Agates are members of the chalcedony family.
Chalcedony (kal SED' nee) is any form of microcrystalline quartz, where the crystals are too small to be seen without high magnification. However, in the rock world, only the translucent or transparent, single color types are sold as "chalcedony". The rest of the stones in the chalcedony family are sold under individual variety names, or as jasper or agate. While the definitions overlap, Jasper usually refers to an opaque stone, with a solid color or an irregular display of colors caused by various mineral impurities. The named is derived from the Greek word that means “spotted stone”. Agate is defined by its translucency (ability to see light through it), and by its clearly defined pattern or banding of multiple colors. Of course there are exceptions. Opaque stones that are called agates include Crazy Lace Agate, Fire Agate, Tree Agate and Sardonyx.
Agate was named from where it was first found - by the River Achates (now called the river Drillo) in southwest Sicily.
Agates are found all over the world, with certain colors or patterns unique to particular localities.
They have a hardness of 7, making them great stones to wear. Most agate rocks are named after their colors or their appearance, or from where they are found.
Some agate stones named after their location are: Botswana (Africa), Coyamito (Mexico), Luna (Mexico), Laguna (Mexico), Graveyard Plume (Idaho), and Brazilian Agate (Brazil has the most massive deposits of agate in the world and they are mostly found in southern Brazil.)
Some agates named after their colors or appearance are: White Plume Agate is named for the plume like inclusions, Turritella Agate is composed mostly of turritella shells, Blue Lace Agate is lavender blue with lacey white pattern, and Crazy Lace Agate is named for its wild lacey pattern.
Agates come in the following varieties: eye agates have circular patterns, tube agates have tube shaped inclusion, banded agates, picture or scenic or landscape agates, dendritic agates have tree or plant like inclusions, thunderegg agates are spherical or ball shaped rocks, flame agates has flame shapes, iris agates have an iridescent play of rainbow colors when held in a bright light, moss agate has mossy inclusions, plume agate has plumes, sagenite agates have needle like inclusions, and cloud agate.
The belief in the magical properties of the rocks and minerals is not new. Belief in the supernatural properties of rocks and minerals bringing peace, wellness and protection goes back beyond recorded history. There are ancient legends that trace rocks, minerals and crystals back to the creation of the Earth and the Universe. Most of my metaphysical information is taken from The Book of Stones-Who They Are and What They Teach, with permission from its co-author, Mr. Robert Simmons. The Metaphysical or Healing Properties of Agates: in general agates are known for being lower intensity stones. They are considered stabilizing and strengthening influences.
Natural agate was discovered with the Stone Age man in France 20,000-16,000 B.C. But scientist believe that some agates in Austrailia range from 2.72 to 3.50 billion years old! Agate was highly valued by ancient civilizations, as it was believed to render the wearer invisible. In Islam culture, Agate is believed to protect the wearer from tragedies or evil. In many legends agate is believed to cure the stings of scorpions and the bites of snakes, soothe the mind, prevent contagion, quiet thunder and lightning, secure the favor of the powerful, and bring victory over enemies. The Babylonians used eye agates for protection against evil. The ancient Egyptians believed that agates protected the wearer from lightning, bestowed the power of speech, and quenched thirst if you put it in your mouth. Persian magicians used agate to divert storms. Ancient Chinese believe wearing agate jewelry would purify one's mind, energize one's chi and bring good luck and great opportunity. The practice in Medieval times was to tie them to the horns of your oxen to ensure a good harvest, but the danger was in possibly losing your oxen if they became invisible before you could remove the stones!
Agate is also mentioned in the Bible as being one of the "stones of fire" (Ezekiel 28:13-16) given to Moses and set in the breastplate of Aaron (Exodus 28:15-30). Sardonyx, a form of agate, is one of the twelve gemstones in the walls of Jerusalem.
Learn more about the Stones in the Bible here.
Click on any of the Agate names above for more specific information about that variety of Agate.
OakRocks has been in the rock and mineral business for 30 years. We are a great source for a variety of agates and carry a large selection of rough, cabochons, and polished pieces.