Challis Plume Agate can be found in central Idaho but it’s not commercially available. So, if you happen to come across material at a gem and mineral show then I’d recommend buying some for your collection. If you’re a lapidary artist and dig for rocks then you’re in luck because you can take a trip to Idaho and dig for your own.
Challis Plume Agate Characteristics
Challis Plume Agates are a variety of Agate you may or may not be familiar with. Their naturally unique look stands out among many. The material contains an incredible array of patterns and colors ranging from seafoam green to dark green feathery plumes that are mixed with yellow Agate. This specific color combination is shared with the Prudent Man Agate, and the banded outer golden flame pattern is incredibly reminiscent of Wyoming’s Lysite Agate.
If that isn’t enough then add in various pockets of Botryoidal Agate with angel wing caps and now you know why people like to collect it.
How To Identify Challis Plume Agate
It’s striking pattern and color scheme makes it easy to identify. The stone, similar to all Agates, has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. Agates typically have a white streak, but this can be a damaging test you might not want to conduct on your beautiful specimen. The best way to identify this type of Agate is to actually spend time with the material by looking at rough nodules, cutting slabs from a piece you purchased, and cutting a cabochon or two to see how it cuts and how it polishes.
Where Is Challis Plume Agate Found?
Challis Plume Agate can be found in central Idaho. If you’re looking for an exact location then its the City of Challis in Idaho.
Is Challis Plume Agate Rare?
Challis Plume Agate can be challenging to find, making it a rare specimen. Any time a gemstone is specific to a locality, it makes it rare because they’re not readily available. Consider how many places one can find Quartz crystals and the many locations they’re found in. The same isn’t true for this Agate variety.
How To Cab Challis Plume Agate
The cabbing process can be a bit tricky with Challis Plume Agate. This is because the material can vary in hardness. The bottom rinds (golden flames) are usually much softer than the top portion of the stone. Meaning you’ll have to use a softer touch when dealing with them.
The angel wing caps can also be brittle to grind. That said, when grinding this Agate variety, you risk losing some of the strands as they break off the piece.
You will want to start by grinding down your shape on a 120-grit steel wheel. Be cautious of those golden flames to avoid undercutting them too much from the rest. Be careful when grinding if you’re designing cabs and utilizing the angel wing tops. You’ll want to do the bare minimum at this stage until you can advance to the 280-grit.
Something lapidaries prefer to do with Agate containing varying hardness and brittle areas is to use a coarse soft resin wheel instead of a steel wheel. Using a 140 grit or a 220 grit works excellently. These wheels grind down more smoothly with fewer vibrations, providing fewer chances to fracture pieces. By using a 140 soft resin diamond wheel, you can remove deep scratches quickly and have less work for yourself in the long run. After this point, the rest of the work should be easier.
Move up to your 280-grit wheel and continue to dry the cab every few minutes, and don’t forget to check for scratches. Once all of the scratches are removed, you can move forward, finishing off your Challise Plume Agate Cab. Sounds easy enough, right?