Agate gemstoneHome ➤ Encyclopedia of gems ➤ Agate gemstone
Agate (owl's eye, spectacle agate, dendrite, bastion agate, frost agate, rainbow agate, cloud agate, flaming agate, and swallow) is one of the most amazing gemstones, although it is only a kind of common gemstone quartz. First of all, it is due to its specific layered structure. Moreover, the pattern of these strips (and sometimes they are concentric or linear) sometimes creates amazing paintings. But about this a little later.
Agate has been known to mankind for a long time. And at all times, this stone was appreciated by people. In one version, the name of the stone comes from the Greek word ahates, which means "happy. However, according to another version, the name comes from the Sicilian river Ahates, where agates were extracted a long time ago, but I think fans of this stone will prefer the first version.
The color range of the stone is quite diverse - from white and yellow to green and black (now black agates have become especially popular). And very often, the colors of strips can be very different even in one stone. For example, there are specimens with concentric colored layers similar to the eye (they are even called "owl eye," "eye" or "spectacle agate," respectively). In such agates, only 1 cm wide, there can be about 7000 different layers. Of course, it is impossible to see such a number of layers and colors with the naked eye, but these stones look very impressive and beautiful.
Sometimes, numerous layers of agate look like patterns and even paintings. The pattern on the stone, which resembles a forest thicket, is highly appreciated by the residents of the East. They even invented a separate name for such stones: moss agate. Agates with a tree pattern are called dendrites or dendrite stones (Greek dendron means "tree"). Or, the pattern may appear as if it were mist - such stones are called "frost agates. Also, sometimes the layers form something similar to an ancient map of a fortress: these are fortress, fortification, and bastion agates. There are also other types of agates - cloud agates, rainbow agates, flame agates and others.
Known varieties of agate:
- eye agate (spectacle agate, owl eye) - agate stones with concentric layers, the patterns of which are similar to the eye
- moss agate (dendrite agate) - stones with a pattern similar to moss or tree branches
- bastion agate - stones with a pattern reminiscent of fortresses or bastions
- landscape agate (landscape agate) - stones with a pattern that is similar to landscape patterns
- iridescent agate (iris agate, scampium) - stones with very thin layers that create an iridescent coloration
- fire agate (flame agate) - stones with inclusions that create a bright iridescent color, sometimes similar to a flame
- ribbon agate - stones with straight parallel layers similar to ribbons
- frost agate - stones with inclusions forming a pattern similar to spinning snowflakes
- pinnate agate - stones with a pattern similar to pinnate clouds
- star agate - stones with a star pattern
However, this is only an approximate division. After all, each pattern of each individual agate is unique. For example, the ancient Greek historian Pliny tells us about a stone of agate named "the stone of Pyrrhic", in whose patterns you could see a picture with Apollo and nine muses. And some varieties of agate got their separate names, no less famous, such as onyx or sardonyx.
Back in ancient times, cameos were carved from agate - pictures with convex images. And the masters used the natural pattern of agate in such a way that it favorably emphasized the picture depicted by the artist. Intaglios were also made of agate, stones with carved patterns used as prints. Cameo and intaglio were very popular among the nobility, and some were even framed with diamonds or other very expensive stones.
Yet, despite the above, agate is quite an inexpensive stone. It may be due to its wide distribution.