Gemstones

Meaning, Beauty, and Properties of Agate Gemstones

 

With its combination of earthiness and elegance, agate is one of the most unusual gemstones. There are many varieties of agate, including blue lace agate, moss agate, tree agate, and petrified wood. No gemstone is more creatively striped by nature, with its concentric layers formed by the layering of microscopic quartz in bands with various colors and appearances. The stone is the most favored and varied part of the chalcedony quartz family.

Black Agate Twisted Hoop Earrings in 14kt Yellow Gold. #922745

According to Greek lore, agate was discovered in the river Achates—now called the Drillo River—located in Sicily. There is evidence that Stone Age men used agate more than 15,000 years ago for weapons and tools. Legend has it that agate guarded the wearer against dangers and endowed the wearer with a bold heart. It was used on armor to help warriors be victorious in battle.

For centuries, the agate's healing properties, spiritual value, and distinctive beauty have held its popularity. Now found worldwide, each type of agate has a name and spiritual meaning based on its geographic location. Some believe specific colors help the owner achieve personal goals like running faster, balancing emotions, or harmonizing energies. The mystics believe in the gemstone because agates are stable crystals, and they're considered grounding stones with powerful connections to the energies of Mother Earth. The metaphysical quality of the agate comes from the fact that they capture your senses. Feel the cool polished agate, and admire its sparkle in the light reflecting from tiny quartz particles.

 

Types of Agate Gemstones

With a wide selection of agate stones available, you'll find an agate suitable for you. Designers can turn the quartz into a piece of elegant and sophisticated jewelry.

  • Moss agates are white with touches of green, suggesting moss.
  • Dendritic agates are gray or white with dark inclusions that represent trees.
  • Fire agates stem from volcanic explosions millions of years ago. They have an iridescence quality in light.
  • Blue lace agates represent lace with swirls and loops. Like the fire agates, these gems are rare and highly sought after.
  • Crazy lace agates show circular flows and brightly colored, ornate patterns.
  • Botswana agates come in different shades of gray and pink stripes. Less common are gemstones with soft brown and apricot tones.
  • Grape agates are purple amethysts, but they also belong to the quartz family.

Another gemstone sometimes mistaken for an agate is the opal. These two gemstones compliment each other when worn together as jewelry.

 

Agate Shapes, Materials, and Ornaments

Adding an agate gemstone to your jewelry collection means understanding the distinct qualities to look for in the jewel, such as color, cut, clarity, and carat.

Color is a personal preference. Featured in rings, pendants, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces, agates come in a wide selection of natural colors. Most appear with translucent stripes and layers of two, three, or more colors, including blue, lilac, red, yellow, pink, gray, white, and black. With the porous nature of the stones, some designers may die agate to enhance the color. When considering an agate, it's essential to understand the variety you own, the size, and the color you desire.

Agates come in many forms and shapes, such as square, emerald, pear, and round. When an expert cuts the agate flawlessly, it accentuates the natural bands of the piece. The designer also cuts the rock to suit the type of jewelry it will be part of to enhance the color and appearance. Wear matching earrings and necklaces cut from the same quartz for a cohesive, glam look.

Clarity is an essential element in choosing an agate. Finding a crystal-clear agate without noticeable inclusions is priceless. Look over your piece, making sure the stone is clean without cracks or scratches. Like the dendritic and moss agate types, some samples are more valuable with unique inclusions, making each distinct and highly coveted.

Most agates for jewelry are between 2 to 4 carats—sold by weight. Anything more significant is suitable for designing ornamental items. Some are large enough to slice into stunning furniture like table tops, platters, and art pieces.

 

Agates as Jewelry

An elegant and stylish stone, the agate shows up in fashion while acknowledging its healing powers. As an eye-catching gem, a necklace adds style to your overall look—formal or casual wear. Some are chunky, allowing you to make a statement, while others are minimal as a delicate pendant on a chain. Agate bead bracelets add brilliance to your look, and they come in several colors. Earrings and rings are suitable for day or evening wear. Whether they're vintage or modern, agate rings are ideal for women and men. You can make a bold, fashionable statement with confidence. The natural, antique look of the stone offers designers many options for the vintage look.

 

FAQs About Agates

How do I care for my agate?

Agate is a heavy stone with a MOHS rating of 6.5 to 7 for hardness. That means material over this rating can damage or scratch agate. Store the gem in cloth, like a pouch, away from sunlight to prevent discoloration. Clean agates with mild soap and water, and avoid the use of ultrasonic cleaners and chemicals.

What is the meaning of agate?

Like most gemstones, agates have a long history, including a reference in the Bible as one of 12 gemstones designed on Aaron's breastplate and a mention in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, "In shape no bigger than an agate stone. On the forefinger of an alderman..."

During ancient times, people called them amulets or talismans for protection. The belief is that agate builds self-confidence, clarity to the mind, and strength during difficulties, helping you relax and refocus during stressful times. Agate can help you go through change. Wear this gemstone when you move, start a new relationship or job. It instills many strengths, particularly security, and safety.

Where can I find an agate?

Many jewelry stores have ranges of agate jewelry. Almost every continent has naturally occurring agates. Agate mines are in Nepal, Russia, Africa, India, Germany, Italy, the USA, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil. The largest agate ever found was 110 pounds, the size of a young adult, in Lake Superior, Minnesota.

People who collect agates keep them in their natural state as ornaments. You can find these rocks in gravel pits, dirt roads, and some wash up on beaches. Other individuals cut or break them open to see the bands inside the stone. If you like them pretty and shiny, try running them through a rock tumbler.