agate

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agate

Geology
A microcrystalline silicate, which is characterised by fine grain and bright colours.
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Swirls of natural graphic design make a group of agate ornaments intriguing for the holiday tree, or just to hang on cupboards or window latches.
Target's fall collection includes the Threshold agate bookend, sleekly honed on one end to show the swirling layers, and left in its natural state on the other.
And she embeds little chunks of colorful agate -- considered long ago to bring owners a peaceful slumber -- with small clock faces, ready for the bedside.
Banded agates are formed by the successive deposit in layers of siliceous material, while moss and dendritic agates consist of branching inclusions of mainly manganese inside chalcedony, dendritic agates being like the pendant pictured that resemble ferns or trees.
Agates have been prized since ancient times and were actually named by the Ancient Greeks after the river Achates where they were first found.
At first, from the 1400s onwards, the cutters in Idar-Oberstein used locally-sourced material found along the Nahe river but when supplies ran out in the 19th century they started importing agates from Brazil and elsewhere.
Agates are also found in Britain and hunting for them can be an enjoyable pursuit.
Collectors of agates particularly look for the fine specimens that present beautiful vistas when cut open and polished.
Agates are often named after the sort of image the banding seems to delineate, such as flame, eye, landscape and fortification agates.
Agates can make attractive brooches and pendants, although their beauty is best appreciated when held up to the light rather than worn.
Baird said many families plan a stay around agate hunting.