Relics of mother earth just elemental| Juliana Chen 22 May 2019
"Saving the world via medical research or going off to Gobi Desert to dust off dinosaur eggs is what I thought I might be doing when I was a kid, and I'd love to bring those interests to a show like ER or The West Wing, or a movie like Jurassic Park.
While many of us may not lead high-profile lives as that of American actress Morgan Fairchild, being fascinated by the Gobi Desert is a rather common trait.
Currently, unearthing crystals, including Alashan agate, seems to be an emerging economic activity in this vast and arid space.
Famous for its breath-taking landscape of sand dunes, beautiful mountains and ice fields, tourists are also drawn to the desert for sighting of rare animals and dinosaur fossils.
Among its rich endowment of natural crystals, colorful and natural agate from the "Alashan League," an administrative unit of the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia, has become much sought after lately by Buddhist followers and gem collectors alike.
First mined at the western tip of Inner Mongolia, this type of agate is indicative of the diverse and yet harmonious scenery of the locality.
Formed about 80 million to 100 million years ago from volcanic lava, the crystals are generally of round or oval shapes, which make them eminently suitable for stringing into prayer beads and religious bracelets.
Furthermore, its rugged appearance as a result of the long process of natural erosion by wind and sand catches the eyes of fashion designers looking for ethnic accessories.
The color range, which matches that of the rainbow, complements casual attire and sportswear.
Alashan agate's exposure to the elements for hundreds of thousands of years has earned it the reputation of "relics of Mother Earth."
Pundits consider the gem's absorption of the rays of the sun and energy of the moon creates strong protection for the wearer against evil influences.
As an auspicious talisman, Alashan agate is also noted for its ethereal property of being a wealth magnet.
The trace elements within the stone have also been highlighted by crystal healers as conducive to good health.
While bracelets strung from crystals of around 10 millimeters are sold for about a HK$1,000 each, large-size sculptures carved from natural Alashan agate are reportedly appreciating in value.
As it becomes widely known in China and overseas, collectors begin to appraise the artefacts according to uniqueness, rarity and aesthetic impact.
Retired senior civil servant Juliana Chen is a passionate crystal collector who shares the good things in life