This review covers the last 250 years of major scientific contributions on the genesis of agates found in basic igneous host rocks. From 1770 to 1955, the genesis question was frequently limited to discussions based on observations on host rock and agate thick sections. Over the next 25 years, experimental investigations examined phase transformations when silica glass and various forms of amorphous silica were heated to high temperatures. This work demonstrated that the change from the amorphous state into chalcedony was likely to be a multi-stage process. The last 40 years has seen modern scientific instrumentation play a key role in identifying the physical and chemical properties of agate. The outcome of this work has allowed limited evidence-based comment on the conditions of agate formation. There is a general consensus that agates in these basic igneous hosts form at <100◦C. However, the silica source and the nature of the initial deposit remain to be proven.