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Agate can be found almost anywhere on Earth, but is it a valuable rock? Though finding an expensive rock is not always the main motivation of a rockhound, it is important to know whether the agate you found or want to buy has any value and if it does – what does it depend on? Do all types of agate have some value or do certain agates have characteristics that make them better than the rest?
Most agates are cheap ($1 – $10), but some can be very expensive ($100 – $3000) depending on their type, colors, and the location where they were found. Tumbled agate is automatically more expensive than raw agate and those with very vibrant colors, fine bands or are found in one place only also cost more.
But it’s important to keep in mind that agate prices are subjective and similar agates may have completely different prices on two different websites, depending on the personal preferences of the seller and what they think it is worth. Furthermore, landscape agates are one of the most expensive types of agate even though they are not “real” agates. This goes to show that appearance and opinion play a larger role in its cost than the type of rock.
How much money is an agate worth?
The majority of average-quality, standard agates are relatively cheap and their price is actually based more on the labor costs and appearance rather than the material, which is often sold by weight.
Usually, the most expensive agates by type are landscape agate and fire agate but crazy lace agate, Lake Superior agate, and agate geodes can be quite expensive.
Nowadays, you can buy a pound of rough agate for just a couple of dollars (if it isn’t a special/rare type). A small 1-2 inch tumbled agate (snakeskin agate, sardonyx, blue lace agate, tree agate, Botswana agate, etc.) will cost approximately $2- $10.
A high-quality Mexican fire agate of the same size may cost over $50 and even reach prices of $1000.
An above-average quality landscape agate (dendritic agate) or moss agate can cost anywhere from $20 to over $200, depending on how appealing the landscape is.
Dendritic and moss agate are actually not real agates since they don’t have bands of color, but they are still sold as agates.
BTW: Do you want to know more about rocks and minerals identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- The Crystal Bible
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
What makes agate valuable?
As I mentioned above, the price of agate is determined by several factors. The most crucial factors are as follows:
The prices of both rough and tumbled agate depend on its weight. On many sites, you’ll see the weight (written in carats, if it’s not rough agate) next to every agate that they’re selling.
For rough agates the weight and price connection is linear – let’s say 1 pound costs $10, 2 pounds will cost $20, and so on.
But when it comes to high-quality tumbled/polished agates then the weight can increase the price exponentially – so if a 15 carat rare stone costs $50, a 25 carat stone of the same quality might cost $400.
If an agate is clear (e.g. you hold it up to the light and you don’t see black spots or other inclusions) then it’s considered to be of higher quality.
However, this doesn’t apply to dendritic, plume, or moss agates. When it comes to these stones, the inclusions inside them are the source of their beauty – and therefore their price. Without these inclusions, they wouldn’t have landscapes/interesting patterns.
One of the main features of a real agate is its band of colors, so having impressive colors (or a combination of them) immediately increases its price.
Grey, pale and dark colors decrease the price, whereas brilliant red, orange, white and blue increase it. The brightness/intensity of the colors is also very important.
A smooth, round rough agate is worth more than one with uneven/sharp/jagged edges. If it’s an agate that’s been cut specifically for use in jewelry, asymmetrical and professional cut add to its value.
If an agate isn’t as common as the rest and it can only be extracted from one location or its supply is relatively limited (e.g. fire agate, or the Laguna agate from Ojo Laguna, Chihuahua, Mexico) then this will increase its cost.
- Overall appearance
Any stone that has interesting bands, patterns, or pictures is automatically valuable and expensive. This feature is often the most decisive one.
TIP: Knowing the value of your agate is definitely nice and sometimes it can be also very profitable. But do you know how agates are formed? Or where are the best rockhounding sites for agates in the United States? Well, I give you an answer in these two articles below:
What is the most expensive agate?
There is no such thing as “the most expensive agate”, though dendritic and fire agates are usually worth more than the rest.
However, a standard blue lace agate that has very fine bands and rich color can easily be more expensive than a fire agate of the same size but of lower quality.
Related questions about Agate’s Value
Are agates precious stones?
Agates are considered semi-precious stones in general, but many people only consider them semi-precious when they are attractive enough (clarity, color, overall quality) to be used in jewelry.
What should I look for when buying an agate?
There are 2 things you should pay attention to – fakes and dyes. Sometimes you might come across a piece of glass that’s being sold as an agate. Though this is not a common occurrence as agates aren’t very expensive anyway, you should be careful and buy from a reputable seller/shop.
Dyes are a completely different topic. Many agates that are found in nature have very dull colors that people would never find attractive. To overcome this problem, agates are often dyed in chemical solutions to enhance their colors. If you see very rich, neon-like greens, reds, or blues then it may very likely be a dyed agate.
Now some people don’t see any problem with this and buy them anyway, but others think that since those aren’t its natural colors, then they aren’t worth buying. In the end, it comes down to personal preference.
TIP: When you have bought or found your own agate, you could be interested on how to polish or tumble your agates. Or even how to cut them. In case you are interested in these topics, check out the related articles with step-by-step guides below: