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Onyx is striped, semiprecious variety of the silica mineral agate with white and black alternating bands. Onyx is used in carved cameos and intaglios because its layers can be cut to show a color contrast between the design and the background. Other varieties include carnelian onyx, with white and red bands, and sardonyx, with white and brown bands. The name was used by the Romans for a variety of stones including alabaster, chalcedony, and what is now known as onyx marble.