Agate gemstones have been prized since antiquity and are a variety of Chalcedony, which in turn is a member of the Quartz family. It was given its name by Theophrastus, a Greek philosopher who is believed to have discovered the gemstone on the banks of the river Achates in the 4th century BC. The gemstone was later mentioned in the Bible as one of the “stones of fire”.
Made from silicone dioxide, it has a glassy lustre, and registers 7 in hardness on the Mohs scale. Being such a hard stone, Agate is often used to make brooches and pins. Additionally, as it has also been used to make mortars and pestles to press and combine chemicals.
Myths and legends suggest that when a person wears Agate, they become more pleasant and agreeable. It is believed to quench thirst, protect against viruses (including fever) and to cure insomnia. Some traditions also believe that Agate can even cure the stings of scorpions and bites from poisonous snakes!!
Many Agates originate in cavities of molten rock where gas bubbles trapped in solidifying lava are replaced with alkali and silica bearing solutions. Formed as a banded round nodule (similar to the rings of a tree trunk) the gem boasts and exquisite assortment of shapes and colours of bands, which may be seen clearly if a Lapidarist cuts the sections at a right angle to the layers; this is sometimes referred to as Riband Agate.