The eye that sees good
Agate is a semi-precious stone, mineral, type of quartz and fine-fiber chalcedony, which has been known for over 6,000 years.
Externally, agate differs from other stones in an incredible variety of shades, as well as a pronounced layered pattern. More than 150 different variations of this mineral have been found in nature. A fairly hard and dense material that has a shine.
The layered texture of agate can be very picturesque – almost always beautiful and very romantic patterns. And the variety of shades of agate is fantastic! An extremely bright stone with a multi-colored layered pattern.
Today, two versions of the origin of the name “agate” are being considered.
The first option is from the Sicilian Dirillo River (Italy), in which agate was mined. In ancient times, the river was called “Ahates”. This origin of the name of the stone was noted in his writings by the famous scientist of antiquity Pliny the Elder.
The second option – the name of the stone comes from the Greek “abates” (ἀγαθός) – happy, kind, good.
In ancient literature, there are such names for agate as “agates” or “agate stone”.
The famous legend of the Holy Grail is associated with agate. Defeated Satan, falling into hell, lost the agate that adorned his crown. This gem has turned into a chalice – the Holy Grail. It was in this cup that Joseph of Arithee collected drop by drop the blood of Jesus Christ crucified on the cross. According to the legend, whoever drank from the Grail, all sins are forgiven and immortality is granted.
Color and Patterns of Agate
The palette of agate colors is extremely rich: the colors of the stripes can be completely different tones and shades – white, black, pink, red, gray and blue. Most often, gray-blue agates are found in nature.
Colors of agate patterns – most often gray-blue and white layers alternate. Also, the patterns of the layers are yellow, red, brown, black. Layer boundaries are not always clear – sometimes barely noticeable.
Ribbon patterns of agate are not just in the form of bizarre figures, but also in the form of real paintings. Picturesque patterns can remind you of the gentle sea or the mighty walls of ancient fortresses, the cold tenderness of the northern white nights or the majestic hills of golden deserts, blooming scarlet roses or other amazing images.
Agates also vary in transparency – from almost transparent to translucent and completely opaque. Gray, blue, white, translucent or opaque ribbon-like layers picturesquely alternate with each other. Most thin stones show through in the sun. And when agate is weathered, a noble patina forms on its surface.
Applications of Agate
Agate from ancient times to the present day is used to make jewelry – rings, signet rings, earrings, bracelets, brooches, pendants, beads and various jewelry. Even in ancient times, caskets and vessels of amazing beauty were carved from agate – its layered color turned the products into real works of art. And today they make small stone-cut products such as boxes, powder boxes, etc.
In antiquity, seals were made from agate, cameos and various examples of artistic carving were carved.
The largest piece of agate is a unique artifact of antiquity, a dish 75 cm in diameter, carved from a solid stone. The fantastic jewel was made in the 4th century BC in Trier (Germany). Today this treasure is kept in one of Vienna’s museums.
Agate was highly valued by ancient healers and alchemists, who considered agate a stone of health and longevity. Nowadays agate is also used in occult rites as a healing stone with magical properties.
In everyday life, stone is used as a decorative and ornamental material – finishing tiles, countertops, mosaic panels, all kinds of elements for decorating interiors, etc. are made from it.
The origin of Agate
The process of the origin of agates in nature has not yet been completely clarified. Scientists are considering different theories of the processes of origin of both the stone itself and the thin strips-layers on them. The mystery of nature has not yet been solved. It is known only in what environment this mineral is formed – in the accumulations of lava, tuff, in volcanic accumulations. According to one of the versions, agates are formed in gas bubbles of volcanic lavas, in limestone leaching cavities and other prepared cavities, where silica solutions penetrate and are deposited in layers on the walls.
Agate deposits are found in almost all areas of young volcanism. The stone is found in the form of tonsils, veins and other formations.
In ancient times – Egypt, in the territories of modern Germany, France.
Nowadays – Great Britain, Norway, Madagascar, Mexico, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Mongolia, Egypt, Germany, India, Italy, Uruguay, Brazil, Mongolia, Armenia, Georgia, Tajikistan, Australia, USA.
In Russia – the Urals, the Caucasus, Eastern Siberia, the Far East, Primorye, Moscow region, Irkutsk region, Magadan region, Chukotka.
The main Russian deposits are located in the Timansky ridge, in the Amur and Magadan regions. In Transbaikalia there are whole mountains of agate and other colored chalcedony.
Story of Agate:
Agate was found back in the Stone Age on the territory of modern France in the period 20,000-16,000 BC. e. In Egypt, the stone was used in 3000 BC. Ancient civilizations highly appreciated the properties and beauty of agate. The people of the Stone Age believed that agate scares away black forces and, with special rituals, can make a person invisible.
Agate was used in various qualities in Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, Persia, India and other countries.
From the very beginning, jewelry, vessels, bottles, souvenirs were made from agate, images were cut out of it. Due to the characteristic pattern, agate was processed in the shape of an eye and inserted into the eye sockets of the statues.
Agate was in high demand as a material for stone carving (glyptic). The unique specimens of carving that have survived date back to 2000 BC. to this day they are carefully kept in museum collections and private collections – these are stunning Babylonian seals with scarabs, seals with lions and sphinxes, carved brooches and rings, made using the most complex cutting technique.
