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 Agate

 

Gemstone:
Agate

Birthstone Month:
Agate is associated with the birthstone month of May.

Zodiac:
Agate is associated with the zodiac sign Gemini.

Chemical Symbol:
SiO2

Chemical Make-up:
Agate is a Silicon Dioxide and is a variety of Chalcedony, which is a member of the Quartz family. It is scientifically classified as either a cryptocystalline or a microcrystalline Quartz.

History & Lore:
The name Agate is believed to derive from the Greek word given to a stone that was found thousands of years ago in the Achates River in South-western Sicily, now known as Dirillo River.

Some of the earliest primitive tools that were created by man's ancestors 2.5 million years ago were made of various types of Quartz, including Agate. Agate has also been used as a gemstone and for other ornamental objects dating back thousands of years. Early Greeks used Agate in the form of amulets as protection from the dangerous elements of the sea.

In medieval times Agate was worn to bring God's favor and make one agreeable and persuasive. It was also believed to bring protection from all dangers and to be able to bring about victory and strength.

Agate has commonly been used to cure insomnia and to bring about pleasant dreams. It is also said to enhance the wearer's courage, improve perception and concentration, and to provide protection from dangers. Agate is believed to enhance trust and honesty, and to assist with acceptance to circumstances and emotions. In addition to this, Agate is believed to be able to improve memory.

 

Availability:
Agate is a widely distributed gemstone but is not currently in high demand. In general, prices for Agate tend to be quite modest with the majority of the price being accounted for by the fashioning of the stone rather then the stone itself. Only stones with extraordinarily colored strips / bands are expensive.

Sources:
It is documented that Agate was originally mined in the Nahe River Valley in Germany in 1497. These findings gave rise to the cutting center of Idar-Oberstein, Germany. When the deposits of Agate began to dry up in the Nahe River Valley in the nineteenth century, deposits were found in Brazil which sparked the discovery of the country's wide and varied gemstone deposits. There are also known sources of Agate in Australia, China, Congo, Egypt, Iceland, India, Italy, Madagascar, Mexico, Nepal, Russia, the United States, and Uruguay.

Evaluation:
Agate is rated at 6.5 to 7 on Moh's Scale of Hardness. There is not any specific care required, but general gemstone precautions are always a good idea so that the original condition of the stone can be retained. The variety of colors that Agate is found in is immense, and because its banding is so variable, different types of Agate have been given different descriptive names. Agate can be acquired rather easily and at affordable prices. The price of the stone primarily depends on the carat weight and the bands structure. Agate found with distinctive or extraordinary patterns and at larger sizes will naturally demand a premium.

Common Cuts:
The cut is a very crucial trait for the end look of Agate. The colors of this stone are found in strips, bands, or blended in clouds. The cutter must concentrate on these natural strips/bands well, cutting to assure that their beauty will be enhanced. Agate is often found in Cabochon cuts but can actually be cut into most of the common gemstone shapes/cuts.

Routine Enhancements:
Agate is often dyed with bright colors in order to enhance its beauty and appearance.

Care & Cleaning:
Agate can be cleaned using warm soapy water and a soft brush. As with most gemstones, Agate should be kept away from household chemicals and from prolonged exposure to extremes of heat that can cause damage to the stone. Agate should be kept in a fabric-lined box away from other harder jewelry items so as to avoid scratching.

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