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South Dakota Fairburn Agates

What Is A Fairburn Agate?

Fairburn agates are noted for their strikingly contrasted, thin bands of wonderful natural colors. Agate forms under sedimentary conditions, and consist of alternating layers of fibrous chalcedony with circular to semicircular layers, patterns, or bands like rings of targets. These layers may be composed of different thicknesses and colors. The layers are usually concentric and parallel to the walls of the rock cavity in which they are deposited. Fairburn agates are formed in this way.


When Were Fairburn Agates First Discovered?

Fairburn agates were first discovered in the early 1900’s near the town of Fairburn ( Ken's Minerals founder, Kenneth Spring Sr. was born in Fairburn in 1910) and soon found their way into local area rancher's collections. The Fairburn Agate are the most coveted of all agates due to their colorful banding and rarity. Even though they are now getting scarce, they can still be found as erosion occurs.


Where Are Fairburn Agates Found?

These agates were originally named after a prolific locality 10 miles east of Fairburn, South Dakota, in the southern Black Hills area. The primary area where Fairburn agates are found is in a wide band just outside of the Black Hills to the east and south. Extending from a point east of Rapid City, through the Badlands National Monument, and along the White River and Cheyenne River breaks into NW tip of Nebraska.


Fairburn agates may be collected around the Fairburn area where they are scattered on the ground surface.


What Is The Value Of Agate?

The Fairburn agate was designated as South Dakota's state gemstone on February 11, 1966. The S.D Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) does not keep statistics on the Fairburn agate. In the literature, Fairburn agates are reported as quite scarce, and highly prized by collectors. The price of a Fairburn agate varies. As with other agates, a larger Fairburn agate is not necessarily a better-quality agate.


Where Can You Find Fairburn Agates?

Fairburn agates can be found in areas around Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, and in the Black Hills National Forest. Check local offices for rules and regulations.


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