Agate is a classic, sought-after stone, and always popular for use in jewelry, for carving, and for other artisan crafts. This durable stone is suitable for rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings, and will withstand most daily wear without scratching or dulling. Most agates are easily cut and polished using standard lapidary equipment and are readily available in bulk cutting rough, slabs and finished stones.
Agates are finely textured varieties of Quartz appearing in a wide variety of colors caused by mineral inclusions. Agate differs from Chalcedony due to one notable feature: it always exhibits concentric banding that forms waves, rings, circles, or parallel lines. Most agates occur in cavities of ancient lava formations where they appear as nodules having silica rich layers that have built up upon their walls. Agate forms parallel lines and stripes when it fills veins and cracks in volcanic rock, and is named for the Achates River where it discovered around 300 BC.
The ancient Egyptians believed agate would prevent against natural disaster, and most modern practitioners believe that Agates are “grounding stones” that help to cleanse, create balance, harmony, stability and improved mental function. The deliberate and steady nature of Agate is thought to help to gently bring love into the chakras and to eliminate negativity. Agates are thought to sometimes reveal information that is hidden.
On the Market
Agate varieties are limited to specific areas and are often named for their locality or for their physical properties. Druzy agates have enjoyed great popularity for about a decade, and are guaranteed to attract the eye because of the subtle glimmer and flash of the tiny granular crystalline structures covering the surface of the stone. New agate discoveries are introduced nearly every year, but perennial favorites include:
Blue Lace – Pale blue with fine white banding
Botswana – Pink, white or dove gray banding
Lace – Variety of colors and complex patterns
Fortification – Angled bands connect to and enclose each other
Holly Blue – Pale blue/purple agate from Holly Mountain, Oregon
Lake Superior – Iron-stained and red color; found in northern US
Laguna – Various colors; found in Laguna, Mexico
Enhancement and Treatment
Agates are abundant and inexpensive so imitations are rare, though glass is sometimes sold as agate. Agates are porous and readily dyed to enhance their natural color.