Let’s start off by saying that onyx is not for the faint of heart when it comes to countertops. As it is a calcium-based stone, it has a softer surface that requires constant care to keep it pristine and free of visible damages. However, if you’re willing to put in the extra work, the trade-off is stunning because there is beauty in onyx countertops’ fragility. Its translucency combined with its generous offering of colors and shades like brown, red, white, green, and black is what makes each onyx countertop a visual masterpiece.

PROS

Onyx is a rare stone, both in nature and in its unconventional use as countertops. You’d take your home to the next luxurious level above others simply by installing an onyx countertop as the centrepiece of your house. If it’s in your nature to go against the grain, not only would this be an opportunity to add character to your home, but it could also add a lot of house value because it’ll stand out from the sea of granite and marble countertops everyone else has. There’s no denying that onyx is eye-catching with its mesmerising patterns that provide one of the most naturally beautiful contrasts between its primary colour and those of the alternating bands in its stone. Another appeal of onyx is the translucency of the stone: this unique property allows onyx pieces to be backlit with a soft light that will make them literally glow as they show off their colours and contrasts. As an added bonus, onyx was also believed in ancient times to bestow courage and eloquence.

CONS

Onyx is fragile enough to sometimes require fibreglass backing to reinforce it. This means that there’s a size limit to onyx slabs and it’s very difficult to use them for large pieces of work – the larger it is, the greater the risk of it being damaged. Because of its softness and the fact that it’s calcium-based, onyx stone is very susceptible to etching from acidic substances such as lemon juice, vinegar, and even wine. It is easily scratched and really should not be placed in a heavy-use area like the kitchen. It’s a high-maintenance stone that needs to be sealed and cleaned with special solutions regularly. Depending on how heavily used it is, it may even need to be refinished from time to time to smooth out the surface again. The fact that onyx is a rare stone also means that it’s expensive just by itself and even more so when you take the regular maintenance needed into account.

It all boils down to what kind of statement you want to make about your house. You can go with other popular and more durable stones that give your house a luxurious uplift with minimal effort. Or you can stand out from the crowd through sheer willpower and continuous self-improvement work. Of course, like many things in life, there’s also a middle ground: onyx is perhaps most spectacular as backlit decorative pieces on walls, above fireplaces, or – if you must use it as a countertop – vanity tops in the bathroom. That way, you can go with the more durable stones for your kitchen countertop and you’ll end up with the best of both worlds.