Named by the State Legislature in 1966, the South Dakota state gemstone is the Fairburn Agate, a semiprecious stone first discovered near Fairburn, South Dakota. The stone is found primarily in an area extending from Orella, Nebraska to Farmingdale, South Dakota. It is used in jewelry and is a favorite of rock collectors.
The perception of beauty varies from person to person, and from culture to culture. Beauty in a mineral may mean color, luster , transparency, or brilliancy resulting from skillful cutting and polishing. The South Dakota Fairburn Agate is one of these beauties. It 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 noted for their strikingly contrasted, thin bands of wonderful natural colors and that the color patterns are generally yellowish-brown with narrow opaque white bands, or dark red with white bands. However, another beautiful combination shows salmon-pink bands alternating with white bands. Other colors included in these Fairburn Agates are black, yellow, grayish-blue and milky-pink.
New South Dakota legislation now states that no more than one square meter of land may be disturbed by people collecting for their own enjoyment. In general, permission must be received before any samples are collected from privately owned land, and no collecting is allowed on state or federal lands. Even small samples collected along South Dakota's roads and highways can only be picked up after permission has been granted from the nearest Regional Department of Transportation (DOT) office. The DOT's concern is that rock removal may hasten erosion and road cut instability. Permission must be granted from tribal authorities before collecting begins on Indian lands.