Ancient Roman healers and sorcerers ground medicines in agate mortars – this contributed to the rapid cure of diseases, and also helped during childbirth. In the treatises of ancient Roman scholars it is mentioned that the rings with agate “add eloquence and intelligence to the speaker, help in sports, and pacify anger.”
Ancient primary sources tell about the connection of agate with the Moon and Mercury, depending on the color of its coloring. Layered patterns told ancient thinkers about the magical properties of stone – agate protected from bad weather, prevented floods and flooding of rivers, contributed to sports achievements and had an erotic effect on women.
In a well-known early Christian source – a collection of articles on animals and stones “Physiologus” – it is said that with the help of agate pearls were taken from the bottom of the seas. Divers for pearls tied agate to a rope and lowered it into the water, said a special incantation “now the agate will come to the pearl and will not pass by it”, and then descended along the rope to the bottom and found shells with pearls. The catchers explained this by God’s providence – the pearls symbolized Jesus Christ, and the agate – St. John, who pointed to the spiritual pearls with the words: “Look, this is the lamb of God that bears the sins of the world.”
In the Middle Ages, agate was actively used for healing – they rubbed it with water and made lotions against the bites of snakes and scorpions.
The medieval naturalist Lonisser described the multi-colored veins of agate in his scientific works: “if you apply agate stones to the head of a sleeping person, then he sees pleasant and frequently changing dreams”.
The English writer Jean de Manderville believed that agate spiritually enriches its owner and improves his eloquence.
The alchemist of the 16th century, Pseudo-Albert the Great, argued that the variety of agate with black veins has the most positive effect on a person: it gives him vitality, makes him nobler and arouses the love and respect of others.
During the Renaissance, agate became widely used in Italy as a talisman. Agate was especially revered by Italian masters and artisans.
Types of Agate:
Classic agate is a stone with bluish-gray and white layers, which form a pronounced circular pattern. It is simply impossible to list all the varieties of agate – there are a lot of them.
Varieties with their own name:
Onyx – white and black layers.
Carneolonics – red and white layers.
Sardonyx – brownish brown and white layers.
Chrysoprase is an apple-green, herb-green, bluish-green stone.
Moss agates are black crystalline branches of manganese on a light and yellow matte background.
Varieties by the nature of color and pattern:
Other popular agate varieties:
Agate black magic
A very rare and beautiful type of agate with high decorative properties. The color is very intense. The stone has an excellent luster. One of the leaders among jewelry agates.
Blue sapphire agate
Light blue agate. One of the rarest and most valuable types of agate. Very beautiful and delicate. The shade depends on the number of inclusions in the chalcedony of microscopic grains of a-quartz, zircon and other metals. The finest fibers are intricately intertwined, creating an iridescent moire effect.
The pattern of the layered texture of the stone is similar to ancient images of cityscapes or bastions. It is also called a serf or fortification. Angular shape of the picture. Crossed layers and overgrown cracks resemble ancient maps and city plans.
Agate with thin concentric layers. Brazilian agate is one of the most common types of agate. It happens with wide stripes, thin stripes and stripes of different thickness. The color of the paint depends on the deposit. Milky-gray, bluish-gray, lilac agates are found in Armenia. In Azerbaijan – gray-blue, white-blue. In Russia (Irkutsk deposit) – red. The stripes are also bright red, orange-red, orange-yellow, pink-gray, with shades of lilac. Irkutsk agates are opaque, often with two or three crystallization centers in one amygdala. This type of agate is called polycentric.
Ocellated (ocellated) agate is one of the most beautiful agates. The pattern of concentric layers of stone is a circle, visually similar to the eye. Other names for eyeglass agate are “owl’s eye”, “spectacled agate”, “Aleppo stone”.
One of the rarest agates – the rarest texture in the world. This is coral replaced by agate. The color of the stone is pale brown. The star pattern is chalk white. Large, pronounced star. Harvested on the southwest coast of England.
Iridescent (rainbow) agate has the thinnest, densely spaced chalcedony layers that split light into a spectrum. This creates a very beautiful rainbow play of colors (moire effect). Rainbow agate shimmers and shimmers wonderfully due to the fact that chalcedony submicro-layers are devoid of pores, and layers of a-quartz have high refractive indices.
Variety of chalcedony, cryptocrystalline variety of quartz. Layered texture, color – in the form of stripes. One of the most unusual and popular semi-precious stones. Bright stripes, soft play of color.
It is a petrified wood. The organic matter of the tree is replaced by chalcedony, with all the details of the structure preserved.
A variety of parallel-layered agates. The color can be gray-white, fawn, pink-white, red ribbon. Gray onyx is an agate with a predominance of gray stripes. White onyx is an agate with a predominance of white stripes.
There is also fire (fiery), feathery, point (mosquito), disc, honeycomb, frosty, tortoiseshell agate, as well as plasma agate, prase, heliotrope and many others.
Ancient Legend about Agate
According to an ancient legend, agate is the eye of a heavenly eagle that fell to Earth during the battle between the dark and light forces and turned into stone. Since then, the stone-eye looks at people, and separates evil from good deeds. Hundreds of legends and myths tell about this mysterious and amazing stone, which personifies the Eye of the Creator, symbolizes good, has magical and healing properties, and even provides protection from vampires.
In ancient times, it was believed that rings and amulets with agate ward off troubles, protect from the intrigues of enemies and evil spirits, and protect them on the way. The magical power of agate gives calmness, fills with kindness, gentleness and prudence.
Read more about: The magical properties of agate