The Greek philosopher, Theophrastus, in his “On Stones” says that the name Agate comes from the river ACHATES, known today as Drillo, in Sicily; this is because the first specimen of agate was found there.

Here we quote the above book: “The achates is also a beautiful stone; it comes from the river Achates in Sicily and is sold at a high price.” This river in Sicily was the source of agate gemstones for many centuries.

Agates form in the cavity of a host rock, most likely a volcanic rock. Water that contains silica and carbon dioxide percolates out of the hardened lava/rock. The silica is left behind and crystallizes. As these crystals radiate inward, pressure and heat cause a change in the structures of the crystals. Over time, this filling-in process together with the mineral impurities form intervening and contrasting bands. This pattern repeats until the whole cavity is filled up. This process takes millions of years.

Agate is a multicolored form of chalcedony quartz formed in beautiful and unique colored layer patterns. Bands run through the stone which exhibit many different colors, shadows and patterns. Depending on the base of the bands, it has a yellow, green or blue-white fluorescence. Each specimen is unique just as each slice from the same specimen has its own pattern.

The most common colors in agate are yellow, red, brown, green, white, black, gray, lilac and pink. It is translucent to opaque and comes in rounded nodules with colored inclusions.

Agate has a waxy-dull luster and a Mohs hardness rating of about 7. This means that it can scratch glass and it can withstand scratches from a knife. It is also hard enough to be made into any type of jewelry design.

Agates are grouped by the formation type, the location where they are found or by the distinctive pattern of their bands. Below are a few examples:

Eye Agate - this forms banding of concentric rings that are perfectly rounded with a point at the center

Moss Agate - this has the appearance of moss or grass painted on them (it is not to be confused with Dentritic Agate or Tree Agate where its inclusions are more brown and branch-like)

Fortification Agate - this is the most common and the most recognizable agate. It got its name because the banding looks like the aerial view of a fort

Water-line Agate - this has a recurring straight band of silica like a stack up of parallel bands

Onyx - this usually comes in black or white with black banding though it can be in other colors

Sardonyx - similar to Onyx with parallel banding of white and red colors (sometimes red, black and white).

Crazy Lace Agate - this is a white agate with swirls of red and brown

Iris Agate - this is rare and displays iridescent spectral colours in very thin banding on translucent, transparent or white base

Thunder Egg Agate - this is a baseball-sized geode that is filled with colored and layered crystals

Agate Geode - similar to Thunder Egg but it is usually hollow inside

Fire Agate - this is another of the most sought-after agate. This agate exhibits a rainbow-like lustrous color similar to that of Opal

Natural blue and green agates are rare and therefore they are more expensive than the others. Agates such as the Ellensburg Agates, Blue Lace Agate and Cellmark Agates can fetch a premium price too.

You may sometimes find translucent chalcedony in the form of agate and opaque chalcedony in the form of Jasper in one gemstone. This is called Jaspagate.

There are perhaps hundred more agates such as the Plume Agate, Shadow Agate, Tube Agate etc but the above are the most popular forms of agate.

Agate has been in use since the Stone Age and has been found in the tombs of ancient Egyptians nobility. Scientists believe that some agates in Australia range from 2.72 to 3.50 billion years old! Here we shall discuss an Agate that has been known and revered since the ancient times. It is the Eye Agate.

Eye agate was considered the stone of the seer and the prophet as it represented the third eye which today, we know as the pineal gland in the brain. The gray color of this particular stone resembles the gray material of the pineal gland in the brain.

Noteworthy is the fact that the pineal gland was known and held in high regard by ancient scholars who regarded this part of the brain as the occult seat of great, timeless knowledge, obtained from intuition and inner perception. The French philosopher René Descartes believed that the human pineal gland was the "principal seat of the soul."

This third eye has been proven that it is bigger in females than in males.

There is no doubt that the ancient men of knowledge saw this connection between the markings on the Eye Agate and made it a symbol of humanity’s inner faculties, such as inner peace and the inner presence of god.

You cannot but be in awe when you are in the presence of this beautiful stone. It is as though you are being shown the silent magical codes of Mother Earth.

The ancient wise men believed that a very pleasant and sweet scent could be obtained when two polished agates were rubbed together. The great poet and musician Orpheus mentioned that agate submerged in wine could improve its flavour.

Agate was thought to be a great protection against poisons and this was the reason many cups, bowls, vases and vessels for holding food and drinks were made from agate. The King of Pontus, Mithridates, in 3rd century BC had a collection of about 3,000 bowls created from this precious stone. This is evident of the high regard the ancient had for agates.

Agate was made into powerful talismans and seals. The Pylos Combat Agate seal which was just 1.5 inches was very intricately carved in western Greece about 1450 BC. How they could have done such detailed and delicate workmanship at that time is inconceivable and has continued to baffle researchers today.

Ancient scholars recommended the use of agate for protection against the pestilence and bites of insects and snakes. Farmers of old put agate at the horns of their cattle to bring about a good harvest.

Agate was seen as a holy instrument that could be used in war. It made the wearer powerful and confident in the victorious outcome of the battle.

It was believed that amulets made from agate protected the wearer from thunder and lightning, tempests, all malevolent elements, and dangers from war. Placing one in the mouth also relieved fever. Agate mixed with certain fruit juices was thought to cure insanity.

Eye agate was said to cure tired eyes, giving the wearer vitality, power and health. It enhances eloquence, communication skills and decorum.

Banded agate was said to take away the fear of the terrors of the ocean and dreaming of a banded agate was believed to have meant a sea journey.

Agate seeks divine help for you in this life and in the next. It purifies you and makes you agreeable and favorable towards God and humans.

Agate is found all over the world especially in places where there is volcanic activity. Today agate continues to be mined in Brazil, Uruguay, India, Australia, China, Madagascar, Mexico, India, Mongolia and Namibia.

Due to its porous nature, agate can be dyed red, blue, brown, yellow and green. If the color is too bright or neon, it is mostly like dyed or fake.

Agate feels relatively heavier than glass. As it is a slow conductor of heat, it remains cool in your hand.