Finding the Agate: Tips for Agate Picking on the North Shore

Tag Along to Look for Minnesota State Gem

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Minnesota is the perfect place to look for the Minnesota State Gem: the Lake Superior Agate.

Agate pickers live for the moments when they find these natural banded rocks. 

“They’re very beautiful.  Very collectible.  Everybody else wants them,” said Agate Hunter, Bob Lynch.

But, timing can be everything when it comes to finding Lake Superior Agates. 

“Some people spend all day down there and some people spend 20 minutes down there,” said Lynch. 

Lynch, of Two Harbors, has a lot of agates in his store “Agate City Rocks and Gifts.”

He took us out to the shore to find the Lake Superior Gem. 

So, how did you find agates?

First, know where to look and what to look for.

“If you know what an agate is you can usually go and pick one up within 5 minutes.”

The best time to look for agates is on a sunny day, early in the morning, or late in the day.

“They are the most eager from spring into summer.”

It’s fun to look on North Shore beaches but sometimes they’re picked over and Lynch says new rocks can wash up after a heavy rain storm.

“Most of them on the shore are water washed a lot so when they dry off they look like ground glass which you can’t see the bands.”

It’s not always obvious what rock is an agate.

“When you get one with a nice translucent shell you can tell it’s an agate.”

Wet it, and look closely for banding and a glossy sheen.

“It’s micro crystalline quarts and it’s a fibrous type micro crystalline.”

Like people, agates come in many forms and colors. 

“The browns, greys and white.  The contrasting white and red, and white or red, and blue.”

You should also bring tools. 

Experienced agate pickers have specialized equipment to help them hunt. 

“A lot of people might take a rock scoop.  It’s a long handle that has a spoon shape at the end of it.”

While they can be purchased at rock and gem shops, it’s much more rewarding to find them on your own.

“Hardly a week goes by that a collector doesn’t have a fabulous agate to show you.”

Think outside the beach. 

Agates can be found anywhere.

“There are always agates out there.”

Tune in Sunday night for Part 2 of our special series, “Treasure Hunting”, where we tag along with a long time record album and sports memorabilia fanatic.

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