Characteristics: Agates is a type of chalcedony usually formed in fine multi layer bands around a small central crystal or foreign particle. The banding of an agate is seldom straight, but folds randomly in a wide variety of colors and grains depending on the trace elements in the stone. Agate has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale and can be found world wide.
History: Agate was discovered by the Greek philosopher Theophrastus, along the shore line of the Achates River in Sicily, where it gets its name. This river has historically been a major source of colorful agates and other chalcedonies. Due to its hardness and ability to take a high polish, ancients used this stone to make a variety of carvings, knives, beads, cameos, and other types of decorative jewelry. It was found and used in Egypt and in stone age France before 3000 BC.