Throughout the ages there have been many myths, legends and folklore surrounding the spiritual qualities of Sardonyx (also known as Banded Agate). Romans soldiering into war would wear the stone, engraved with a picture of Mars (god of war), believing it would bring them courage in times of doubt.
The name Sardonyx itself is an amalgamation of its composition, the two minerals ‘Sard’ and ‘Onyx’. During the Renaissance in Europe it was believed that this stone gave speakers eloquence when talking. In Ancient Greece people used to carve them into the shape of scarab beetles, a mythological creature that was believed to eat people! The gem also has many links with royalty and it is said that Queen Elizabeth I gave the Earl of Essex a large Sardonyx gold ring as a present.
Sardonyx is the reddish brown coloured member of the Agate family and it normally has varying coloured layers and a vitreous to waxy lustre. The main use of Sardonyx throughout the ages has been to make carved cameos (a carving made out of a gemstone).
Today Sardonyx is mined in various locations around the world, however in years gone by it was considerably rarer and more valuable. There was even a time when it was worth more than gold! Most of the world’s supply is mined in the Sardonyx Mountains in India and it is generally agreed that this is where the highest quality Sardonyx comes from. The gem is also found in Russia, Australia, Brazil and Madagascar.