The material featured in this edition of The Jeweler’s Eye is Dendritic Agate, commonly known as scenic agate. ‘Dendritic’ is derived from the Greek word for tree-like, an apt descriptor for the botanical images that appear on the cut surface of the stone. It is actually chalcedony quartz distinguished by organic tree-or fern-like markings. These ‘dendrites’ often create little scenes in tones ranging from dark brown to muted orange. The cutting of these stones is an art which takes a lapidary’s highly skilled hand to determine the perfect cuts necessary to bring the charming scenes to light.
My attraction to dendritic agates is due to their remarkable resemblance to 19th century American works of art. Each time I see one of these charming little scenes, I am reminded of a Hudson River painting. These scenes make lovely, romantic broaches and pendants.