Gemstone Review – Agate Semi Precious Gemstone – agate gemstone price

Gemstone Review – Agate Semi Precious Gemstone – agate gemstone price
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Agate

Agate is a term correctly applied to chalcedony, which is characterized by color distributed in curved bands or layers. The term is also loosely used with a prefix to describe non-banded, patterned material; moss agate or mocha agate (milky-white chalcedony with green, black, or brown inclusions in dendritic patterns), landscape agate, lace agate, or fortification agate (straight hands which intersect).

Man’s Earliest Possessions

Agate is believed to have been among man’s earliest possessions. Stone Age jewelry, along with spear and arrow tips, have been found in prehistorical grave sights. Egyptians were mining agate as early as 3500 B.C., and early Sumerian inhabitants of Mesopotamia fashioned cylinder seals, signet rings, beads, and other ornamental objects from this versatile stone. Artifacts from 3000-2300 B.C. were created by these earliest lapidaries. The Sumerians were believed to be the first to distinguish precious gems from common minerals and may have been the first to give specific gems extraordinary attributes. The agate was believed to give the wearer special favor with the gods. Although it is evident that the stone was used abundantly, the source of Mesopotamia’s agate has never been determined.

Western Literature

The first reference to agate in western literature is also the source of Microcrystalline aggregates the name used in modern times. The Greek writer Theophrastus (372-287 B.C.) referred to beautiful stones which sold at a high price. He further stated that this stone was to be found in the river Achates (or Gagates) in Sicily. In 77 A.D. Pliny the Elder repeats this tale regarding the source of agate in his natural history and goes on to detail all knowledge of the stone to that date. Pliny states, “The achates was in older times highly valued but now it is cheap.” He carries on by cataloging the varieties distinguished and gives the names of each.

It occurs in large masses and in various colors, hence its numerous names: iaspisachates [agate-jasper], cerachates [chalcedony], smaragdachates [green agate], haemachates [red agate or agate with red], leucachates [chalcedony], and dendrachates [moss agate]. As to the variety called autachates [possibly amber], as it is burned it gives off a smell like that of myrrh.

Lore

Pliny’s writings are the source of many of the attributes which are given to agate. He recounts in his writings the beliefs which existed in first century Rome; looking at an agate rests the eyes, and an agate held in the mouth will quench the most desperate thirst. Coralloachates were then described as “spotted all over, like sapphirus, with drops of gold, was commonly found in Crete where it was also known as ‘sacred agate’.” This specific color of agate was said to be capable of curing the sting of deadly spiders and scorpions. Orpheus writes of another type: If thou wear a piece of the Tree-Agate upon thy hand, the immortal Gods shall be well pleased with thee. If the same be tied to the horns of thine oxen when ploughing, or about the ploughman’s sturdy arm, wheat-crowned Ceres shall descend from heaven with full lap upon thy furrows.

Magicians were warned to avoid agates which exhibited a pattern like a hyena’s hide, those stones were said to bring domestic turmoil. Stones which resembled a lion’s skin were said to be particularly potent against poisons, and were even more potent if worn on a cord made of the hair of a lion’s mane. The second century B.C. writer Damigeron states, “The Agate stone has great powers, and if it has a color like that of a lion’s skin it is powerful against scorpion bites, for if it is tied on, or rubbed on with water it immediately takes away all the pain and it cures the bite of a viper.” A red-yellow type, also called “lion agate,” was said to be the favorite of Roman gladiators as a source of courage and strength.

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The association of agate with the lion is repeated in Hebrew tradition. Ahair plucked from a lion’s mane was a source of courage for the Jews. The agate was considered a suitable substitute, and in time of need, possibly easier to find. The stone and the lion were said to be intertwined in their power. This is thought to be a source for the connection of agate with the zodiac sign Leo. The gem was said to belong to the tribe Nephtali, a name which translates as “my wrestling.” The agate would give the mite of a lion to those wrestling with both spiritual problems.

Roman tradition states that a wrestler who wears an agate is invincible, but only if the stone is of true color. Pliny’s writings provide a method used to test a stone to be certain its color is true. The tester is directed to place the stone in a pot of hot oil. After boiling for two hours, the color of the stone will tint the oil if it is genuine. Modern gemologists may note that this test for color is the reverse of a primitive method used to dye chalcedony.

