Win a $25 Gift Voucher!

Subscribe! 1 winner/month

Socialize with Us!

Socialize with Us! Google Plus Follow us on Twitter

Share this Page

Submit to DeliciousSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

Shop!

Buy our Beads on Etsy

 

Top-100 Award

Bead blog top 100

Bead of the Week

red agateJust perfect for your Halloween creations -- these Red Agate Evil Eye beads are of stone that was formed from layers of silica from volcanic cavities. Agate is named after the Achates River (now known as the Dirillo River) on the island of Sicily, Italy, whose upper waters were an ancient source of this gemstone. Each strand offered here has 16 round faceted beads, with colors ranging from red to amber, as shown. Each bead is approx. 10 mm. with an approx. 2 mm. hole. Each strand is $10, but for a limited time, take 10% off with the code HALLOWEEN at checkout.

 

Search This Site

 

rainbow agate

 

 Do you think this is:

a) fossilized unicorn poop

b) a rock that ran into a rainbow

c) a crystal prescription   

d) none of the above    OR

e) all of the above   

? ? ?

fortification agate

 I like to think of it as ALL of the above. In reality, it's agate, belonging to the quartz family, and one of the first stones used by humans, with worked pieces dating back to 25,000 B.C. It is found in a wide variety of colors and patterns: blue, brown, green, orange, red, white, and yellow. The crystal may also have green or brown-black inclusions (moss agate), or regular bands around the edges (fortification agate, shown here on the right, in the pendant made by TheSilverBear of Etsy). Agate was sacred to the Greek god of healing, Aesclepius, and has long been associated with healing and protection.

In ancient Babylon, the various shades and colors of agate were believed to have different properties. Red agate was thought to cure insect bites and stings, green to cure eye infections, gray to treat throat infections, and black or striped agate to protect women from disease. It also has a long history of use as an amulet for protection from drowning, falling, mischievous fairies, and poison.

The Vikings and Saxons used agate to find lost items by axe and stone -- a method of divination known as axinomancy. A double-headed axe would be made red-hot and then placed in the ground, the shaft being pushed into a hole. A round agate pebble would then be placed on the axe head. If the pebble stayed on top of the axe, the questioner had to look elsewhere for the lost item; if it fell to the ground, the questioner had to follow the direction of the rolling stone to find the missing item. Even today, some claim that you can divine by holding an agate pendulum over your palm and testing it for answers, such as seeing how it responds to a simple yes or no question.

moss agate 2On a more scientific level, most of the world's agates developed in ancient volcanic lava. When the continents were first forming, layers of molten lava pushed toward the earth's surface through rift zone cracks, volcanoes, and other geologic events. Within the lava, there were pockets of trapped gases. Later, these gases escaped through cracks that formed as the igneous rock cooled and hardened, leaving hollow cavities. The agates developed as these cavities filled in, molecule by molecule, layer by layer, as microcrystals self-organized to form concentric bands or other patterns. The colors and arrangement of the crystals are related to changes in pressure, temperature, and mineral content that occured during the formation process. Unlike other gemstones, each agate is unique. Even slabs cut from the same specimen will vary in color and design.

I first learned about agates while walking with my husband along the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan, his home state. He told me about his aunt and uncle who used to comb these beaches, living for the moments when they would find these beautiful banded rocks. They learned to spot the stones' special luminescence among the plainer rocks. When we got home, he showed me the boxes and boxes of stones he had inherited, each special gem waiting (in my mind) to be cut, polished, and put on well-deserved display around someone's (my) neck!

agate necklaceI so admire the artisans who work with agate. Our feature photo above is a delicious creation by SpiritEarthStones of Etsy, composed of moss agate along with crystal glass beads, silver wire and accents, fancy jasper, red quartz, peridot, green jasper and more. And here to the right is a bold design by netalivne, also of Etsy, showcasing a long strand of beautiful black, white and cream-colored marbled agate beads.

Whatever you may choose to make with agate cabochons and/or beads, you can be sure it will be magical -- whether because of their beauty, their energy, or their fascinating geological history. If you already have some agate creations, or if this post inspires you to make some, please send us some photos and tell us about them!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy our previous posts A is for Agate Beads, and Rocks to Gems: A Metaphor of Transformation.

Until Next Time,

Sheila

 

 

Comments   

0 # Ellen W Gonchar 2016-05-23 16:03
Great article and so informative!! Thanks!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Somclaughlin 2016-05-23 16:19
Thank you, Ellen!! Hope you're healing up!!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Nancy Ayers 2016-05-24 14:35
I enjoyed this article very much! Agate is a favorite of mine, with so many variations. Thank you!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Somclaughlin 2016-05-24 14:48
Thank you so much, Nancy! I really appreciate that you took the time to comment!

Sheila
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Copyright © 2017 The Bead Collection. All Rights Reserved.