This book has been written for the lapidary and mineral collector, as well as the scientifically-orientated members of the general public.
The first chapters describes the occurrence of the mineral in over 30 world-wide agate regions and introduces the reader to the scientific techniques that have allowed the characterisation of agate. Techniques used include optical and electron microscopy, spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction, high temperature and cathodoluminescence. Although all agates appear to show more or less the same general morphology and development, important regional differences have been identified.
Later chapters cover procedures used to investigate agates from Cumbria, England and the 3480 million year old Pilbara Craton, Western Australia. In both of these regions, the agate banding has been partially destroyed by post-deposition heating giving the agates very distinctive properties. The origin of agate has been discussed for over 300 years and there is an in-depth discussion on the state of present day knowledge regarding this enigmatic question of agate genesis.