Dendritic Agate Gemstone Information
About Dendritic Agate - History and Introduction
Dendritic agate is a translucent, colorless to whitish-gray variety of chalcedony quartz, easily distinguished by its distinct tree- or fern-like markings known as 'dendrites', which are most often brown to black in color. It is considered to be one of the rarer and more sought-after varieties of agate stone, although it is technically not a 'true agate' since it lacks the typical banding of other agate stones.
'Dendrites', a Greek word for 'tree-like', are inclusions that appear organic due to their plant-like structure, but they are actually inorganic traces of iron or manganese. The iron and manganese ions gain access to the forming stone as weathering solutions from neighboring rock. The impurities crystallize inside the agate in branching formations seeping through fine surface fractures. In some cases, dendritic inclusions may form in spotted clusters rather than branching structures; these are sometimes referred to as 'mosquito stones'.
Identifying Dendritic Agate Back to Top
Dendritic agate has a hardness of 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale, a specific gravity of 2.59 to 2.67 and a refractive index of 1.530 to 1.540. It has no cleavage and can be identified through its silicon dioxide (SiO2) composition and distinctive branching dendritic inclusions. Dendritic agate can appear very similar to moss opal which also occurs with dendritic inclusions, but quartz and opal can be easily distinguished by simple testing for hardness. Moss agate is also frequently confused with dendritic agate, but moss agate inclusions are owed to traces of green hornblende rather than iron and manganese ions.
Dendritic Agate Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
Dendritic agate can be found with all other varieties of chalcedony. The most notable deposits are found in Brazil, China, India, Australia, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Mexico, Mongolia, Namibia, Uruguay and the USA. The dendritic agate mined from India is often referred to as 'Mocha stone', a name credited to its former transport method via the Arabian Harbor of Mocha.
Buying Dendritic Agate and Determining Dendritic Agate Gemstone Value Back to Top
Dendritic Agate Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Dendritic Agate: Other Similar or Related Gemstones: Back to Top
Dendritic agate is one of the many varieties of agate stone available today. Many agate varietal classifications are based on optical properties, while others are based on inclusions, mining localities or geographic origins. Locality based trade names are generally only used by collectors. In many cases, a single agate specimen may even be referred to by two or more different trade names.
Agate is a form of cryptocrystalline quartz. Cryptocrystalline quartz is one of two primary branches of quartz gemstones (macrocrystalline is the other). Both quartz branches share the same chemical composition but form with differing crystal structures. Amethyst, citrine and smoky quartz are a few of the more popular examples of macrocrystalline quartz gemstones.
Dendritic Agate Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top
Agates were used as gemstones by ancient Egyptians over 3,000 years ago, making them one of the oldest gemstones mentioned in recorded history. In Russia, dendritic agate was prized as a stone of prosperity, good health and longevity. It is associated with the protection of the elements and is believed to aid communication with all things in nature.
Dendritic agate encourages healing, restoration and creativity. It is said to improve self-esteem and emotional balance. It is a stone of protection and since biblical times, has been worn and used to protect against storms. It was highly valued as talismans and amulets. Additionally, agate is thought to quench thirst and alleviate fever. Alternative healers will place agate stones on the solar plexus region of those with stomach illnesses.
Dendritic Agate Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Dendritic agate is ideal for just about any type of jewelry design imaginable, from pendants to everyday rings. Agate stone is very durable and resistant to typical daily wear and tear. Owing to its lack of cleavage, it is actually more durable than many of the 'harder' jewelry gemstones. Large sizes are readily available and very affordable, which makes agate stones a favorite for many jewelers.
The availability of free-form dendritic agate gemstones has sparked interest in using dendritic agate for men's jewelry designs, as they provide an interesting tribal look that appeals to the preferences of many gentlemen. In addition to jewelry, many ornamental carvings are made with dendritic agate.
Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamond by weight in comparison.
Dendritic Agate Gemstone and Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top
Dendritic agate can be easily cleaned using warm soapy water and a soft brush. Rinse stones well to remove any soapy residue. Keeping in mind that agate is a variety of quartz and though it possesses the same relatively good level of hardness and durability, there are still many gems capable of scratching dendritic agate, so be sure to not wear anything harder than quartz alongside your dendritic agate stone.
As with most gemstones, avoid the use of any harsh household chemicals when cleaning your dendritic agate. Avoid prolonged exposure to extreme of heat as it may cause permanent damage to the gemstone. Dendritic agate should be stored inside a fabric-lined box or wrapped in a soft cloth. Always store dendritic agate gemstones separately from other gemstones and jewelry.
- First Published: November-29-2013
- Last Updated: May-29-2014
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