About Dendritic Agate
Dendritic agate is a whitish-gray or colorless chalcedony with tree- or fern-like markings known as dendrites. The varietal name agate is used for this gem even though it does not exhibit the banding that is typical of agate.
The dendrites in dendritic agate are iron or manganese inclusions and are usually brown or black in color. Though they appear organic due to their fern-like structure, they are actually inorganic; they are traces of iron or manganese from neighboring rock that crystallize after seeping through fine surface fractures in the agate.
Dendritic agate can be tricky to cut because the dendritic inclusions occur at various depths in the rough stone. The lapidary needs to cut the material to expose the most interesting patterns.
The famous Russian jeweler Carl Faberge, who was commissioned by the Russian Imperial Court from 1885 to 1916, used dendritic agate along with diamond and other precious stones for many of his pieces. Dendritic agate is prized in Russia as a stone of longevity, good health and prosperity.
Like other types of chalcedony, 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. Since chalcedony has no cleavage it is quite durable and can be used for a wide variety of jewelry designs.
Due to its dendritic inclusions, dendritic agate bears some similarities to moss opal. However, dendritic agate is not referred to as 'moss agate'. In fact, there is another gemstone called moss agate, which has inclusions of green hornblende in moss-like patterns.
Dendritic agate deposits are found in Brazil, India, Madagascar, the USA, Mexico and Kazakhstan.
Dendritic agate is believed to facilitate communication with nature. It is associated with the protection of the earth, rain, prosperity, abundance, healing, restoration and creativity. It said to improve self-esteem and emotional balance.
- First Published: July-05-2008
- Last Updated: August-17-2017
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