Agate comes in most colors. Agates range from transparent to opaque in a variety of beautiful colors. It presents various tints in the same specimen. The stones can be artificially stained to produce combinations of color more vivid than those found in the natural state.
Physical properties of agate are in general those of quartz. Agate has irregular, sometimes circular bands of color and often replaces fossil wood. Many fossils are agatized material where the original organic substance has been replaced by agate while retaining the original structure. Agates are identical in chemical structure to jasper , flint, chert, bloodstone , and tiger's-eye and are often found in association with opal . The colorful, banded rocks are used as a semiprecious gemstone and for making mortars and pestles. One will often see these in beads, agate pendants and necklaces.
Agate derives its name from the Greek "Agate" - happy. According to another theory the word Agate comes from the Greek name of a stone found in the Achates River in Sicily, now known as the Drillo River, which still remains a major source of this stone.
Agate is the anniversary gemstone for the 12th year of marriage. Moss Agate is the anniversary gemstone for the 14th year of marriage.
There are several types of agate. Varieties include Blue, Blue Lace, Crazy Lace, Green, Indian, Moss, Tree and Wood. The Moss agate or mocha stone contains visible impurities in the form that resemble moss.
Agate will chip and crack rather easily though it has a hardness rating of 7. As with all gems, protect agate from scratches and sharp blows. Avoid sudden temperature changes and household chemicals.
Agate was discovered with the Stone Age man in France 20,000-16,000 BC. The Egyptians used it prior to 3000 BC. Agate was highly valued by ancient civilizations. Said by the ancients to render the wearer invisible. The agate-working industry grew up centuries ago in the Idar-Oberstein district of Germany, where agates were abundant. Cameos are cut from stones, such as onyx or agate, where different colors occur in layers. The background material is cut away, leaving the cameo design in relief. Agate is one of the gemstones, that used in commesso , also called florentine mosaic. Commesso is a technique of fashioning pictures with thin, cut-to-shape pieces of brightly colored, semiprecious stones, developed in Florence in the late 16th century. The stones most commonly used are agates, quartzes , chalcedonies , jaspers , granites, porphyries, petrified woods, and lapis lazuli . Commesso pictures, used mainly for tabletops and small wall panels, range from emblematic and floral subjects to landscapes.
Agate guards against danger. Wearers become temperate, continent and cautious. It helps one view themselves with more clarity and see the world through a broader viewpoint. Wearing Agate is believed to cure insomnia and to insure pleasant dreams.
Important sources of agate are Russia (Ural mountains), Brazil, Eygpt, Germany, India, Italy, Madagascar, Mexico, Uruguay and the USA (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana ).