Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Close Up Photos of German Agates

All of us who are in the rock business need to thank the Germans.  Although people have been collecting and using agates and other minerals for thousands of years, the Germans were among the first to develop and perfect lapidary practices.

In Germany it began in Idar Oberstein where it is thought that Romans first mined agates and amethyst.  Then around 500 years ago, new deposits of amethyst and agate were found.  This launched the lapidary industry in Germany.  

The lapidary industry developed in this area not only because of the plentiful deposit of precious and semi-precious stones, but the German area also had other required resources such as the river Nahe, which provided water-driven power to drive the cutting and polishing equipment, as well as cheap labor.  Things went well for a few hundred years until the local mineral deposits were mined out.  Thankfully for the German lapidary industry, large agate and amethyst deposits were found in Brazil by German explorers a few decades later.
The German lapidary specialists continued to develop new methods of processing agates throughout the 1800s and early 1900s.  These techniques included the development of methods to dye and heat treat minerals. Lapidary masters produced everything from agate beads to cameos, goblets, pendants, rings, and other items. 

Below are a few close up photos I took with my USB microscope camera of some German agates I acquired from the Neil Snepp collection. 



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