For an agate to be regarded as real and precious, the main requirement is that it must have bands. This makes it easy to be distinguished from other varieties of chalcedony. However, there are some types of agate, such as moss agate and dendritic agate which do not have bands on them, but they have inclusions which appear like bands in some cases.
The blue agate pictured above has been artificially dyed blue using a chemical process. These differ from banded, moss, tree and other collectible agates in that they are artificially enhanced and thus not a natural collectible. Dyed agates like this in pink, blue, green and other colors are widely available at novelty and gift stores throughout the world. Adults and children alike often are introduced to rocks and minerals through an artificially enhanced product like this
How Agate is Formed
These gems are known as semi-precious that originate from the chalcedony of the quartz family – a silicon dioxide formation arranged in the form of small quartz crystals. The mineral is naturally formed in volcanoes when cave water rich in silica keeps dripping through the cavities between the rocks. This silica keeps accumulating in small holes in volcanic rocks and over a long course of time, it ends up filling the holes completely. The layers change to form microcrystals and this is what’s responsible for the bands found on it. Differences in colors of agate are due to changes in temperature, pressure and the matter collected during its formation.
Agate in History
If we look back in ancient times, we can find agate among the artifacts discovered from Neolithic regions. History tells us that agate was used in carving items, such as ornaments and amulets. Agate has also been used in Greek and Egyptian empires because of its medicinal properties, which later spread to Russia through Middle Eastern countries. the Greek philosopher Theophrastus was the one who found agate on the Shore of the Dirillo River in Sicily, somewhere around the 3rd and 4th BC.
The historical backdrop of Agate links back to the German town of Idar-Oberstein, which has developed to be known as a vital gemstone center. Agates and Jasper were found in the Idar-Oberstein area, and cut and cleaned by neighborhood artisans. When large deposits of agate were found in the Rio Grande do Sul, in the 1800s, it was shipped to Germany for getting cut and cleaned. The nearby Agate cutters of Idar-Oberstein were appropriate for this work due to their skills and excellent craftsmanship. This is why Idar-Oberstein is important in terms of agate refinement. Agate can be found almost everywhere in the world. It is commonly available and yet equally demanded because of its beautiful unusual color bands and buttery appearance.
Throughout the course of history, agate has been regarded and revered by the masses. It has also been used in almost all cultures and civilizations, In Islamic culture, it has been worn by prophets, whereas in Babylonian civilizations, agate was used for protection and strength. It was used in the breastplates and swords in ancient times. Not just that, it is believed that agate is a grounding stone, which balances the yin-yang energy in one’s body. It was also used to ward off fears and insecurities and help with the feelings of envy and jealousy as it grounds all the energies in our bodies, which are not beneficial.