Pliny wrote of the use of agate in the preparation of medicines. He specifically names two varieties as having curative powers. Powdered agate from India, described as a green stone, is to be administered as a remedy for eye diseases. Agate from Egypt or Crete, red in color, is best when a cure for spider or scorpion bites is required. No prescription was provided, however, as to the preparation or application of the stones. He does state that it is the cooling effect the gem has on the body that cures venomous bites. This ancient writer also confirms that mortars and pestles of agate were used by Roman physicians to grind their medicines.

Another portion of Pliny’s History describes the use of agate for other purposes. This stone was used to make cups for serving and consuming wine. These cups were said to cool the beverage. He tells of men who “search amid the regions of the clouds for vessels with which to cool our draughts and to excavate rocks, towering to the very heavens, in order that we may have the satisfaction of drinking from ice.” Pliny many times referrs to cups made of myrrha. The term is used without further definition, but many authors have translated it as a reference to amber. Pliny’s description of autachates as an aromatic stone (like that of myrrh) adds to this speculation. The fact that Pliny states the stone was gathered from towering rocks makes any confusion with amber unlikely. The term myrrha seems to serve as a generic term for “hard stone” or any stone resembling quartz. He does relate a tale that seems to refer to a form of agate is if it were amber. He wrote that Persians were said to use the pungent odor of burning agate to avert storms and to subdue violent rivers.

A Homing Device

An additional attribute of agate is found in the work of a fourth century Greek author, Physiologus. This early writer states that agate is useful in searching for pearls.7 The agate was lowered on a cord to near the bottom of the sea. As it sank like an anchor, the agate stone would turn toward the location of a pearl. A diver who follows the cord would be rewarded with a pearl bearing oyster. This method may not have proved very reliable, as this is the only known reference to this unique method of pearl collection.

Middle Eastern Lore

Stories concerning the virtues of agate have passed to us from numerous ancient cultures. The Egyptians held that each color of agate, white, gray, dull red, blue, yellow, and brown, possesses distinct and separate virtues. Forming images of their gods in each of these hues. The pharoh’s physicians prescribed the milky gray type to prevent a stiff neck and to ease symptoms of colic. The stone was to be applied directly to the sore to relieve suffering. Persians, Armenians, and Arabs did not draw a clear distinction between agate, carnelian and other chalcedony. All of these stones were considered to be of common origin. These cultures did divide stones by the place they were found. The most esteemed of the agate family were those called yamani. The yamani were the most attractive of the stones brought from Yemen.

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Travelers to the Near East returned to Europe with tales of stones and their reported virtues. The belief that red agates stop the flow of blood, and that a white carnelian, known as “milk stone,” increases the production of milk in lactating women are both given Islamic origin. From Tavernier’s early cataloging we have the name agates arborisées. This was Tavernier’s translation of the Persian word for tree-stone, the stone we know as moss agate. The name is taken from the Arabian seaport where these stones are exported to the West and the Near East. The Islamic beliefs became mixed with the traditions passed down from Greek and Roman writers.

Chinese Folklore

Travels further to the East brought knowledge of additional beliefs. Chinese herbalists and Taoist doctors classify agate as a special variety of stone called ma-nao. Literally translated the word means “horse’s brain,” due to the undulating patterns found on the surface of many rough specimens. When written in Chinese characters, the term ma-nao is preceded by the symbols for jewel or precious stone to eliminate confusion. The Chinese rank agate as neither common stone nor jade. It is ranked as inferior to jade but next to it in importance. To test for genuine agate is to rub it with a branch or twig, if it is warm, it is false. If it is cool, more than likely it is genuine.

The Middle Ages

Writers of the Middle Ages expanded upon the beliefs recorded by the ancients. The eleventh century Lapidary of Marbod states, “The wearer of an agate shall be made agreeable and persuasive to man, and have the favor of God.” The fourteenth century Lapidaire of Chevalier Jean de Mandeville gives an extensive list of attributes for the gem. Many of these were obviously drawn from earlier authorities, but Mandeville expands upon the stones virtues when he writes:

This stone destroys all venom and protects against snake bites and other venomous animals, and when one puts it in one’s mouth, it works against thirst, it comforts the sight, and protects the body’s health: it makes one a beautiful speaker and gracious with words, he who wears it is pleasing to God and to people, it gives one color in the face and helps one acquire intelligence and sense, it pulls one away from bad deeds and when an agate is put on a woman who is in a difficult labor, it makes her deliver, be the baby alive or dead, and if one rubs it against fire, the agate will give off a great odor; it will also give victory. It is said to be because of this stone that Anchise, an emperor, has won many victories and dodged many perils.

