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Dragon Vein Agate loss of color?


Hello! I am so happy to have found this site! I am new to jewelry
making and I have a question that I cannot find an answer to on the
internet. I have set a lovely piece of agate, one that has been
called “dragon vein” or “dragon skin” or even “fire agate.” It has,
or I should say HAD, a lovely white fissuring in the blue material
where it looked cracked. I thought it looked like the outlines of a
cloud and so I set the piece in a silver bezel that I stamped “every
cloud has a silver lining.” However, not even a week later, all of
the fissures have disappeared and there is nothing left but blue. (I
have before and after pictures if anyone wants to see). What could
have happened? It felt a bit oily, and I had to keep rubbing it to
remove a greasy film. Could something have leaked out from a
treatment of some sort? Did I press to hard on it when I set the
bezel? Did I leave it too long in the sun? It was on my bench for
only a few days. Any suggestions? I am very confused! I have several
of these stones and don’t want the same thing to happen again, but
if they are that delicate, how can I work and sell them?

Thank you so much! Kat

I have set a lovely piece of agate, one that has been called
"dragon vein" or "dragon skin" or even "fire agate." It has, or I
should say HAD, a lovely white fissuring in the blue material where
it looked cracked. 

I can’t tell you exactly what happened to cause your stone to change
but I can say that the only thing “natural” about this material is
that it is chalcedony. The “crackled” effect is probably due to some
sort of heating and quenching process followed by bleaching, and most
of its various colors are the the result of dyeing.

The current (Winter) issue of Gems & Gemology from GIA presents a
brief study of this stuff, which is all over Tucson and the auction
sites under the names “Crab Fire Agate,” “Fire Dragon Veins Agate,”
“Crackle Fire Agate,” etc., even “Natural Fire Agate.”

As the G & G researchers say: “…we recently learned this material
is being represented as fire agate – a brown chalcedony that
displays multicolored iridescence and commands a higher price than
other chalcedonies. The beads we examined bear no resemblance to fire
agate, and it is misleading to refer to them as such.”

As a cutter and seller of genuine natural fire agate I have been
concerned and angered by the misrepresentation of this highly treated
and low value material.

Rick Martin


I have never heard of Dragon Vein or Dragon Skin agate. The only
references I found searching the net were for beads. This seems to
be a stone unique to the imported stone bead industry. From the
pictures I’ve seen it looks like they took and already fractured
stone and stabilized it an added some sort of colorant or a
brecciated stone and dyed it where the only the softer stone that
healed the fractures took the dye. Stabilizing is a process where a
soft or fractured stone is infused with plastic so that the stone
will hold together and take a polish. They dyeing I’m referring to is
known as “color shot” in the Turquoise biz

In other words Dragon Vein or Dragon Skin agate is another mystery
stone made into beads and cabochons that comes in whatever color you
want to dye it. The imported bead industry is full of these types of
stones from dyed Howlite and Magnesite to compositions made from
stabilized sand and colorants.

So it looks like whatever colorant was used on the stone faded.
Perhaps it is light sensitive and faded in sunlight.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan