Agate may be a gorgeous gemstone that, within the hands of expert designers, can become classy and stylish jewellery. It is affordable and comes in a range of colours and natural designs.
Because of the wide variety of agate gemstones available, you are bound to find a piece of agate that will be exactly what you are looking for.
In this shopping guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about agate to help you make the right decisions and ask the right questions before you purchase. You might also like some other gemstones in our collection, such as garnets and onyx stones.
What Exactly Is Agate?
Agate is a variety of chalcedony, which is a microcrystalline form of quartz. Microcrystalline means that the rock structure is made up of fine and minute crystals (often only visible under a powerful microscope).
Not all agate qualifies as a semi-precious stone. It has to be of a certain quality and colour.
Agate is found everywhere in the world but most notably in Brazil, Uruguay and Mexico.
So how exactly does agate form?
This is the process whereby silica is deposited within pockets of igneous rocks. The agate forms either around the walls of the pocket, forming concentric layers, or in layers starting from the bottom up.
As each new wave of silica deposit is brought in from groundwater, these packed layers continue to grow, creating the banded patterns that easily distinguish agate from other stones.
Because of the way it is formed, each piece of agate is different from the other, making the stone you buy distinctly yours. This is one main reason that makes agate so perfect for jewellery.
No one else will have an identical piece, making yours unique.
Agate is one of the oldest gemstones used in jewellery. In fact, small agate beads have been found in the Middle East and are thought to be approximately 9000 years old!
Types of Agate
As you probably already know, agate comes in many forms. These varieties occur due to the composition of the stone and are distinguished mainly based on colour and inclusions.
It would take a whole article just to list and explain each type of agate so we’ve only listed some of the most popular varieties below.
Agates with Unique Inclusions
Dendritic Agate: This is not the typical type of agate. It does not have a banded pattern but instead is mostly colourless, white or gray, with brown/black diverging inclusions.
Dendritic agate is sometimes called tree agate because it’s interesting inclusions are dendritic, which means having a branched form like a tree. If you’re willing to fork out a little bit more money for it (it is a pricier variety of agate), it is well worth it due to its unique and intriguing look.
Moss Agate: What set moss agate apart is its noticeable impurities. It does not contain bands as typical agates do and is similar to the dendritic variety in this respect.
Moss agate is a white stone with greenish inclusions, suggestive of moss (hence the name).
Plume Agate: This form of agate has feather-like inclusions, mainly on the surface, suggestive of ferns or other fauna present on the walls of the rock cavity during formation.
When polished and properly cut, these inclusions blend in beautifully with the stone, creating dazzling designs and stunning colours.
Agates with Stunning Colours and Patterns
Fortification Agate: This is the most common type and generally the one that springs to mind when we talk about agates.
This variety has the famous crystallized bands that follows the contours of the cavity, and when sliced, looks much like a colourful cross-section of an old tree, full of rings.
Fire Agate: This beautiful and rare variety of agate comes with an iridescence that sets it apart. Fire agates are old stones, formed many millions of years ago through volcanic explosions.
The stone itself looks fiery thanks to its reddish-brown colour often combined with little shots or swirls of colour. It is a valuable stone and may accompany a premium.
Lace Agate: As the name suggests, this variety is like beautiful lace with elaborate hoops and swirls. It is among the rarest and most highly coveted forms of agate. You can find these in many colours, with red and blue being quite rare.
Prices of collared agates are calculated per carat as agates are sold by weight. Similar sized stones of different varieties vary largely in value, so it’s important to know the variety that you are buying.
Where to Buy Agate gemstones
Agate may be a mainstream gemstone so finding a bit of agate jewellery at your local store won’t be too difficult. However, for more options and a few gorgeous designs, we propose searching online. If searching for agate jewellery on the internet, ensure that you’re buying from a reputable store with a proven track record.
You are most welcome to contact Your Diamonds directly to get the best quality agate in all shapes, cuts, colours and sizes.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is defined as the cryptocrystalline type of silica because agate is comprised of such minute crystals. Silica is the main component in sand in all over the world. Therefore an agate is grainy, but chock full of colour.
Agate has a variety of colours form gray to green to pink and purple, yellow, white, brown and even black. Some are even banded like a rainbow.
Yes they are, they rate from 7 to 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness.
Strangely enough, agates are mostly found within volcanic rock. They are then sorted and assessed and the gemstone quality stone are cut and polished.
They are mainly set in jewellery pieces such as pendants, brooches, bracelets and rings. Some larger pieces are made into inkstands and ornaments.