Agates and Agatines and… Oh, My!

Written by : Posted on January 31, 2016 : No Comments

Golden Witch & Arcane Component Works have added fresh-cut agatines to the mix of options.  We felt you needed some text to explain natural stone stripping guides, versus those that are not, you guessed it, perfectly natural stone.  In fact, some rings are almost entirely unnatural, almost.

Let’s start with the real stuff, unadulterated, truly natural stone. We actually offer a ring variant called “Natural Agate” and it’s the real deal…plain, faintly figured, semi-precious rock harvested from the earth, cut into slabs, slabs carved into rings, rings polished, then bezelled, and finally soldered into frames. Nice. Another group of natural stone we offer is the plain ROY Agate, which is actually carnelian, itself a specific form of cryptocrystalline chalcedony…and chalcedonies are commonly termed “agate” even though agate is actually a sub-variety of chalcedony, not an equivalent term for the entire family of these stones. But, rodmakers and guide makers have been calling carnelian “agate” long before we arrived, so we’re sticking with the name, but giving you a head’s up to the proper term for this mineral. Are you with us?  This paragraph is paraphrasing a whole lot of stuff from a variety of sources. Onyx is also a natural chalcedony. Moss Agate is a chalcedony. The various jaspers are opaque chalcedony…in most cases…in some cases they aren’t. Common names don’t always link up perfectly with the particulars of mineralogy. We also sell White Jade, which is not a chalcedony, but which is natural stone. All this is to say we do sell one heck of a lot of natural stone. We also sell stuff we generically call natural stone because it was dug from the earth and thus it’s not synthetic stone. But then the lapidary folks adulterate it for our aesthetic pleasure. They might heat treat it. They might dye it. When heat treated, natural substances within the mineral structure alter the way they absorb, refract, and reflect light. This gives you, for instance, the vivid reds & oranges & yellows of the Banded ROY we sell. It does not damage the stone…if it did damage the stones in any meaningful way, we wouldn’t be able to bezel these stones and have the same rate of success as we have with non-heat-treated stones. Bezelling is a fairly aggressive process. It would make you cringe. Dying stones, unlike lobsters, do not scream. They take on beautiful, consistent, colors that rodmakers have come to love. The dye fully penetrates the stones…if you care to destroy one with a chisel and hammer, you’ll see the color is evenly distributed through-out the thickness of the ring. And, it’s waterproof, which is a darn good thing for a fishing rod component. Do they fade? Apparently not, or guys would complain. This summer we’ll place some dyed stones on the roof to see what the sun and heat can do to the rings. In the real world of well-cared for tackle that sees daylight when you’re fishing, and is otherwise seeing the inside of a rod tube, we don’t suspect you’ll ever notice a color shift. We’ve been selling dyed stones for well past a decade and nary a complaint. So which are the dyed stones? Blue, Teal, Yellow – these three for sure. Not all stone vendors like to discuss this. For ages, we were under the impression that the blue agate was entirely natural. Shame on us. Anyway, we’ll add more dyed colors because they are eye catching. Then came along the almost unnatural rings. These are the agatines…note the diminutive…baby agates. More like wannabe agates…synthetic agates…they’re fake. But barely, or not quite. Chalcedonies are composed largely of silica crystals. And glass is formed from molten silica. So instead of being cryptocrystalline, it is non-crystalline and amorphous, but it’s still mostly silicon dioxide. And it’s very handsome. And, at this late stage in the history of rodmaking, it’s quite traditional. We wanted it back. We went old school and found glass that was cast. This is vintage-like glass, not flawless 21st century window pane material. It has colorants stirred into the mix…you might witness a swirl, or a shade shift. You might spot tiny bubbles (sing it, we know you want to). Like stone, cast glass is perfect in its imperfection. It approaches the natural in color and structure, and it is made from sand, which is mostly silica, then given new life as these agatine rings. Mary Shelley’s monster, only not so scary. So far we’ve located two shades of this glass. The first, a deep, dark, sacrifice-on-the-alter, is Bull’s Blood. The second one reminds us of the cherries in the orchard, red, but still leaning orange, not fully ripe, but delicious! We called the second color Cherry. Not very creative. But that’s your job. Use these guides to create your next masterpiece of angling craftsmanship.

All told, there are lots of options. We hope you’ll make lots of rods. Fish some. Sell some. Donate some. But make at least one for a kid. Get them on the water, for so many reasons. Thanks!


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