The Gemstone Agate

What Is Agate

It is a variety of silica, mainly chalcedony, which is composed of quartz and moganite, and characterized by its fine grains and bright colors.
Both quartz and moganite are silica minerals but with different crystal structures.
Agate is just one of the many varieties of chalcedony. Many of these varieties are given separate names and are known as separate types of gemstones.

Agate exist in a vast variety of shapes and colors, in fact, it is practically impossible to find two stones that are exact replica of eachother.
Within one stone there can be a large number of different colors as well, arranged in various shapes, layers etc.

Agate 1

The name Agate stems from the name of a river in Sicily that in ancient times was called Achates, now named Dirillo, in the southern part of the island.

Agate has been used as gemstones in jewelry pieces for thousands of years. It has also been used for other decorative items, throughout the history, such as bowls, vases etc. and there exist thousands of beautiful objects in museums as well as with private collectors around the world.

One example of decorative objects is “Rubens Vase” from the Byzantine Empire.

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Another example from

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Agate carvings is still carried out by many individuals around the world; some samples from

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Various types of materials such as Agate has been found in Ethiopia where our ancestors made primitive stone tools like axes of them around 2.5 million years ago. Therefore we can safely say that Agate is not a recent discovery.

Due to the material’s hardness and ability to resist acids, Agate is used to make mortars for crushing and mixing acidic chemicals.
It is also used for many other decorative and/or practical objects.

Our main interest on this site, however, is the use as gemstones in the jewelry industry.
By cutting and processing Agate into jewelry gemstones, an incredible range of products can be made.
Here are just a few samples of the millions of different Agate gemstones that can be made and fitted into a piece of jewelry.

Samples from

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How is Agate formed

Agate can be formed in empty cavities within any type of rocks. However, it is mostly formed in cavities within lava rocks.
When volcanic activity pushes lava towards the surface of the Earth and the lava begin to cool down and become solid material, some gases and other easily disengaged material are slipping out and leaving cavities within the lava rock.

Over time, water containing silica and other materials, perhaps partly silica from the lava itself, may sip into these cavities and the various minerals thus entering the cavities will remain in the rock while water is slowly vaporizing and leaving the cavities.
The process can take millions of years and due to the coincidental variation of the materials set off in the cavities it is very unlikely to find two formations that are exactly copies of each other.

The size of the resulting crystallized material we call Agate depends on the size of the cavity in which it is formed. The largest Agate found was of Brazilian origin, weighing 35 tons, and shown at an exhibition in Germany in 1902.
As the minerals set off are attached to the walls of the cavities, the pattern of the layers is roughly following the pattern of the walls.

The variation of colors depends on the minerals in the surrounding area and therefore Agate from one area may have colors and structure that are significant for that particular area and different from other areas. This can be a rough guideline as to the origin of the various Agates found.

The Agate is tougher than the stone in which it was formed and when the stone is slowly broken down by the effects of the surrounding environmental forces, the Agate is left behind ready to be discovered.

Where can it be found

Agate can be found all around the world and well-known sources include African countries, Argentina, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Russia and USA but it can also be found in many other places.

Anywhere there is, or has been, cracks in the Earth’s surface allowing molten lava to flow out are areas where Agates may be formed. They may be washed away by river streams and found over a large area away from the original area where the lava first appeared.

Below is shown samples from various areas as listed by

These are just a few of the millions of different Agates found, but hopefully this will give you an idea of how extremely vast the existence of shapes and sizes are.

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What is the value of Agate

The value of the Agate geode (unprocessed in it’s natural form) is fairly low. However jewelry artists can cut, polish and process the Agate geode into many beautiful gemstones, and this process increases the value manyfold.

Therefore the one who search and find the natural Agate is not getting much back for his/her work, but many people are doing it mainly out of interest for minerals, or as a hobby. To search for Agate as a full-time occupation is less common but people are doing that as well.

Once the Agate is inserted into a precious metal finding, gold, silver or other metals the price can be quite high.

Stephen Dweck Deep Green Agate set in bronze at

Agate 7

US $350

If you are in the market for Agate jewelry, it may be a better idea to go for fashion jewelry that can be just as beautiful but at a much lower price.

Black Agate in Sterling Silver at

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US $30

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Necklace from US $48.20

The most common Agates with a simple processing like cutting and polishing can be in the range of US $2.- per carat (200 milligrams).
The more rare types like some specimens of “Fire Agate” etc, can fetch prices of more than US $20.- per carat.

Samples from

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Metaphysical properties

As Agate has been used by people as gemstones etc. for thousands of years a lot of beliefs are connected to it.
It has the ability to rebalnce and harmonise body and mind.
It can bring wealth and good luck, longevity, courage and strenth.

It can protect and safeguard the wearer and be beneficial in love………and the list of benefits goes on-and-on………….

In ancient times it was used on the armour of soldiers to make them victorious in battles.
It was used to dispel sickness by placing stones in water meant for drinking.
Also drinking bowels were made of Agate to prevent poisoning.

In summary, the Agate is believed to have so many beneficial properties that it is a wonder that not every human is wearing it!
Or could it be that, as no scientific evidence exists concerning all these properties, it is all just a product of the human mind?
Could it be, as with all beliefs, that “if you believe, it works”?

In any case, there is no denying that Agate is a very beautiful and diverse kind of genstone and that it may be found by anyone who has a basic idea of knowing where to search, and the patience required.

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