The beauty and mystique of the black onyx have captivated the hearts and minds of gemstone enthusiasts for centuries. With its deep black hue and striking appearance, this semi-precious stone has become a favourite in the world of jewellery and healing stones.
But one question that often arises among black onyx aficionados is whether or not this captivating gemstone should get wet. Opinions on this matter vary, with some asserting that water enhances the stone’s energy, while others argue that it could cause harm.
In this blog post, we’ll dive into the depths of this debate, exploring the pros and cons of exposing black onyx to water, and uncovering the truth behind this fascinating gemstone’s relationship with the wet element. Prepare to embark on a journey that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the enigmatic black onyx, and the knowledge to care for it in the best possible way.
What Is Black Onyx Made From?
Black onyx is a variety of chalcedony, which is a type of microcrystalline quartz. It is composed of tightly intergrown microscopic silica crystals, primarily made up of silicon dioxide (SiO2). The black color of onyx comes from the presence of impurities, such as iron and carbon, within the crystal structure. These impurities are evenly distributed throughout the stone, giving it a uniform and deep black appearance.
What Does Submerging Black Onyx In Water Do?
Fades The Colour
While black onyx is a relatively durable gemstone, it is not entirely immune to the potential effects of prolonged water exposure. One such effect is the fading of the stone’s color. Although this is not a common issue with black onyx, it is still possible under certain conditions. Here are some reasons why submerging black onyx in water may cause its color to fade:
Impurities in the water: If the water contains minerals, salts, or other impurities, it can react with the stone, leading to a fading or dulling of the black color over time. This is particularly true if the stone is exposed to water with high mineral content, such as hard water, for extended periods.
Dyed or treated onyx: Some black onyx stones on the market have been treated or dyed to enhance their color. Prolonged exposure to water can cause the dye to leach out or the treatment to degrade, resulting in a faded appearance. It is important to note that not all black onyx stones are dyed or treated, and natural black onyx is less likely to fade due to water exposure.
Abrasion: While water itself may not directly cause the color to fade, the presence of small particles or debris in the water can abrade the stone’s surface, leading to a loss of polish and a dull appearance. This effect can be exacerbated if the stone is not thoroughly dried after exposure to water, as the residual moisture can attract more dust and debris, causing further abrasion.
To minimize the risk of fading, it is recommended to clean black onyx using a soft cloth and mild soap, and to thoroughly dry the stone after exposure to water. Avoid prolonged submersion in water, especially if you are unsure about the stone’s origin or whether it has been treated or dyed. If you have concerns about the specific care instructions for your black onyx, consult a professional jeweler or gemologist for guidance.
The Stone Will Deteriate Over Time
While black onyx is a relatively durable and water-resistant gemstone, prolonged exposure to water can still have detrimental effects on the stone over time. Here are some ways water can deteriorate black onyx:
Expansion and contraction: When black onyx is exposed to water for extended periods, it may absorb a small amount of moisture. This absorption can lead to expansion and contraction of the stone as it gets wet and then dries, which might result in micro-cracks or fractures, weakening the stone over time.
Reaction with impurities: As mentioned earlier, water containing minerals, salts, or other impurities can react with black onyx, causing the stone’s surface to lose its polish or develop a dull appearance. Over time, these reactions can alter the stone’s overall structure and appearance, leading to deterioration.
Freeze-thaw cycle: In colder climates, the freeze-thaw cycle can have damaging effects on black onyx. When the stone absorbs water and then gets exposed to freezing temperatures, the water inside the stone can freeze, expand, and create internal stresses, leading to cracks or fractures.
Erosion: Although black onyx is relatively resistant to erosion, constant exposure to moving water, especially if the water contains abrasive particles, can wear down the stone over time. This can result in the loss of its smooth surface, polish, and intricate details.
Weakening of adhesives or settings: Prolonged exposure to water can weaken the adhesives or settings used in jewelry containing black onyx. This can cause the stone to become loose or even fall out of the setting, potentially leading to damage or loss.
To preserve the integrity of black onyx and prevent deterioration, it is essential to minimize its exposure to water, especially in extreme conditions or when the water contains impurities. Gently clean the stone with a soft cloth and mild soap, and always dry it thoroughly after exposure to water. Proper care and maintenance will help ensure the longevity and beauty of your black onyx gemstone.
The Stone Is Porous
Although black onyx is a variety of chalcedony, which is typically considered a non-porous or low-porosity material, some black onyx stones may have a degree of porosity due to their formation process or the presence of microscopic cracks and fissures. This porosity can influence how water affects the stone. Here’s how:
Absorption of water: A porous black onyx stone may absorb water when it comes into contact with moisture. This absorption can cause the stone to swell, and when it dries, it contracts. Over time, the continuous cycle of expansion and contraction can weaken the stone, leading to the development of micro-cracks or fractures.
Entrapment of impurities: If a porous black onyx stone is exposed to water containing impurities, such as minerals or salts, these substances may be absorbed along with the water. As the water evaporates, the impurities are left behind, which can alter the stone’s appearance, causing it to become dull or discolored.
Increased susceptibility to chemical reactions: A porous black onyx stone is more susceptible to chemical reactions with substances in water, as the increased surface area allows for more contact between the stone and the water. Over time, these chemical reactions can lead to structural changes, further weakening the stone or causing discoloration.
Freeze-thaw cycle: As mentioned earlier, porous black onyx stones are more vulnerable to damage from the freeze-thaw cycle. When the absorbed water freezes, it expands and creates internal stresses, which can result in cracks or fractures in the stone.
To protect a porous black onyx stone, it is essential to minimize its exposure to water and ensure that it is thoroughly dried after any contact with moisture. Clean the stone gently with a soft cloth and mild soap, and avoid soaking it in water for extended periods. Proper care and maintenance will help preserve the beauty and integrity of your black onyx gemstone, even if it has a degree of porosity.
Tips to managing Black Onyx
To maintain the beauty and durability of your black onyx gemstone, follow these tips for managing its interaction with water:
Limit water exposure: While black onyx is relatively resistant to water, it’s best to minimize its exposure to water, especially for prolonged periods. This will help prevent any potential issues related to absorption, expansion, and contraction.
Avoid harsh chemicals: Keep your black onyx away from harsh chemicals, such as chlorine or bleach, which may be found in some cleaning products or swimming pools. These chemicals can damage the stone, cause discoloration, or weaken its structure.
Gentle cleaning: To clean your black onyx, use a soft cloth and mild soap. Gently rub the stone to remove dirt or oils, then rinse it briefly with clean water to remove soap residue. Avoid using abrasive cleaning tools or soaking the stone for an extended time.
Thorough drying: After cleaning or any exposure to water, thoroughly dry your black onyx with a soft, lint-free cloth. This will help prevent any water damage or the absorption of impurities from the water.
Store properly: Store your black onyx jewelry or gemstones in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or extreme temperature changes. This will help prevent the stone from being affected by environmental factors that may cause damage.
Protect from abrasive particles: If you wear black onyx jewelry while swimming in natural bodies of water, such as the ocean or rivers, be cautious of abrasive particles like sand that could scratch or damage the stone’s surface.
Inspect jewelry settings: Regularly inspect the settings of your black onyx jewelry to ensure that the stone is secure. Prolonged exposure to water can weaken adhesives or settings, so it’s essential to make sure your gemstone is safely in place.
By following these tips, you can effectively manage your black onyx’s interaction with water and preserve its beauty and durability for years to come.