How to Hunt and Collect Agates

By eHow Hobbies, Games & Toys Editor

Hunting agates can be an afternoon's activity, a hobby or a profession. Types of hunters are collectors who are obsessed with acquiring the beautiful rocks, kids searching streambeds for a bright-colored stone and jewelry makers looking for unusual gemstones for their creations. Whatever your interest may be, there are some tips for hunting for and collecting agates.

Strap on a comfortable pair of shoes and comfortable clothes; you'll be doing a lot of walking, stooping and bending. Depending on your location, you can probably ask around for good spots for agate rock hunting or simply go to a local stream or the ocean if you are lucky enough to be near one.

Know what you're looking for. An agate is a translucent stone, usually with "banding", or rings, of different colors, which ring the stone. If it's sliced off sideways the bands are in layers, with a striped look. Common agates can come in colors ranging from yellow and gray, to red and orange, but there are some gorgeous black, blue and purple agates from various places in the world.

Recognize the outside of an agate. The beautifully-colored interior is hidden beneath a rough, lumpy exterior in various shades of grey, tan or brown. They're normally less than three inches in diameter, although there are rare agates exceeding this size. In fact, some collectors have found agates that are actually two feet wide.

Polish the agates. Use a rotary tumbler, the most common type of polisher. It takes approximately four weeks to polish each batch of agates. The agates, water and coarse grit are tumbled for about one week. The agates are washed and sent through the same process again with medium grit, and then sent through with a polishing agent for two weeks. Wash the agates thoroughly with soapy water and behold a beautiful finished product.

Decide what you would like to do with your agates. You may enjoy just having the gemstones adorning your home or you may want to sell them. Check the classified ads in the paper or surf the Internet for buyers. Some people make beautiful jewelry from these stones and others collect them to place on display.