I’m a rock hound. I collect rocks and minerals and more than just being a collector of these things, I go out there in the wilds of nature and collect them myself; well, a lot of them anyhow. That is what makes being a rock hound fun and worth it all, it is the getting out there and seeking out your own “common treasure.” Rocks and minerals are the commonest thing in the world and we wouldn’t have the rest that we have without them.
I’ve been collecting rocks and minerals for years and I have several lovely stones known as agates. A lot of them are what I call my “brook stones,” stones that have rolled into a stream and been washed, shaped and polished there. I have a few pieces made into costume jewelry. They are very pretty. I enjoy collecting rocks and minerals and I am very fond of agates namely because of the variety of patterns and colors that can be found in them. They are fun to collect. Agate is a semi-precious gemstone used to make jewelry and other crafts including dishes, fancy vases, jars, trinket boxes and other items.
Remember those marbles you played with as a child? If you happen to still have a bag of them lying around the house you probably have some agates called “Aggies” among them. They are to be treasured. They are made from agate, a semi-precious rock. Most of the marbles you buy today aren’t real “Aggies” though you can still get them.
Agate, though generally considered a rock is technically a mineral in the family of quartz associated with volcanic action, primarily the same as chalcedony but contains large amounts of magnesium, zinc, iron, manganese, cobalt, quartz silicates and carbonates giving agate its beautiful variations in color from shades of gray, brown, reds, yellows, white, greens and blues that form striations or marbleizing in the rock. There are both sedimentary and metamorphic rocks that resemble agate but are not true agate.
Agate is a silicon dioxide and is relatively common and may be fairly readily found along brooks and streams and rivers and lakes as water worn and rolled smooth pebbles and stones. These pebbles and stones are wonderful to collect and use for tumbling to make your own beads and to carve your own designs in, similar to doing scrimshaw. I have seen some beautifully carved cabochons made from this fascinating rock though I have never tried this craft myself.
Because of the many variations in agate it is fun to collect and is a good starting place for beginning rock hounds. They are easy to identify and an attractive part of any collection.
Agates are primarily used as gem-stones cut into cabochons, made into beads and used for carving and making ornaments and in its clay form used to create pottery; dinnerware, dishes, vases, pots, all manner of utilitarian items. My grandmother and my other both had dishes made from agate called “agateware,” some of the most famous being “Wedgewood,” but that is another story I’ll share in another article soon.
Agate has a harness of about 7 on the Moh Scale and a vitreous to waxy luster. It is commonly opaque but ranges to translucent. Agate us almost always compact and forms in nodules or veins and is frequently the principle component of geodes having a darker outer core and the inside banded in wavy bands and may have an inner cavity of cryptocrystalline quartz or clear quartz crystals in the center. Some agate may be slightly fluorescent depending on its mineral content.
This rock is a fascinating object because of its variety; the stripes, wavy bands and dendritic patterns that look like fossilized inclusions in the rock. Picture agate and Moss agate include these dendritic patterns that are in reality particles of various mineral inclusions that give the agate its fossiliferous illusion. Moss agate is commonly translucent green to gray-green in color with what appear to be fern-like inclusions.
The agate is considered to be a mystical stone found all over the world in all its rainbow colors. It is the birthstone for those folks born as Gemini’s in September and October in most countries around the world, the birthstone for May by the ancient Hebrews and Romans and for June by the ancient Arabic nations and is the 12th wedding anniversary stone.
The historical use of agate can be traced back to very ancient times, at least to 3000 BC. Agate is claimed to promote healing and having a cooling and calming effect on people as well as promoting strength both physically and spiritually, according to legend.
Some of the most popular forms of agate and most easily recognizes are banded agate, crazy lace agate, moss agate, plume agate, blue lace agate, picture agate, red agate, eye agate, green agate, black agate or black skin agate, Madagascar agate, Mexican agate, Kentucky agate and Montana agate to name a few.
As a rock hound I have to say that agate is one of the most fascinating rocks I collect. The designs and patterns in the rock captivate the imagination. They are beautiful to behold. I have some wonderful specimens of many, many different types of rocks and minerals in my collection and a few pieces might be considered quite valuable, real treasures and good examples of their kind but not much beats the wonder of agate in the overall when it comes to collecting rocks and minerals.