When I first got into rock and gem hunting in Colorado I had a very serious fetish for crystals and gems. While I would see information here and there about agates, I really never quite got the clue about the world's fascination with agates until, just after moving to Oregon, I finally stumbled across my first gem quality banded agate in the Prineville area while hunting crystals and geodes. What a beauty it is - yellow and green banding, about 3 inches long. Finally I understood why people were drawn to agate hunting.
Agates can be found all over the world. The patterns are as diverse as the number of stones there are to be found, and all colors of the rainbow are represented. For a time I just started collecting these wonderful stones just for the delight of having them to look at. But as I learned more about the agate I found there is a whole world of reasons to collect them. Agates not only look terrific as display items, they are also provide the finder a versatile crafting outlet. Beautiful jewelry stones can be crafted from agates, from carbochons to beads.
Agates can be slabbed and the slabs can be used to make just about anything. I have a collection set aside for slabbing to build a “stained glass" type of window. Some people set the stones in fireplaces and mantles. You can make table tops inlaid with agate, dangling windchime like ornaments, pictures and picture frames, and lampshades. Agates can also be carved into ornamentive boxes, figurines, perfume bottles, and so on. I saw a tea set recently that was carved from agate ( it was magnificent, but I was afraid to even guess at the price of such a work).
For those of you buying and selling agates, the prices of a good stone can be somewhat surprising.
Stones can go from $5.00 up into the hundreds. Some museums display agates priced into the thousands of dollars. One agate from South Dakota brought the finder the healthy sum of $13,000!! So if you're hunting for items to sell, you may want to look to the agate for a good source of profit.
Finding Agates isn't too rough a job, yet top quality specimens take some determination and effort as they are not always plentiful. While maps abound with x-marks-the-spot agate hunting locations, you still can expect to spend some time hunting when you get to a location. Popularly travelled locations can get hunted out, too. Finding lesser known spots can take time as people are not always willing to let you in on their favorite sites. I have my own favorite site which produces spectactular stones. Some time if I find someone who really wants to go with me I will take them, but this is not a location I will scream to the world about (not just yet anyway). You can expect the same reaction from others when you visit localities and try to elicit information from local rockhounds about hunting sites. So expect that if you are hunting “off map" that you will be doing the work of locating beds all on your own. It's a tough job, but is very rewarding when you run across an uncharted agate bed.
To save you some time in looking up examples of what is just laying around out there for you to pick up, I have provided some links below that will take you straight to the pictures. I have looked at all of them myself (which has done nothing but make me want to get off this computer, pack, and get back out in the field) and found that you can click on any of the pictures for a closer look at the specimens.
Have a good time browsing the pictures on these links. I wish you the best of luck finding top value specimens of your own.
©2005 Sally Taylor: Sal is an avid gem and treasure hunter, explorer, writer, and is the owner of http://www.rockhoundstation1.com