About 10 years ago, a large forest fire swept through the western Black Hills of South Dakota just to the west of Jewel Cave. The fire destroyed much of the organic matter on the soil surface and exposed nodules of agate exposed at the surface in areas that were previously unknown to agate collectors. The exposures are small and very limited quantities of Hills Agates have been found.
The Fairburn Agates found beyond the Black Hills in badlands and grassland areas almost certainly formed in the Black Hills. The wide variety of patterns and colors present in the Fairburn Agates reflect the many original agate sources that were present in the Black Hills. Roger Clark, in his book Fairburn Agate--Gem of South Dakota, offers a persuasive argument for the correlation between the Hills and Fairburn Agates. That book is must-read for anyone that is interested in agates.
The quality of the Hills Agate is variable, as weathering and frost action have often created fractures within the agate pattern. Many of the fractures appear to have been sealed by subsequent filling. Working with and around these issues is a challenge to the lapidary.
The Agate Works is one of the few sources cutting cabochons from the Hills Agate. Each stone is unique and the patterns and colors vary widely due to the variability of each outcrop.
PO Box 10634
Green Bay, WI 54307-0634