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A Guide to Scottish Stones

A Guide to Scottish Stones from County Argyle

Scottish silversmiths of old mastered the art of both forming the precious metal and marrying it with exquisite stones from across Caledonia. If you’ve ever browsed our selection of antique kilt pins, you may have noticed a few particular colors among the collections. These reds, greens, purples, and yellows each represent a native stone that these artisans would have favored. When shopping for Victorian and Edwardian era antiques, knowing your Scottish gemstones ensures you know both the rarity and the expense of what you might come across.

In this first of two parts, let’s look at the most common semi-precious stones used in Scottish jewelry. While they may not have the flash and shine of traditional gemstones, these treasures each represent the best in Caledonian accessories.

Scottish Red Agate

Scottish Agate

Sourced mainly from Ayr, Ardownie, and Burn-Anne in Scotland, agate (translucent or semitransparent) and jasper (opaque) consist of bands of a hard variety of chalcedony (quartz). Jewelers prize Scottish agate, in particular, due to the vivid colors and distinct bands found in native stones. Most Victorian-era kilt pins and bracelets featured four specific colors: red, green, white, and blue (almost a pale lilac). This combination appears in a variety of patterns across the 19th century.

While ancient Celts wore these colorful stones for luck and protection, their appeal still endures. Today, you can still collect excellent rough specimens on beaches and pastures on Scotland’s eastern coast.

Scottish Bullseye Agate

Bullseye Agate

Some of the best agate layers a dark blue base with vivid white stripes. When cut correctly by a master lapidarist, the stones sport a vibrant circular pattern know as bullseye agate. Jewelers paired matching pieces into drop earrings, graduated bead necklaces, and heavy bracelets. Due to their relative rarity, bullseye agate accessories command considerably higher prices than other agate styles.

Scottish Moss Agate

Moss Agate

While not as common as the red and green varieties of chalcedony, moss agates possess an individual beauty unlike any other. A number of included minerals give the translucent white agate a layered pattern in greens, browns, yellows, or blacks. The name certainly fits as the impurities create moss like patterns throughout the stone. And like opals, moss agates are certain to be one-of-a-kind stones.

Scottish Bloodstone

Bloodstone

Like bullseye agate, bloodstone is a specific type of chalcedony in dark green with tiny flecks of vivid red. The levels of chlorite in the stone results in specific shades of green, while iron oxide forms the blood-like red specks. Highly polished bloodstones appear in all types of jewelry, but it was favored for signet rings, watch fobs, and other accessories intended for Victorian men.

Next month, we’ll look at amethysts, citrines, ametrines, smoky quartz, and Cairngorm quartz — the official stone of Scotland, Cairngorm quartz.

Want to see all of these varieties in person? Check out our calendar and find us at a Highland Games near you. If you don’t feel like leaving the house, you can browse our online gallery for easy shopping.

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