No, agates are not rare.
They are beautiful, interesting, varied, and some colors/varieties are sought after.
But they are not rare.
Read on, and we’ll explain.
While agates are frequently found in North America, they can also be found around the world (which means agates aren’t worth very much unless they are extraordinarily unique in color, shape, or size).
Though the amount and kind varies, agates have been found in Spain, Brazil, Germany, Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Italy, Turkey, China, Thailand, and more.
They appear frequently throughout historical records, far back to Ancient Greece.
While they are frequently formed within volcanic rocks (and thus found in the vicinity of volcanic activity), they can also be formed in pockets of rock away from volcanos.
They can most often found in exposed gravel, in areas where water is used to be, sometimes even in the middle of a desert area.
We find them most often on the banks of creeks and rivers, as well as on the beach at the high tide line and on exposed gravel bars.
Another popular place to look for agates is in any area where the earth has been turned or dug up, especially in the digging out of foundations or roadways.
Here’s the thing about the beautiful agate.
The base material/substance of the agate is silicon dioxide.
The same is true for many members of the quartz family, such as onyx, carnelian, and jasper.
Petrified wood is often composed primarily of silicon dioxide as well.
People find beautiful stones around the world composed of silicon dioxide, and have a choice of what to call it.
In the Pacific Northwest of the US, people think of an “agate” as a clear, opaque, or yellowish stone.
Usually these specimens are the size of a fist or much smaller.
However, crazy lace agate, which is chalcedony full of bands of white, brown, black, yellow, red, and gray, looks very little like the agates folks in the NW know.
Moss agate is an agate with tons of manganese and iron oxides.
Lake Superior agates are colored red (in bands) by iron.
In some cases, “quartz” and “agate” could be used interchangeably for a material, depending on who is looking at it.
An “agate” might also look a lot like banded onyx (or many colors), petrified wood, or other versions of the silicon dioxide family.
Some other types of agate include: dendritic agate, Botswana agate, fairburn agate, fortification agate, sagenite agate, condor agate, polyhedroid agate, enhydro agate, iris agate, sardonyx, plume agate, shadow agate, tube agate, geode agate, fire agate, blue agate, and many more.
It can be really confusing to try and identify a really pretty stone.
Basically, it seems like if a good looking stone is composed in some fashion with silicon dioxide, it could also probably be called some kind of agate.
While agates in general are not rare, a “pseudomorph agate” is definitely more rare.
A pseudomorph is created when one mineral takes the place of another mineral, while still keeping the external formation of the original stone.
They are seen less in agates, but more often in calcite or aragonite.
This is not to be confused with an epimorph, which is a mineral shape formed by the environment.
A geode is a mineral covered with an external material, and is an example of an epimorph.
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