Desire a Gem of a Surface Material? Luxury Agate's a Dazzler

When I was a child, there was not anything sexier and more particular than a geode. Bear in mind those round stones, boring on the outside, but if you cracked them open, an eye-popping centre of glistening crystals and swirls of colours shone through? Who would have thought, staring at the miniature, artful world encased by lava stone, that somebody could make an entire wall or kitchen countertop having countless these special insides?

Organic agate is among the most jaw-dropping home materials on the market, with eye-popping colours and arresting patterns which make it sought after by high-end clients who will foot the pricey bill, which is due to the painstaking fabrication process: Take grapefruit-size boulders whose interiors have turned into stunningly vibrant crystals, closely pack them in a steel box, then throw in some crushed-up crystal boulder pieces for infill, pour into concrete and allow it all set. Next use a ring saw to cut the slab into thin sheets, about two centimeters thick, chisel away the unsightly concrete, then coat the slabs with epoxy resin, then polish the resin on one side to make a smooth surface that’s nearly 99 percent agate. An expert artisan then needs to cut on the slab to fit homeowner’s requirements in a way that allows various pieces to connect visually. All in all, agate surfaces can run around $500 per square foot.

“It’s really for people seeking to put money into an wonderful artisan piece of furniture,” says Luke Gilcrease, who fabricates agate and other semiprecious stone surfaces. “If you are looking at granite instead, do not even contemplate gemstone.”

Hey, we can dream, can’t we?

Interior designer Erica Islas used blue agate for this fireplace wall, which is 9 feet, 3 inches by seven feet.

If you go for a busy pattern similar to this, she notes, it’s ideal to keep the surrounding decoration to a minimum. “You want to work everything around the rock,” Islas says. “It’s loud, with lots of color and movement. You can’t fight with it. You need to make it its own piece of art.”

Considering that the slabs didn’t come from the true width and height of this accent wall, she had the pieces cut and assembled as a “geometric jigsaw puzzle with bronze cut,” she says. She then added a wenge mantel that was floating that was subtle.

Budget for this wall: $75,000 for its agate; $40,000 for fabrication (about $450 per square foot).

Agate: Antolini

Presidio Tile, LLC

One of the most well-known uses Luke Gilcrease sees for agate is kitchen islands. “It’s a way to make an impression in the distance,” he says. Here black granite countertops are pushed aside by the magnificent all-natural agate island.

Though it appears like a 4-inch solid slab, it’s actually multiple surfaces two centimeters thick which are trimmed and fitted together, cut artfully in a way so the stones provide the look of thickness. An expert artisan made them line up correctly, developing a solid and homogeneous-looking item.

The slab is backlit by LED lights, that, until just a couple of years ago, weren’t strong enough to shine through the dense rock. Just about half the stones here are translucent, creating a gorgeous, unique mix of light and texture and depth.

Budget: $30,000 to $40,000

Agate: Majestic Gemstone

MB Jessee

This natural agate wall in a San Francisco living room is striking enough with its profound variations of blue, but …

Applegate Tran Interiors

… when it’s LED backlights are switched on, the wall dazzles with electric yellows.

Agate: Caesarstone Concetto

Venetian Stone Gallery

Backlit agate shines beautifully in baths, too. Here you can see the crushed-up agate aggregate infill between the stones.

Habitat Stone

Semiprecious Gemstone Surfaces

While blue is among the most popular agate choices, the rock comes in almost every color imaginable.

Bruce Johnson & Associates Interior Design

The agates are available in various sizes, too. The enormous backlit stones here create an elegant leopard-recalling pattern.

Sonali shah

Indian designer Sonali Shah is well-known for playing light. This take of hers on an agate table base resembles a glass-encased fire pit right from the dining room.

A. Keith Powell Interior

Agate is unbelievably durable — it’s near impossible to crack, and it will not stain. Therefore it works perfectly for a shower wall.

The Furniture Guild

Having a professional artisan match each slab surface is very important to create a seamless look.

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