A distinctly banded fibrous chalcedony. Originally reported from Dirillo river (Achates river), Acate, Ragusa Province, Sicily, Italy.
The banding in agate is based on periodic changes in the translucency of the agate substance. Layers appear darker when they are more translucent (this may appear reversed in transmitted light). This effect may be accompanied and amplified by changes in the color of neighboring layers, due to other co-precipitated minerals. In old agates that have been subject to weathering and chemical alteration the differences in translucency may disappear, such specimens may turn almost opaque.
Agate is made of fibrous length-fast chalcedony, sometimes with layers of quartzine (length-slow chalcedony) fibers (Michel-Lévy and Munier-Chalmas 1892; Correns and Nagelschmidt, 1933; Bernauer 1927; Braitsch 1957; Frondel, 1978; Flörke et al. 1991; Graetsch 1994). In thin slices of agate, the fibers are sometimes visible in transmitted light and may cause interesting optical effects (see Iris Agate). Because the individual crystallites in the fibers are not tightly interlocked, agate is slightly porous (e.g., Monroe, 1964), and can be dyed easily.