Onyx is among the most sought-after ornamental stones in jewelry-making: with its fine texture and rich, deep black color, it has stood out as a prized gem since Antiquity and was particularly stylish in 1930s Art Deco jewelry. Van Cleef & Arpels uses the black tint of onyx to set off the sparkle of diamonds and the gleam of gold, particularly in the Alhambra® and Rose de Noël™ collections.
One variety of onyx features white bands or veins on a black base; if the structure is made up of uniform layers, it can be transformed into stunning cameos.
The Maison predominantly works with Brazilian onyx due to its superior quality, as well as its brilliantly reflective mirror-like surface. To create its pieces, Van Cleef & Arpels selects only the purest stones presenting the most intense shade of black. Lapidaries often strive to harmonize the colors of onyx gems; each expert has his own techniques to achieve the perfect hue.
To protect this stone from damage or scratching, the Maison recommends storing onyx pieces in a fabric-lined box separate from other jewelry.