Agate is one of the gemstones you won’t really see in jewelry, except for some very colorful and interesting pieces. However there is a kind of agate that does manage to impress by simply existing: the grape agate. This purple agate manages to look like the most impressive cluster of grapes anyone’s ever seem, and it’s really a beauty of nature as it forms with no human help at all.
Today we’re going to explore this beautiful formation, how it came to be, and a few details about it.
What is grape agate ?
Grape agate is the name given to a mineral formation made of quartz microcrystals, that have grown into spheres instead of prisms. It grows in a range of colors (blue, green purple, brown) with purple the predominant color, and it resembles a cluster of grapes. However this is not true agate, as there are no bands like in agate.
A more appropriate name would be botryoidal amethyst. Botryoidal means this crystal will always grow into tiny spheres clusters, and amethyst is the appropriate name for purple quartz. But for the purpose of this post we’ll call it grape agate as well, simply to separate it from amethyst.
Is grape agate natural ?
Yes grape agate is natural and it forms pockets of various stones, especially in volcanic areas. This mineral needs a lot of time to form, and plenty of mineral deposits so it can keep growing.
There is currently no human method of making grape agate, except for acrylic dupes. This agate is very new as it was first found in 2016 and has pretty much marketed itself due to its color and shape.
Read also: Why Does Moonstone Glow ?
Is grape agate dyed ?
Some grape agate may be dyed if it does not look particularly colorful. The whole appeal of this formation is the resemblance to a cluster of grapes, which are traditionally thought of as purple.
This agate has naturally lighter and darker shades of purple, so if you see one that is particularly uniform in color, and rather vivid, it’s likely dyed. A more natural color would be violet with a slight brown hue, and with a few ‘grapes’ that are lighter or darker colored.
Where is grape agate found ?
Grape agate was first found in Indonesia, though it may occur in several places where the is or was volcanic activity. Currently Indonesia is the only extracting country though other places that have (or have had) volcanic activity may have some hidden grape agate formations. Examples include Hawaii islands, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and so on.
Does grape agate fade in sunlight ?
Yes, grape agate may fade in sunlight, so you should take care to keep it away from direct sunlight. Indoor lighting will not affect it. If you have a very large formation you may drape something onto it when the sun would shine on it completely.
However if your grape agate is dyed – some are – the fading color should not be an issue.
Is grape agate expensive ?
Grape agate is very rare, impressive and thus fairly expensive. For example a specimen of 30.7 oz goes for $110, and we imagine a deeper colored version would cost more. That being said you won’t find grape agate used in too much jewelry, as it’s still a rare find.
Part of the reason grape agate is so expensive is because mining it takes manual labor, and the mines are elevated. Workers have to trek through jungle and steep terrain before they can get to the formations.
There is a lot of import and transport fees when handling grape agate, as the only known mine (at this time) is in Indonesia.
What is grape agate used for ?
Grape agate can be used several ways, though jewelry is maybe not its best application because it’s not a very hard stone. If you were to use this in jewelry you’d need to keep it either as a pendant or earrings. Because of its structure and chemical resemblance to amethyst, it’s a softer stone (7 on Mohs hardness scale) so it may fracture or chip.
Another use for grape agate is crystal healing, if that is something you pursue. As a derivate of amethyst, it shares similar properties of connection to your higher self, calming anxiety, and helping you achieve more restful sleep.
And finally, grape agate is beautiful on its own, displayed in a cabinet or used as a centerpiece in a room where there isn’t too much direct sunlight so it would not fade.
Some grape agates that are large are carved into interesting shapes, and a skilled lapidary will be able to separate the grapes from the formation. So you could find and use smaller grape formations, or ask for individual grapes.
I’m the main author for jewelrymaterialguide.com. I started this site after we did tons of research before our wedding and noticed that there is information about rings, jewelry, and so on that is really hard to find on the internet.