Agate is one of the April stones mascots

Our regular publication under the heading "Stone mascot of the Month" is about the April agate.

Agate is a mineral, a variety of chalcedony (which, in turn, is a variety of quartz) with a layered or banded color distribution. Outwardly, agate differs from other stones in the incredible variety of shades, as well as in pronounced layered pattern. More than 150 different variations of this mineral have been found in nature. This is a fairly hard and dense material with natural luster. The variety of agate shades is incredible.

Agate is a very ancient mineral; the first mention of it dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. Agate products are discovered in Egyptian tombs and ancient burials in England and the Urals. According to various versions, its modern name comes from the Achates River in Sicily (Pliny the Elder's version), or from the Greek "agates", which means "happy".
Agate is a stone mined from volcanic and sedimentary rocks. Its deposits are located all over the world. Decorative stone is mined on many continents, including Africa, South America, Europe and Asia. In Russia, the largest deposits are located in the Urals and Chukotka, as well as in the Moscow region.

There are various beautiful legends about the origin of the mineral. One of these stories tells that the divine bird eagle, symbolizing justice and goodness, died in battle. Falling to the ground, it turned into the eye-shaped stone. Hence, the bird did not die, but gained the second life, continuing to keep order in the world and protect people.

According to another legend popular with the Romans, agate was a fossil as well. Only it was not a bird, but the tears of the god Hades, who controls volcanoes. There are many similar legends. Sure enough, they influenced the popularity of the mineral in jewelry. One can hear how agate is called the Eye of the Creator. In ancient times, it was customary to place agate processed in the shape of an eye in the eye sockets of statues. This was done for the stone to ward off evil spirits. Various nations have beliefs and traditions that connect this mineral with newborns. For example, in India, it was believed that this stone helps to calm the baby and teach him find feet earlier. In Georgia, a newborn was baptized with white agate bead on his wrist. This protected a child from all ill effects. During the Renaissance in Italy, agate was considered a talisman for craftsmen. It was believed that this mineral reveals talents - singing, eloquence and ability to write poetry.

Agate from old time to the present day has been used for creating to make jewelry. Amazingly beautiful caskets and vessels were carved from agate in old times - its layered color turned products into real works of art. Agate was in high demand as a material for stone carving.
Agate was highly valued by ancient healers and alchemist that considered agate a mineral personifying health and longevity. Today, agate is also implemented in occult rituals as healing stone with magical properties.

In the modern world, agate is a sought-after jewelry raw material. The natural pattern of this variety of quartz makes each product unique, and legends and stories are fascinating and attractive, creating the widest field for any fantasies. There is no other mineral in the world that has such a huge number of variations in color, pattern and brilliance.

New thematic album with the photographs of the agate items presented in the museum Collection exposition is posted in our Photo Gallery.

On the cover: "Bear meets Queen Bee"  jewelry set. Brazil. 2019. Luis Alberto Quispe Aparicio