Botswana Agate Nodules - Spectacular!
This image shows a 5-pound bag of Botswana agate nodules, dumped into a colander and sprayed with water to add a little luster and reveal their full color. Click on the image for a larger view. Wow! Look at those bands!
Banded Botswana Agate Nodules
(Tumbling or Cabbing Rough)
Size: mostly 1 to 2 inch pieces
We were surprised to get these! Beautiful stream-tumbled agate nodules from the country of Botswana in southern Africa. They are spectacular, colorful, pre-shaped by the stream and ready for your rock tumbler. They are hard, translucent, banded agates that accept a very bright polish. Some of this material is full nodules. Some is partial nodules that have been rounded and smoothed by stream tumbling.
We like these nodules because most of them contain concentric-banded agate in contrasting colors. When polished you will find thin translucent bands in brown, cream, reddish brown, pink, white, gray and other colors. Some people call this material "gray agate" but that name is a total understatement. Tumbling will reveal interesting "eyes" lurking below the rind of a few of these nodules. A few might have solid crystal quartz centers.
We sell these nodules in five-pound bags. You might find pieces as small as 1/2 inch, but most of the weight will be nodules that range in size from about 1 inch up to about 2 inches. There are an estimated 10 to 15 agates per pound depending upon their size and shape. Some agates are whole, some agates are portions, some have a window exposing the beauty of their colorful inner banding. The photo above is from a representative bag.
Some of these agates are so nice that people who cut cabochons might pick ones with premium color and pattern to slice and cab. The cabs will be nice enough to mount in a ring, brooch, pendant or other piece of jewelry.
Slicing the nodules into "rounds" on a small rock saw will produce wonderful disks with colorful concentric bands. These can easily be tumble-polished and used in a variety of jewelry and craft projects. Thickly sliced they can be used as a pendant or a game piece. Thinly sliced they can be used to make a pin, a pair of cuff links, or a pair of earrings.
Rotary Tumbler Suggestions:
As stream-tumbled nodules and portions, most of these agates already have a smooth shape. So, you will not need to tumble them for three or four weeks to develop a nice ovoid shape. However, these agates are very hard and material will remove slowly.
For Step 1 in a rotary tumbler we fill our barrel about 2/3 full with a mixture of nodules and small ceramic media. We add enough media to fill the voids between the nodules. We then add two tablespoons of silicon carbide grit per pound of agate and enough water to completely cover the stones. Then tumble two weeks or a little longer.
Two weeks in coarse grit should completely remove the stream-abraded surface from all of the nodules. However, a few will still contain the small thumb-print indentations that are typical of most types of agate nodules.
For each of Step 2, Step 3 and Step 4 we tumble for one week, using two tablespoons of medium grit per pound of rock (Step 2), two tablespoons of fine per pound of rock (Step 3) and two tablespoons of TXP aluminum oxide polish per pound of rock (Step 4). That should produce some awesome polished agates!
Vibratory Tumbler Suggestions:
In a vibratory tumbler we start by running these in medium grit and at least 1/3 media until we are happy with their smoothness and shape. Use the amount of grit recommended in your tumbler's instructions or about 1/2 tablespoon per pound of material in the tumbler bowl. Then run two days in fine grit followed by two days in TXP aluminum oxide polish - which we use for all of our rotary and vibratory tumbling. In all vibratory tumbling steps we add enough water to make a thin mud, checking once or twice per day and adding more water if needed.
#61 Rapid Polish is an aluminum oxide polish with a smaller particle size than TXP. It is designed specifically for vibratory rock tumbling and often produces a brighter polish than TXP. We include it with our vibratory grit kits because lots of our customers want it. It performs best on dense, fracture-free rough like these nodules, and this rough would be a good one to try it on if you have never used it.
Tumbled Stones That You Will Be Proud Of:
We think that you will really like the tumbled stones that you make with these nodules. Their hard agate easily polishes to a very bright luster. We don't think you will have any problems polishing them. But you might have problems with people trying to beg them from you.
Finished Botswana Agate Tumbled Stones:
If you don't want to tumble this Botswana agate yourself, we usually have medium size (5/8" to 1") tumbled stones of this material for sale by the pound. You can find them here.
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