.
What to Look for in an Onyx Ring
“I’m not the biggest fan of color—maybe because I’m a New Yorker—and when you have an engagement ring, you should be able to wear it with everything,” she says. “Onyx really lends itself to that, so you can do a lot in terms of styling.” Not to mention, it's generally more affordable than diamonds.
As with all engagement rings, you’ll want to work with a reputable jeweler you trust. Banded calcite, a less valuable mineral, and other stones can be dyed and passed off as onyx. Beyond that, Zhang says to look for scratches and chips on the surface of the stone, particularly if you’re considering a vintage ring.
How to Care for Your Onyx Ring
“Onyx is softer than diamond, but it is still an easy stone to care for,” says Zhang. “Steam or ultrasonic cleanings are safe, but you want to avoid extreme heat or chemicals. Soap and water is always safe and easy.”
Another protective measure Zhang recommends is to opt for a bezel setting for your onyx stone. “The bezel is a frame of metal around a stone,” she explains. “This is a smart way to set the stone, as when you hit the ring during everyday wear the metal will take most of the pressure.” This decreases the chance of the stone cracking or chipping.
Ready to start shopping for your onyx engagement ring? Scroll down for stunning options.
Kasia Jewelry Onyx Ring
Statement prongs bring the drama with this 3.8ct emerald-cut black onyx ring, while a quarter band of diamonds (0.09ct worth) brings the bling.
SHOP NOW: Kasia Jewelry, $1,680
Onyx Pavé Diamond Rolling Ring
Part of Ashley Zhang’s signature “rolling ring” collection, the interlocking rings in this piece are designed to intentionally move while you wear it. The hand-cut emerald-cut onyx can be set in a yellow or white gold band, and the cut-down style pavé band allows for a hint of metal to shine between each of the diamonds.
SHOP NOW: Ashley Zhang, $2,200
Rebel Onyx & Diamond Ring
For the bride-to-be looking for a dose of Old World glamour, this French-made vintage stunner is just the ticket. The center 1.3ct onyx is bezel-set in platinum, surrounded by a halo of 14 diamonds, and accented by more onyx in each corner.
SHOP NOW: Victor Barboné Jewelry, $6,690
Neil Lane Old European-Cut Diamond and Onyx Ring
Neil Lane, the designer behind engagement rings on The Bachelor, is also the designer behind this Jazz Age-inspired style. It features a 1ct Old European-cut diamond set in an octagonal onyx frame and platinum band.
SHOP NOW: Neil Lane, $17,000
Knox Onyx Ring
Part prim and proper—and part rock ‘n’ roll—this gorgeous ring features an emerald-cut onyx buttressed by two 3mm accent diamonds.
SHOP NOW: Olive Avenue Jewelry, $850
Sweet Melissa Black Onyx Ring
This understated statement piece feels especially feminine thanks to a pear-cut onyx and a delicate three-prong setting. Five diamond accents run down the band on each side for shimmer.
SHOP NOW: Shop No. 3, $1,950
Ippolita Lollipop Small Ring
A 0.51mm onyx gets famed Italian jewelry designer Ippolita Rostangno’s signature Lollipop treatment in this timeless ring. The purposefully uneven facets allow for a unique sparkle not always seen with onyx stones, which is only amplified by the 0.18ct bezel-set diamond halo.
SHOP NOW: Ippolita Jewelry, $1,695
Châtelaine Pavé Bezel Ring with Black Onyx
Love David Yurman’s signature rope motif? The braided band on this faceted onyx ring is a cool update, while the diamond halo around the center stone makes the style feel engagement-worthy.
SHOP NOW: David Yurman, $850
Bhansali Cushion-Cut Ring With Diamonds
Take everyone’s breath away with this celeb-worthy Bhansali style. With diamonds surrounding and centered on a 13mm cushion-cut onyx, this ring will make every outfit feel red carpet-worthy.
SHOP NOW: Bergdorf Goodman, $5,950
Legend Amrapali Star Stack Ring
Calling all Leos! Honor your star sign with this celestial style from NYC-based fine jewelry line Legend Amrapali. The faceted black onyx star is set in a yellow-gold band and surrounded by a diamond pavé halo.
SHOP NOW: Neiman Marcus, $1,795
Bewitched Black Onyx 3-Stone Ring
Sweet and traditional, this ring features a faceted oval center stone buttressed by white diamonds. Its simple style makes it a prime match for curved stacking bands on either side.
SHOP NOW: Marrowfine, $2,500
Oval Black Onyx Split Shank Halo Ring
A split shank and diamond halo lend an air of opulence to this engagement ring. The faceted oval onyx stone is prong set for an extra layer of security.
SHOP NOW: Angara, $1,449
Effy Eclipse Onyx and Diamond Teardrop Ring
Show your significant other they’ve twisted around your heart with vine-like diamond wraps around a 6.3ct pear onyx.
SHOP NOW: Effy Jewelry, $1,295
Black Onyx Cushion Ring
Sleek and modern, this onyx ring is perfect for the minimalist. Cushion-cut stones are classic and a favorite among brides, including celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Meghan Markle.
SHOP NOW: Blue Nile, $450