Victorian Scottish Agate and Silver Brooch.
Victorian Scottish Agate and Silver Brooch.

Agate is a variety of chalcedony found in many different colors and degrees of translucency. There are several varieties of agate named after their location of origin or physical characteristics. The layers of agate form as layers of chalcedony line a cavity (or vug) in a host rock.

The banding that characterizes agate has made it the perfect medium for the carving of cameos and intaglios. Cameos are most often carved with the white layer in relief, while in intaglios, the figure is engraved into the darker layer to expose the light layer below.

A Brief History of Agate

Agate derives its name from a river in Sicily, which the Greeks called Achates. Vast quantities of agate were discovered in this river as early as 300 B.C. During the reign of Julius Caesar, while engaged in the Gallic Wars, deposits of agate were discovered along the Nahe River in Germany. The Romans set up sophisticated gem-cutting facilities, powered by the running water of the river. These lapidaries have remained in existence for over 2000 years! When the agate deposits were depleted along the Nahe River in the 1800s, the gem cutters in Idar-Oberstein began importing material from Brazil.

In Egypt, grey agates were often worn around the neck to protect against and heal stiff necks. Ancient Romans believed moss agates to have “divine” power. Ingredients for lotions and ointments were ground on moss agate as it was believed to have the power to improve one’s disposition as well as one’s eyesight.

In Persia and Asia, agates had been used as an anecdote for fevers. They were placed in the mouth to relieve thirst and reduce one’s temperature. The Book of Saxon Leechdoms written in 1864 writes that agate prevents harm from thunder, sorcery, demonic possession, poison, and drunkenness.

During the reign of Queen Victoria, Scottish agate jewelry became the height of fashion. Lovely examples of these Victorian agate jewels are coveted by collectors today.

Victorian Banded Agate Drop Earrings.
Victorian Banded Agate Drop Earrings.
Victorian Moss Agate Day and Night Earrings.
Victorian Moss Agate Day and Night Earrings.
Antique Agate and Rose Gold Cuff Links.
Antique Agate and Rose Gold Cuff Links.

Agate Gemological Information

Color:All Colors
Crystal Structure: Polycrystalline
Refractive Index:1.53-1.54
Family: Quartz
Similar Stones:Chrysoprase, Jasper, Carnelian, Bloodstone, Onyx
Country of Origin:Agate is Found Throughout the World

Agate Care

Ultrasonic Cleaning:Not Safe
Steam Cleaning:Not Safe
Warm Soapy Water:Safe
Chemical Attack:Sensitive to chemical attacks
Light Sensitivity:None
Heat Sensitivity:Sensitive to Thermal Shock
Close Menu