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What Is Onyx? How to Use Onyx Slabs for Your Next Project

Onyx is a unique natural stone that originates from dripstone deposits of limestone caves. When water drips from stalactites and stalagmites within these caves and evaporates a compound called calcium carbonate is left behind. This causes the stone’s colorful veins, swirls, and patterns that are unique to onyx. Therefore, onyx is classified a chemical sedimentary stone and can at times contain fossils and shells. Prehistoric animal skeletons have even been found preserved inside onyx!

A limestone cave. Photo courtesy of Manal Sabbagh

What Does Onyx Look Like?

Onyx is crystalline stone, and often translucent – which means it allows for light to pass through. The degree of translucency varies among onyx slabs and is dependent on the color, thickness and surface finish. A unique feat, onyx will recrystallize in time, often enhancing translucency as a result. Onyx typically comes in a wide array of yellow hues due to the presence of iron deposits, but other common colors are green, white, orange, gold, pink and brown.

Aria Stone Gallery Onyx White Extra Bathroom
Aria Stone Gallery’s Onyx White Extra Bathroom. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.


Aria Stone Gallery Backlit Onyx Caramello Bar
Aria Stone Gallery’s Backlit Onyx Caramello Bar. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.


Should I Use Onyx in My Next Project?

We believe that if you love this stone, a skilled fabricator will be able to make your onyx project a reality. Like most natural stones, onyx has the potential to etch and stain; however, a sealer can be used in addition to prevent wear and tear over time. Feature walls, countertops, art pieces and fireplaces are all especially great examples of ways to incorporate onyx into your home. Most onyx applications can be backlit to enhance the stone’s natural translucency.

Aria Houston Showroom
Backlit Onyx Artwork Inside Aria Stone Gallery’s Houston Showroom. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.
Aria Stone Gallery Backlit Onyx Nuvolato Bar and Feature Wall
Aria Stone Gallery’s Backlit Onyx Nuvolato Bar and Feature Wall. Image Courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.


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The Difference Between Honed and Polished Stone Finishes

Aria Stone Gallery Calacatta Lincoln Marble Kitchen

When deciding between honed or polished finishes, neither one is better than the other, just different. Neither a honed or polished finish impacts the true nature and durability of the stone slab. And some stones are naturally more durable than others (looking at you granite and quartzite). But for some “softer materials” that are more prone to wear, your stone’s finish may actually add an extra layer of security against stains or camouflage pesky scratches and etches.

Before you make your decision, it is important to ask yourself a few questions and become familiar with all options before deciding which finish is best for you and your family.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Dolce Vita countertops, backsplash and waterfall island in a polished finish. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.


What do honed and polished finishes look like?

According to the Marble Institute of America, a polished finish has a glossy surface that reflects light and emphasizes the color and veins of the stone. When a stone is polished, the details, colors, hues, and vein structure show more prominently, putting more of an emphasis on these natural characteristics of the stone. A high polish finish will bring the stone’s natural color to its fullest because it will ultimately reflect the light and appear more saturated.

A honed finish is a satin, smooth surface with relatively little reflection of light. A honed finish is more flat and will almost always appear lighter in color. When a polished stone is honed, the depth, hues, and veins that were once very prevalent may be reduced. The degree of honing depends on the stone, but may vary from light to heavy.

Does your lifestyle match your application?

Are you the type of person that feels most at ease in a bright, pristine space? Or do you find history, comfort or character in patina? Do you prefer the look of a brand new leather jacket or your trusty broken in leather jacket? Neither scenario is wrong, it just comes down to what you prefer!

Those who highly disapprove of scratches and etches may find that honed surfaces are well suited for high traffic and heavily used areas, such as countertops and workspaces. Also, the matte, smooth surface is less slippery when wet, making it a safer choice for bathroom flooring and staircases.

But don’t be discouraged if you fall in love with the look of a polished stone but are horrified by the thought of scratching and etching. There are plenty of preventative measures you can take. Similarly, if you find a stone that is polished and wish it were honed, a skilled fabricator should be able to change the finish for you.

Aria Stone Gallery’s Hanoi Pure White Marble as shower walls, seat, and vanity countertops with waterfall edge. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.


Honed and Polished Finishes: Scratch & Etch Resistance

If you are in love with the look of marble, but are not keen on seeing the inherent characteristics associated with the use of marble over time (such as scratches and etches) then consider a honed finish. On a polished finish, a scratch or etch may leave behind a dull, matte mark creating a contrast. Because honed finishes are already matte, the dull marks from scratches and etches are more likely to be camouflaged and go unnoticed.

Having a sealer does not mean that liquids, especially acidic ones like soda or tomato sauce, should be left on countertops overnight, but it does mean that there will be more time to clean up the spills before a permanent mark is made.

Aria Stone Gallery Calacatta Lincoln Marble Kitchen Amber Venz
Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Lincoln Extra Honed Marble in the home of fashion blogger, entrepreneur and LIKEtoKNOW.It.’s founder Amber Venz. Image courtesy of Amber Venz.


Honed and Polished Finishes: Stain Resistance

When properly sealed, both honed and polished finishes are stain resistant. There is no such thing as a stain proof sealer. If stains are high on your list of concerns, there are a few things to be considered.

A polished finish on a stone is essentially an added layer of security to protect from stains. The process in which a stone is polished helps to close natural pores and create a protective barrier. On the other hand, the pores in a smoothed, honed stone are more receptive to liquid. Side by side, a polished stone surface will have more protection from stains than a honed surface; however, a proper sealer will help to close in open pores and provide stain resistance against most household items.

calacatta gold borghini extra polished marble
Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Gold Borghini Extra Marble in a polished finish with contrasting black, glossy, lacquered walls. Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery.


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Brand New World-Class Quarry Experience, Only at Aria Stone Gallery

With great joy, we are proud to announce the launch of our brand-new quarry experience program. As a pioneer in the industry, Aria continually pushes the envelope when it comes to customer experience and education which holds true with the announcement of our new, custom “World-Class Hand Selection” program. The program is a once-in-a-lifetime excursion which gives the clients a chance to experience the behind-the-scenes process of hand-selecting stone for their special project. It allows the travelers to immerse themselves in the rich history, culture, and cuisine of the region from which the stone is sourced. This hands-on approach is unique to Aria and gives the clients the ability to experience all stages of stone sourcing, from mining and processing, to the selection of that perfect piece.

This truly is a one-of-a-kind excursion, not only do the customers get a chance to experience all aspects of stone sourcing, they are also treated to world-class perks. From fine dining, true to the region’s culinary roots prepared by world-class chefs, and five-star lodging accommodations to breathtaking views and total immersion in the surrounding culture. The memories of this trip are sure to stay with our clients forever, as they will be reminded of their amazing experience every time they gaze upon their completed project. Not many people in the world will be able to tell tales of the exact origin of their stone and even less will be able to say that they were there as it was hand selected in the quarry. Aria spends no expense to ensure our customers are treated like royalty.

At the end of this adventure, you will know first-hand what it means to be called “Aria quality” stone and why we treat each slab as a piece of art. Come along with Aria on this one-of-a-kind journey and gain the unique insight, knowledge, and education from an industry insider, Vinny Tavares.

If you are interested in participating or have any additional inquiries, please contact us.





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Aria Stone Gallery’s Calacatta Cielo marble table has a custom petrified wood edge detail, giving the shape of this table an organic and natural feel. The linear pattern in the Calacatta Cielo is reminiscent of the natural striations that occur in wood, tying the two different materials together in a romantic way.

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