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agateAgate is a a more translucent microcrystalline quartz that forms in concentric layers in volcanic lava rocks and other host rocks. The results are round nodule bands similar to tree trunks and may appear as eyes, scallops, or as landscapes with dendrites that look like trees.  Agate occurs in most colors including black, gray, brown, reddish, green, pink, blue, and yellow from transparent to opaque.

There are thousands of places worldwide where agate has been found.  Many of these are named for the locality, such as Botswana Agate, Montana Agate, and so forth.  Many are named because of their physical appearance, such as Moss Agate, Black Agate, Fossil Agate, and more.

Although agate is found all over the world, the most exceptional specimens come from Southern Brazil and Northern Uruguay. However, the moss agates of Colorado and Montana are equally beautiful.  Other gorgeous specimens have been found in Mexico and California.  A geode type of agate called “Thunder Egg” by Native American Indians, is found in Oregon.  Fire agates come from Mexico and Arizona.  Commercial deposits exist in China, Mexico, India, Madagascar, and the U.S. along the shores of Lake Superior.

 History and Interesting Facts

The agate is one of the oldest stones in recorded history.

The hobby of collecting bowls made of agate was popular during the Renaissance era, and this activity was responsible for the growth of the lapidary industry near Idar-Oberstein in Germany.  Although agate beds were originally found in that area, most of the local deposits were depleted in the nineteenth century and the majority of agate coming out of the shops in Idar-Oberstein today are imported from Brazil.

Many Gem and Mineral shows sponsor old-time rock hounds that bring hundreds of geodes to break open with a specially made tool that “pops” the geode open leaving the internal material undamaged.  Agate geodes can be very small (as small as a fruit seed) or very large. The largest geode ever mined was found in Brazil and weighed almost two tons.

Besides its use in jewelry, vessels, and ornamental objects, children’s marbles were once made of agate and were called “aggies” in reference to their composition.

Legends and Myths

Ancient civilizations believed that wearing agate would make them invisible, thus protecting them from danger.  Farmers used agates to ensure good crops. Romans wore agate to please the gods that would bring an abundant harvest. In Persia, agate was worn to confer eloquence and magicians used the crystal to divert dangerous storms. In ancient Asia, agates were used to see the future. Early Britons used the gem to prevent skin disease.  Agate talismans were worn in the Middle East to keep the blood healthy. Sucking on an agate was thought to relieve thirst. Another legend says that any person who looks upon an agate can not remain secretive and is obligated to tell the truth.

Healing Properties

This is THE stone that everyone should have for protection.  Because agate has been known and regarded around the world for centuries, its beneficial and healing properties are diverse and almost innumerable.  The properties of each agate depends to some extent on the color and composition of the agate, but all agates have certain things in common.

Agate’s most noticable properties overall are balancing yin/yang energy, courage, protection, healing, and calming.

Artists and writers have used agate to enhance creativity.

It is also known as a good luck stone.

Historically, it was placed in water for cooking or drinking to dispel sickness.

Because of the harmonizing qualities of agate, and its emotional energies of removing and releasing negative energies, it is also considered by many to be an excellent stone for helping to heal and improve enrgy in times of stress.

To see some of our agate gemstone necklaces and jewelry, click here.

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