Agate – A Versatile Stone


Agate is the stone with the widest variations in all colours, whether banded or Solid, Opaque, Translucent or Transparent. It is a Chalcedony, and can occur in tandem with OpalsQuartzes, and other varieties of minerals. Its great range of appearances, coupled with its hardness and widely dispersed area, contributes to its versatility as a craft material. Agate has not only been used for jewellery: it was, and is, carved into many forms, including decorative bowls, handles for tools, letter openers, and a host of other household objects. Often occurring in solid nodules and hollow geodes or “eggs”, it is then sliced to reveal the patterns or layers.

This stone’s many varied forms have been categorized into a multitude of broader categories based on the stone’s colouration and patterning. For example, “Orbicular Agate” has circular colour layers arranged concentrically about the center, while “Brecciated Agate” is a solid piece of disjointed stone fused by Quartz veins. Some categories are more abstract, such as “Scenic Agate”, whose dendrites look like a landscape. “Moss Agate” looks like a variety of plants growing, and then frozen, into a translucent window. One very special species is “Fire Agate”, a multi coloured brown based stone that reveals swirling orbs of colour reminiscent of Opal when it is oriented correctly and polished. It is shown on the left side of the photograph above.

The primary modern deposits, in the neighborhood of the famous German town of Idar-Oberstein, were active from their discovery in the 19th century until they were completely worked out. Today, it is mined predominantly in Brazil and Uruguay, although there are many other deposits globally.

This stone naturally occurs in all the colours of the rainbow thanks to chemical pigmentation during the stones’ formations. Stones with dull colours are commonly dyed with Aniline dyes to produce brighter, more saturated hues. Dyed stone is very common and generally not recognizable by human eye alone. We have several pieces of this beautiful stone in stock at most times and some stones mounted in Sterling silver. Feel free to come in and see for yourself!