Agate gemstone is mainly used to make ornaments such as pins, brooches, necklaces, earrings, rings, pendants, paper knives, inkstands, marbles
and seals. Because of its hardness and ability to resist acids, agate is also used to make mortars and pestles to crush and mix chemicals.
No gemstone is more creatively striped by nature than agate, chalcedony quartz that forms in concentric layers in a wide variety of colours and
textures. Each individual agate forms by filling a cavity in host rock.
As a result, agate is often found as a round nodule, with concentric
bands like the rings of a tree trunk. The bands sometimes look like eyes, fanciful scallops, or even a landscape with trees.
Agate was highly valued as a talisman or amulet in ancient times. It was said to quench thirst and protect against fever.
Persian magicians used
agate to divert storms. A famous collection of two to four thousand agate bowls which was accumulated by Mithridates, king of Pontus, shows the
enthusiasm with which agate was regarded.
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Agate bowls were also popular in the Byzantine Empire. Collecting agate bowls became common among
European royalty during the Renaissance and many museums in Europe, including the Louvre, have spectacular examples.
There are many different types of agates such as mexican agate (showing only a single eye), Greek agate ( pale white to tan colored agate found in Sicily ),
Brazilian agate (found as sizable geodes of layered nodules which occur in brownish tones interlayered with white and gray), Rainbow agates (when
examined in thin sections by transmitted light, show a diffraction spectrum due to the extreme delicacy of the successive bands).
Other forms of agate include Lake Superior agate, carnelian agate (usually exhibiting reddish hues), Botswana agate, Ellensburg blue agate,
blue lace agate, plume agates, tube agate (with visible flow channels), fortification agate (which exhibit little or no layered structure),
fire agate (which seems to glow internally like an opal) and Mexican crazy-lace agate (which exhibits an often brightly colored, complex banded
pattern) also called Rodeo Agate and Rosetta Stone depending on who owned the mine at the time.