Agates are a stone found in many parts of the earth. There are many kinds: some are a black color with white veins, others bring to mind the color of coral, with red or golden veins, others are a crystal color, with saffron or red veins, others are a wax color with red and white spots. Another kind comes from India and is found in diverse colors and has pictures in different forms, some in the form of a man’s head, others shaped like trees, animals and birds.

Leonardo lists seven types of agate based on where they were thought to originate- Sicilian, Cretian, Indian. Egyptian, Arabian, Cyprian, and Persian. His descriptions, and those of Mandeville, include other gems, such as a stone that is probably amber. “The Persian being heated, smells like Myrrh, as some say” Leonardo adds, “all of them agree in this, to make men solicitous.” White agate symbolizes the old year and black to represent the unknown of the New Year.

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Some say Agate is used to cure insomnia and insure the bearer pleasant dreams. The Dream Book states that “To dream of agates will bring pleasant dreams to those born in June.” The text continues with a warning to those not born in this summer month, “but misfortune will befall those who wear the agate, or dream of this stone,” Additional attributes passed from the ancients include treatments for many ailments. Powdered in liquid, it could be ingested as a cure for insomnia or to give immunity from snake bite. This same tonic could be applied to the skin to add softness and suppleness. Agate was also prescribed as an eye stone. As recently as the early Twentieth Century, druggists would “keep tiny eye stones (of agate) to chase irritating cinders from the eye.” A famous 2nd century historian Damigeron suggests, “Ground and sprinkled on the wound and taken in drink, it cures.” Other historians sat holding the stone in the mouth as a cure for thirst,. One belief states that eagles carry agates to their nests to protect their young from the bites of venomous creatures.

Modern Day

Modern practitioners of metaphysics list numerous attributes for agate. Most of the qualities deal with enhanced communication abilities. Agate is said to increase the ability to make connections between the physical and spiritual worlds. The agate is used to stimulate analytical capabilities and precision thought. For these abilities, it continues as a popular talisman for business persons. It is also used to enhance meditative states and as a focal point in contemplation. The stone is also said to bring good luck, good health, wealth, and happiness.

Other qualities are connected to the many forms of agate. Those most often mentioned in contemporary literature and their associated qualities are listed below.

Blue Agate- strengthens the will and the ability to communicate effectively.

Blue Lace Agate- opens and balances the throat; promotes positive expression, optimism, and truth; opens the senses on all levels of awareness.

Black Agate- used as a “grounding” stone.

Botswana Grey Agate- Aids a smoker’s recovery, eases lung disorders, and promotes tissue regeneration.

Botswana Pink Agate- opens expression of feminine energy; promotes sensuality passion, and artistic ability

Brazilian Agate- calms nervousness; promotes happiness and peace.

Dendritic Agate- aids memory development, visualization abilities, and the ability to recall past lives.

Fire Agate- stimulates the whole physical system, especially the endocrine systems; aids tissue regeneration and cell memory; balances spiritual insight; brings harmony and aids in the development of compassionate detachments. It is also used to balance sexual and emotional issues.

Mexican Lace Agate- inspires happiness, the appreciation of beauty and aids in creativity.

Moss Agate- good for the circulatory system; balances left brain activity and the emotional body It is also associated with nature, rain, prosperity and fertility

Prairie Agate- a “grounding” stone, it promotes the ability to work in the material and physical plane.

Snakeskin Agate- aids development of spiritual insight at higher levels, opens intuitive abilities, and helps bring the spirit to mind; used in the healing of old issues and promotes spiritual rebirth.

Tree Agate- said to aid in the development of the inner strength, character, courage, and self fulfillment.

White Agate- grounds and balances the spiritual body and the higher mind, develops inner peace and tranquility and aids the spirit in body balancing.

Darcus Tori

– Agate Semi Precious Gemstone
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