Agates from China
The „new“ agates from china are not so new anymore now. About 7 years ago they were first introduced to western agate collectors. And shortly after that was also when I dared to travel to China for the first time. My sister Milena was teaching at a University in china at that time and helped me to not get lost for the week I was there.
The agate producing area is quite large, with probably hundreds of little spots where people were digging. The biggest differences are made between areas that are known as Middle Class Mine, Traditional Mine and High Class Mine. All deposits can produce very high quality agates, but do have different characteristics. While Middle Class Mine agates usually have pretty thick bands, and sometimes remind of argentinean „Condor“ agates, the agates from the other deposits tend to have finer banding. The colour red is dominant in agates found in the Traditional Mine area, while a bright yellow can be an indicator for the High Class Mine agates.
The High Class Mine agates come from the hardest host rock in the area, so they often have bits of the hostrock still attached, while the agates from Traditional Mine pop out usually quite easily. Agates from the High Class Mine sometimes show the feature of waterlevel banding, which can not be found at any other of the deposits.
Even though Chinese agates can be counted to the most colourful agates in the whole world, it has become significantly more difficult to get high quality agates from China.
The Chinese government already closed down the whole mining area over three years ago. That means currently no new agates are found in the area, and it is doubtful they will open up again, as trees have been planted inside the quarries.
The picture is from my last trip to China two years ago.
The prices for high quality agates in China have already risen shortly after the closing, and it is a matter of time that high quality pieces will be rising in prices for the western market, too.
In the High times of agate mining near Xuanhua, north-west of Beijing, around 10,000 people have worked in the agate business in that area. They were either involved directly with the mining, or also the process of making carvings and jewelry, which was the main market these agates have been sold to in China. Good quality agate jewelry made of local products could sell for extremely high prices.
The agates I am offering in the shop now are from the times when the quarries were still open, and most of the pieces I have never been offering before. Nowadays with the current situation I would probably not be able to get this kind of quality together anymore.
Here is a link to all chinese agates I currently have: