In order to work with our crystals effectively, we need to understand their properties. With crystals that are often confused, such as banded calcite and onyx, it can be difficult to determine which one to work with. The answer should always be; the one that you are drawn to the most. However, if you are looking to find the difference in physical appearance as well as metaphysical properties, you’ll find your answer here.
Onyx and banded calcite are often (wrongly) used interchangeably. What is often referred to as Mexican or Pakistan onyx, along with other names, is really just banded calcite and has nothing to do with actual onyx.
Continue reading if you want to know more about the (physical) qualities of these stones, as well as how you can use them in your spiritual practice.
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Banded Calcite vs. Onyx – How To Tell The Difference?
In order to understand the difference between these two stones, we can look at the color, shape, pattern, clarity, and more. Below we’ll describe all these aspects in detail.
Onyx consists of silicon dioxide and is a form of chalcedony, which is microcrystalline. This means that the crystals cannot be seen by the naked eye. You can only see the crystal structure through a microscope. Onyx can be further categorized into quartz, just like amethyst and citrine, for example.
On the other hand, banded calcite consists mostly of calcium carbonate (up to 99%). The rest of this mineral is made up of other substances, which often cause a difference in color. For green calcite, for example, there is malachite present.
As a result, what is often referred to as Mexican or Pakistan onyx is actually not even close to being actual onyx.
Also read: Calcite vs. Quartz: This Is The Difference
Hardness and Acid Test
As these stones have entirely different chemical make-ups, it is relatively easy to tell the difference. The first, is by performing a Mohs hardness test. If you’re unfamiliar, the Mohs scale of hardness determines a stone’s hardness by measuring how scratch-resistant it is. According to this scale, a stone can scratch any other mineral with a lower score. For reference, talc is a 1, whereas diamond is a 10.
In our case, banded calcite rates a 3, while onyx measures at 6.5-7. As a result, testing on hardness can help us determine what stone we are holding. To do this, you can take a piece of fluorite (rating 4) or glass (rating 5.5) and try to scratch the stone. If it’s calcite, it should scratch it; if it is onyx, it should not.
Keep in mind that this is not a decisive test. All we are determining is that the hardness is above or below 4 or 5.5, depending on the tool used.
To help further determine which mineral you’re holding, you can drop a bit of vinegar on the stone. Leave it be for a minute or so and check to see if tiny bubbles start to form on the surface of the mineral. As calcite reacts to acid, this should be the case. Onyx does not react to acid, so there should be no reaction.
Onyx comes in a variety of colors but is most commonly known for its black color. It is banded with parallel lines that are often white or grey.
Banded calcite comes in almost every possible color, like red, orange, blue, green, pink and white. Banded calcite has the same parallel lines as onyx.
Transparency and Luster
Both banded calcite and onyx can be translucent to opaque in clarity. Their shine, however, can be different. Though both sometimes have a glass-like shine, calcite also often looks and feels waxy. Onyx can also be more silky.
Also read: Calcite vs Halite: This is the Difference
With calcite being a soft stone, it is recommended to avoid water. Leaving it to soak will either dissolve or break the stone. With onyx being a variety of quartz, it doesn’t have a problem with water. Do keep in mind that if you wear the stone as jewelry, it is recommended to keep it away from water anyway. This is because any stone that is exposed to water for long periods will eventually turn dull.
The best way to clean these stones is by either dusting them off or using a damp towel. Make sure to dry them afterward.
If you are using these stones for their metaphysical properties, you might want to consider energetically cleansing and recharging these stones.
The reason for this is that these stones absorb low vibrations. Every month or so, you want to remove these energies from the stone so you can continue to use it. After cleansing, it is recommended you also recharge the stones to make sure they are full of positive energy to share with you.
The stones can be cleansed and recharged using sun or moonlight, sound, and cleansing crystals like clear quartz or selenite.
Calcite is a common mineral found in most parts of the world in all three types of rock: Igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary.
Igneous rocks are the result of magma that has cooled, metamorphic rocks are ones that, as a result of heat and pressure, turn into a different type of rock, and sedimentary rocks are small pieces of different rocks that form a new one. The most notable areas where banded calcite is found are Germany, Mexico, and England.
Onyx is a sedimentary rock and can be found in Russia, Brazil, India, and Madagascar.
(Meta)physical Healing Properties
Beware that crystals are never a replacement for professional medical help. If you have any issues, see a doctor first and follow their advice.
So, now that we know banded calcite and onyx are entirely different stones, you’ll probably also want to know how you can use each.
Starting with banded calcite is a cleansing stone used to eliminate all negative energies. It also helps clear the mind of destructive thinking. The stone can also unlock psychic abilities and help in finding purpose.
Additionally, this variety of calcite is used to bring positive energies and boost personal power and feelings of security and safety. It can also be used to help bring focus and creativity.
Onyx is also a grounding stone and helps bring stability when experiencing anger, fear, or frustration. The stone also brings confidence and self-control. It is a reliable stone when making difficult decisions or when going through grief. Lastly, the stone also aids in maintaining balanced, authentic, and creative.
Also read: Calcite vs Dolomite: This is the Difference
Calcite is not a birthstone, but is associated with Taurus and Libra, through their ruling planet of Venus. You’ll find more about this planet in the section further down.
Banded calcites are good amplifier stones that work well with Gemini and Leo zodiac signs. The stone encourages good flow of energy in the body, and will allow them to increase positive vibrations and clear negative energies and bring healing.
Black onyx a ayurvedic birhtstone for the month of December, and thus the signs of Sagittarius and Capricorn born in that month. They’ll find that using this stone will allow them to bring out the best parts of their zodiac, whilst also working on the difficult aspects.
Black onyx is also associated with the Leo zodiac sign. This sign is full of determination, and ambition. It is also blessed with a big heart and charm. Besides their confidence, the sign can also be prone to jealousy, insecurity and possessive behavior. The stone will help the zodiac feel safe and surrender these feelings of insecurity and possessiveness. The stone also reminds the sign that they are the masters of their destiny and fuels their ambitious nature.
Banded calcite is associated with the heart, root and crown chakras, while black onyx is connected to the root chakra. Other onyx varieties are associated with different chakras depending on their color.
If you’re not too familiar with chakras, here’s a quick explanation to help you understand how these crystals work. Chakras are the different energy points in our bodies. There are 7, each of them linked to a certain aspect of our lives. We can link each chakra to crystals or gemstones by color and their properties.
- Root chakra (Muladhara) is represented by black/red and is located at the base of the spine. This chakra is related to stability.
- Sacral Chakra (Svadihsthana/ spleen) is represented by orange and is located below the navel. The sacral chakra is associated with feelings and sensuality.
- Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura) is represented by yellow and is located above the naval. The solar plexus chakra is related to intellect.
- Heart Chakra (Anahata) is represented by green/pink and is located in the chest area. This chakra is associated with loving and emotional healing.
- Throat Chakra (Vishuddha) Is represented by blue and is located at the end of the throat. This chakra is associated with communication and tangible dialogues.
- Third Eye Chakra (Ajna) Is represented by indigo and is located between the eyebrows. The chakra is related to spiritual understanding.
- Crown Chakra (Sahasrara) is represented by white and is seen as our connection to the divine.
Both stones are associated with the earth element. The element is associated with grounding, stability and foundation. The element is represented by yellow, black, and brown colors.
People who are associated with this element are nurturing, rooted and responsible. Attributes associated with this element are ambition, long-term planning, and peace and harmony, which are, therefore exactly what you could use these stones for.
Banded calcite is associated with Venus. The planet governs beauty, sensuality and love. This is also the ruling planet over Taurus and Libra zodiac signs. Working with the energy of this planet helps attract love, but also promotes self-love and emotional healing.
Onyx, on the other hand, is governed by both Mars and Saturn. Mars is the planet associated with drive, passion and ambition. Mars is also associated with Scorpio and Aries.
Saturn is the planet of karma. This planet represents our fears and limitations. It governs Capricorns and Aquarius signs. So, if you feel like you are lacking enthusiasm for a project, or need a little help believing in your abilities, onyx can help you.
Banded calcite vibrates at 8. This number indicates qualities like determination, assertiveness, responsibility, and indicates infinite possibility. In business, the number will introduce skill leading to wealth and growth. Spiritually, the number represents success and achievements. It can also be used to represent power and authority. Stones of the number 8 can help you with creating or making use of these qualities.
Black onyx vibrates at 6. This number represents fears, finances and possessions. As a result, stones associated with this vibration can be useful in building more material wealth, as well as overcoming fears.
These minerals are each used in different ways, depending on what a person might be looking to benefit. Below, you’ll find a few options.
Just like any other stone, wearing it is a great way to benefit from its healing entries throughout the day. The banded calcite will be comforting, whilst black onyx is highly protective. Make sure the stone is in contact with your skin and located as close to the associated chakra as possible. In the case of calcite, in particular, make sure to take it off when you are showering or swimming, as water will not do this stone any good.
Another way to bring these energies into your life, is by placing the stones in your house. With calcite being a soft stone, it is often made into various ornaments, perfect to display as a decorative piece. Onyx, on the other hand is often placed in the home either raw, or polished.
If you’re new to working with crystals, or would like to gain a deeper understanding of how these stones work, we recommend meditating with them. This way you are consciously absorbing their energy. When you sit down with them, make sure you have the stones cleansed and recharged, and you have also set an intention for them. This basically means that you know what you would like to get out of working with this stone. Are you looking for protection? Or releasing your anxiety? Or perhaps you just want to see how these stones make you feel. Whatever you choose, make sure you make conscious decision.
Banded calcite can be used together with clear quartz to cleanse and amplify energies, as well as balance the chakras. The pair has the ability to absorb and transform negative energies into positive ones and enhance mental and emotional clarity. The stone can be used together with carnelian for the sacral chakra.
Black onyx is used together with moonstone to relieve physical and mental stress. The pair is also great for balancing and grounding energies in all centers. It can also be used to prevent bad dreams. You can also pair black onyx with selenite for balance and healing energies.