The formation of onyx begins in the large, vast limestone caverns, where the cavern’s dripstone deposits form stalactites, stalagmites, and other formations, filling the otherwise void space. Stalactites and stalagmites are developed over time as the soft droplets of water are combined with the evaporation process creating a more dense calcium carbonate. The buildup of calcium carbonate incrementally forms a chemical sedimentary stone, known as onyx.

Photo courtesy of Manal Sabbagh

What does onyx look like?

Onyx is crystalline stone, is often translucent, and according to the Marble Institute of America, onyx is “strongly banded and colored in browns to yellows and clear.” The degree of translucency of onyx varies from slab to slab and is dependent on the crystal structure, color, thickness, and surface finish. Onyx, like most limestone, will recrystallize in time, often enhancing translucency.

What are some creative onyx applications?

Because onyx is typically translucent, many designers and artists find that the stone is ideal for backlighting. From creative wall installations to cocktail bars, onyx is lighting up the design world.

The Onyx Room at the Park Hyatt New York, designed by Yabu Pushelburg. Photo Credit: Adam Goldberg


Parisian restaurant and bar, Yeeels, by the French interior designer and architect, Rodolphe Parente. Photo Credit: Olivier Amsellem


backlit onyx
Backlit Onyx Wall + Ceiling. The Mansions at Acqualina in Sunny Isles, FL. Designed by GPI Design. Photo Credit: GPI Design


Backlighting Onyx Q&A
Backlit Onyx Caramello Bar and Lounge at The Grove Kitchen & Gardens
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