I First words
It is really made of many layers of Chalcedony, like we often imagine and say about the onion, but it looks and smells better, but doesn’t taste as good, and it is not good for your teeth or digestion, so please do not swallow it. Uncalled for and unnecessary jokes aside, nature’s artistic capability is often unmatched, and one of the results of that great artist is this stone, showing imaginative and magnificent texture of concentric patterns of various forms and colours, creating images that will seem as out of this world, like a display of uniqueness, or an intersection of sole fiction.
II “History is life’s teacher” – Cicero
This stone has been known since ancient times, and according to one of the first known mineralogists Pliny the Elder, it was named after the stones found on the banks of river Akhates, Sicily. Yet, this name is identified in some Anglo-Saxon derived languages too, with seemingly different origins, so it is possible that the same term got matching names out of two different sources.
This “gem of so many faces” was appreciated even 3.000 years ago in Egypt, used to make scarabs (hideous but sacred bugs), cups and other similar things, and even rings or other forms of jewellery. Famous is the set of 4.000 bowls, which were passionately collected by King of Pontus, named Mithridates VI. This kind of bowls were popular too in the Byzantine era, and this custom sustained through the Renaissance. Many museums in Europe, including the Louvre, have wonderful examples of bowls and vases.
III Gemmology and geology
It is a variety of Chalcedony (SiO2), a “crypto crystalline” variety of quartz. It consists of Chalcedony layers distributed in different patterns. Most common distribution is in parallel straight layers, and different distribution of layers sometimes carries own sub-type names: “banded” when colours are piled in parallel bands, “eyed” when bands are given in circular arrangement, “fortification” when bands are angularly arranged. Moss or Mocha stone has dendritic inclusions resembling moss or grass, and agatised wood is a chalcedonic pseudomorph made of manganese minerals, which resemble fern or wood. There are over fifty various kinds of this stone, making it one of most diversified in the world.
IV Gem value and quality in lapidary
The colour range of this stone is measureless and comprise of scarlet, cherry, yellow, chocolate, black, light, and grey. Impurities and different shapes within the mineral structure, disturbing any colour uniformity, are at the same time providing it an appealing appearance that made it a accepted and striking decoration. It is possibly the most fashionable amongst the opaque gemstones.
It was used for fine jewellery production for thousands of years. It is typically treated “en cabochon” and used for earrings, brooches, pendants, necklaces, rings and other jewellery. “Granular processing” is used in the production of earrings and necklaces, and also for making sculptures and book holders. It has been used as a>It was used for fine jewellery production for thousands of years. It is typically treated “en cabochon” and used for earrings, brooches, pendants, necklaces, rings and other jewellery. “Granular processing” is used in the production of earrings and necklaces, and also for making sculptures and book holders. It has been used as a marble stone for flooring and coating walls of palaces and houses of royalty, and those who would like to think so about themselves.
In order to improve colour intensity, it was sometimes artificially dyed in a manner known from the ancient times, and it was especially used in Ancient Rome. To obtain the red colour, it is treated with iron oxide, and after it is heated to high temperatures. Yellow is obtained in a similar way. What is very intriguing for the author of this text is our need to somehow change and influence even something so beautiful nature made as this stone.
V Interesting facts
Most important findings of this stone were located Idar-Oberstein, the Nahe river valley in Germany but it was exhausted in 1827. It was found later in Brazil, a location well-known for a number of sites of a range of precious and semi-precious stones.
Today, Idar-Oberstein is still known for the finest craftsmanship and fretwork on precious stones, but especially for Agate. Other precious stones are being delivered from all over the world and being crafted at Idar-Oberstein.
VI In folklore, and in healing
We can say that this healing crystal is not only a very nice ornament, but it continues to be considered an immensely popular and powerful talisman.
In ancient times, this stone was highly valued as a talisman. It was believed to extinguish excessive thirst and protect against fever. It is known that the Persian mystics and magicians used it to change the path of the storm, protecting villages and crops.
Traditional and Ayurvedic esotery considers it to be a birthstone of the month of May, but followers of some more mystical religions claim it is a birthstone charm of those born in September. It is said that is beneficial for those born under the zodiac sign Gemini. It is believed to bring truth and courage to one that wears it. Agatised wood is believed to be beneficial to crops and gardens, so should be kept in the gardens.
VII This unique gemstone in myth
There is a myth that speaks about a girl named Psyche, who was the youngest and most beautiful daughter of a certain king. Such was her beauty that it has made jealous even the goddess of beauty and love, Venus, so she decided to punish this mortal for her insult. She sent her son, the mischievous Cupid, to descend upon the girl grief of unrequited love.
But Cupid became so dismayed at a site of Psyche beauty so instead he wounded himself with his own arrow, and so this irresistible immortal became fatally in love with a mortal girl and her beauty. He used to come at night to entice Psyche, always hidden in the dark chambers of the palace.
To discover who the mysterious admirer was, Psychic used a lamp made of Agate to illuminate Cupid, as it was the only lamp which was able to penetrate the darkness that Cupid had clothed himself into to hide his identity …
Allegories of this story are many, one we see is that only lamp made of this stone shone clearly enough to pierce the darkness of the Psyche’s soul (psyche) and to discover the face of her future, great love? We leave to readers to decide on the way in which they want to understand this myth.