What makes agate unique in comparison to other types of chalcedony is that it’s translucent, banded and even showcases a wide variety of colors. These colors are due to the traces of oxides, such as chromium, nickel, iron and titanium, to name a few. If you were ever to see an agate, you may be wondering how expensive or valuable a piece may be, simply based on the beauty it beholds. It’s very unique in comparison to many other gemstones; however, it may not be as expensive as you think.
Most agates are very inexpensive, only retailing for maybe $1 to $20 at most, however, some types can yield a much higher price tag. We’re talking hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. The range be confusing, sure, but as long as you know the pricing factors involved, it can give you a better idea as to what an agate is truly worth.
Whether you want to collect a piece, say, an agate slab or you want to know what your agate stone is worth, let’s explore what an agate typically is worth. As there are so many variables, this guide should hopefully provide you with some guidance.
The Pricing Factors
First, let’s talk about the pricing factors and how they can affect the cost of agate.
Mainly, the value of agate will be based on a few factors, which include:
- location where it was mined
- color pattern
- natural vs dyed
The many types
Let’s talk about the many types of agates, as there are a few to keep in mind.
The most popular type of agate is banded since these are found all over the world, mainly in Brazil. Many of these banded agates are bright in color and have many colored layers, all varying in beauty. Based on the factors mentioned prior, banded agates generally go for $10 to $100+.
Another popular type are your tumbled agates, which are usually smaller in size, about an inch or so. Popular types of tumbled agates may include sardonyx, blue lace, tree agate, etc. Usually, this size will only set you back $2 to $15 or so in a retail store, either online or in person.
Next, moss agates will have “mossy” inclusions of mineral oxides that give it a mossy-like pattern. Two popular names include dendritic agates, which form branching-like patterns, whereas feather-like patterns will be known as plume agates. Commonly, moss agates are found as smaller slabs, towers, spheres and tumbled stones. These types of moss agates are very inexpensive, costing maybe $1 to $40~ at most. Jewelry, however, can be much more, starting at $20~ and greatly increasing from there.
Fire agates are bright and vibrant, typically red and orange in color. It’s a rarer type of agate, most commonly found in volcanic areas, such as Mexico, and it’s the “fire” effect that draws collectors to it. Mostly, fire agate is used for jewelry, and you won’t find it as a slab or as a home decor piece. Highly depending on the quality, a small 20 mm tumbled piece can cost a few dollars, whereas an AAA gem quality piece can easily cost $80+ per karat. It’s not unheard of to see fire agate pieces well into the $500 to $1,500 range.
Another type of agate, lace, is a delicate stone that is also banded in a way, however, it swirls moreso than a banded agate. Lace agate is mainly found in Mexico and is known for its patterns that resemble that of lace. A piece of raw blue lace agate can cost a few dollars, maybe $10 to $15 at most, whereas thicker slabs can cost about $15 to $30+, depending on the size and quality.
Every type of agate, as you can see, can affect the price, but again, other factors are in play. Let’s continue.
Next, let’s talk about color patterns.
Agates can display a wide variety of color patterns. In fact, almost any color you can think of can be seen in a natural agate, such as blue, green, and red, to name a few. As mentioned quickly in the intro, the colors an agate displays will greatly depend on the traces of oxides within while the stone was developing. Oxides that affect the colors can include chromium, nickel, manganese, iron as well as others; however, these tend to be the most popular.
This is where personal preference can come into the picture.
If you have what seems like a rarer agate slab color wise, you may be able to fetch a higher price tag only if someone is willing to pay the price. This can be said about anything, right? Keep in mind that you may see similar agates on two different sites, charging two different prices. This is all subjective, as it’s, again, all based on demand and personal preference. This is the case with most stones.
A higher quality, rarer color mix, mined from a prominent mine will be much more expensive than, say, a dyed agate stone that weighs no more than a few ounces that you picked up at a local souvenir store.
As with most gems, the weight can greatly affect the price, but let’s explain the difference here.
If we’re talking rough agate, be prepared to be in the $x per pound/kilogram range, but if we’re talking high-quality jewelry/polished pieces, then the price will be based on the carats rather than the weight.
The clearer an agate is, the more it can be in price. So, if you’re able to hold an agate up to the light and you can see directly through it, then it’s considered to be a better quality. A clear quality stone will have no black spots or any inclusions for that matter. Keep in mind that this doesn’t apply to agates that already have inclusions such as moss and dendritic agates.
Dyed vs. Natural
Unfortunately, people will dye agates to enhance their beauty, and unbeknownst to many, they believe these dyed agates are real when in reality, they aren’t.
It’s not too uncommon to spot dyes or fake glass that resembles that of agate, but you should still keep an eye out Generally, your neon-rich colors, such as blue and greens are often dyed. You will want to pay close attention to the bands within the agate to see if the band colors “run.” If they appear runny, then there’s a good chance it’s dyed.
Typically, your dyed agates will never be worth much. In fact, they don’t cost much at all; however, some people find no problem in buying dyed agates as they are solely buying based on the beauty they see.
Lastly, let’s talk about the rarity. If it’s a type that’s not as common as the rest, then it can be much higher in price. The rarity is mainly due to where it’s mined. For example, a fire agate mined from a defunct mine would cost much more than a tumble agate stone fresh off a boat from Brazil.
In the end, there are so many factors involved, so it’s hard to give a definite answer. Hopefully, this guide can provide some guidance as to how much the agate you’re thinking of is worth. Your results will vary.
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