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The onyx

Onyx is a cryptocrystalline form of quartz. The colors of its bands range from white to almost every other color, save some shades such as purple or blue. Commonly, specimens of onyx available contain bands of colors of white, tan, and brown. Sardonyx is a variant in which the colored bands are sard (shades of red) rather than black. Pure black onyx is common, and perhaps the most famous variety, but not as common as onyx with banded colors.

It has a long history of use for hardstone carving and jewellery, where it is usually cut as a cabochon, or into beads, and is also used for intaglio or cameo engraved gems, where the bands make the image contrast with the ground. Some onyx is natural but much is produced by the staining of agate.

The name has sometimes been used, incorrectly, to label other banded lapidary materials, such as banded calcite found in Mexico, Pakistan, and other places, and often carved, polished and sold. This material is much softer than true onyx, and much more readily available. The majority of carved items sold as 'onyx' today are this carbonate material.


Onyx is derived from two languages; Old French (Oniche), and Latin (Onyx). In Greek ὄνυξ (onyx) means 'claw' or 'fingernail'. With its flesh tone color, onyx is said to resemble a fingernail. The English word 'nail' is cognate (i.e.: akin to, related with) its Greek counterpart.

In God of War III

Onyx is encountered in God of War III, appearing as formations of slightly luminescent blue crystal. When it is first encountered, it is unbreakable by any of Kratos' weapons and tools; the Spartan could only shatter it by commandeering a Cyclops and letting him break it with its club, or by turning it to stone with the aid of a Gorgon. After taking the Nemean Cestus from his half-brother Hercules, Kratos finally gained the means to destroy Onyx. The Cestus was used to continuously pummel the Onyx Kratos encountered, causing the crystal to heat up. Its glow would slowly shift from blue to yellow to red, before the crystal shattered with a loud ringing.

Notable instances of Onyx

  • A wall of the crystals is found in Gaia's Heart, protecting the Titan's weak point. Ironically, this is both the first Onyx formation encountered in the game and the last to be destroyed (when Kratos returns to the Heart while battling Zeus).
  • The Judges of Hades are apparently animated by shards of Onyx in the backs of their heads.
  • A small section of the Chain of Balance is made of Onyx.
  • Olympus Guardians and Olympus Sentinels carry massive Onyx shields, bearing the image of Zeus. Kratos will encounter some of them before he acquires the Cestus (for instance, protecting the injured Helios), forcing the Ghost of Sparta to improvise methods of circumventing their defense.
  • The chains binding Pandora's Temple to Cronos' back are locked on his abdomen by a massive nail-shaped pillar of Onyx. Kratos shatters it twice during his battle with Cronos, once to drive the bulk of the pillar through the Titan's jaw, and again to access his forehead and deliver the final blow.
  • The cage holding Pandora captive in the Labyrinth is locked by a diamond-shaped Onyx crystal.
  • Skorpius' legs and back are covered in Onyx armor.

Similar Materials

  • Bronze Talos are made of a golden material that heats up in a similar way to Onyx. However, Bronze Talos can be damaged by any weapon, not just the Nemean Cestus.
  • Skorpius's stinger has a crystalline appearance similar to Onyx, but it is actually more like ice.