Photo by Jonny Sek
Agate crystals, famous for their gorgeous bands and variations in color, have been revered for thousands of years. It earned its name from the Achates River in Sicily where it was first discovered with artifacts from the Neolithic era since approximately 3000 BC.
The Agate crystal is amongst the most unique stones known to man. With its distinctive banding and wide range of colors, no two pieces could ever look alike making it the perfect stone to craft into eye-catching jewelry and decor.
Agates are grounding stones that have stabilizing and strengthening influences, bringing balance to one’s life and reducing stress levels. Their healing properties are believed to help with many ailments bringing about balance to the physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It is also said that each Agate color variation has its own unique properties.
There’s so much to learn about this interesting gemstone. Keep reading to discover what colors Agate can form, the interesting use of Agates in various cultures, and the added benefits of subcategories of Agate.
The Ancient History of Agate
Photo by Real444
With the Agate crystals' deep ancient history dating as far back as the 3rd century BC, there are records of its use spanning the globe from Ancient Rome and Persia to ancient Greece and Egypt. Agate can be found amongst the artifacts uncovered from the Neolithic regions, carved into ornaments, beads, and amulets.
The Ancient Romans held Agate to high value for its believed medicinal and talismanic properties. They would grind the stone into a powder, mixing it with water to drink in the belief that the stone could neutralize snake venom.
Another common legend quoted by the Ancient Historian, Pliny, spoke of the Magii teachings in Persia where it was said that grinding and burning Agate could negate storms and ward off other natural disasters.
Often worn by ancient seafarers, Agate amulets were believed to grant the wearer the favor of God protecting them from earthly dangers like hurricanes, lightning, and aggressive ocean waves.
A stone with an abundant ancient history like the Agate crystal can allow us to peer into the ancient civilizations of Earth and reveal many clues to the cultures and people of those times.
The Formation of Agate Gemstones
Photo by NCB Lanora
Agate is classified by its striking formation of Chalcedony layered with crystalline quartz, creating bands of color and translucency. This fascinating ancient gemstone takes over 50 million years to form and does so one layer at a time.
The gemstone forms inside the cavities of igneous or metamorphic rock. When the rock begins to form from cooling lava, gases inside the lava bubble up to solidify into these cavities, creating a perfect environment for microcrystalline quartz to grow.
Microcrystalline quartz is the more scientific name for Chalcedony, as the stone is made up of tiny, microscopic crystals. It is the Chalcedony in Agate that gives the gemstone its wide array of colors - from red to violet.
During the formation of Agate, silica-rich water flows into the rock cavities, leaving silica gel deposited on the walls. Once the water evaporates, the silica gel crystalizes into quartz and the process repeats over millions of years to form thick masses of Agate within the rock.
The Chalcedony and crystalline quartz take turns forming layers of colorful and translucent bands during this long period of time. The color changes in Chalcedony result from the impurities and minerals in the water.
The Corresponding Healing Properties of Colorful Agate
Photo by Swisshippo
An interesting fact is that different colors of Agate each form its own subcategory. They possess their own metaphysical benefits including promoting inner peace and giving the wearer courage to tackle change and pursue new ideas.
Overall, Agate crystals are said to be great stones for pregnant women to help bring security and boost self-confidence. These stones are also said to encourage lactation and help ward off postpartum depression. However, along with these unique benefits, each color has additional benefits and properties.
With the wide variety of Agate colors, it is hard to choose a favorite. Take a look at a few of the most sought-after and unique Agate subtypes.
Blue Lace Agate
Photo by Miss Niss
With gentle flowing bands of baby blue and fluffy white Chalcedony, it is no surprise that Blue Lace Agate is known for its soothing and calming properties.
This is a great companion for those suffering from anxiety and panic attacks and is said to promote peaceful sleep when placed under one’s pillow.
Photo by Nas Tya81
Precisely fitting its appearance, Moss Agate exhibits dense moss-like inclusions of either mossy green or orange Hornblende in Chalcedony.
This earthy stone is said to bring harmony to one’s life, relieving stress at work and helping organize a chaotic home environment, making this a great companion for working parents!
Photo by Minakryn Ruslan
One of the most expensive Agates, the Fire Agate is a reddish-brown stone with magical yellow, red, and orange flecks of iron oxide or limonite.
These shimmering flecks catch the light and dance below the surface of the Fire Agate gemstone. Said to be a stone of creation, the Fire Agate ignites the desire for change and shifting up old routines.
Photo by Catherine Lynn
Peering through a slice of the beautifully iridescent Iris Agate against the sunlight reveals the mesmerizing rainbow colors as the sun touches each fine chalcedony band.
The colors are revealed only by illumination in a skillfully cut piece. A great stone for manifestation and motivation, the Iris Agate is a great companion for anyone looking to achieve a goal or manifest their dreams.
Interesting Aesthetic Uses
Photo by Tanya Morozz
Both in ancient times and in modern times Agate has been used in interesting ways from fascinating jewelry pieces to ornaments and beads. With a hardness reading of 7 Mohs on the Mohs hardness scale, which is used to measure hardness in crystals and gems, anything created with Agate is generally long-lasting and sturdy.
Photo by PK6289
The Agate ornaments found across history include many animals, human figures, and beads with images carved across their surfaces. These detailed carvings on Agate beads are fascinating, acting as a seal when pressed into clay, revealing the hieroglyphic-like images carved into the piece. The images often include men from those times, animals such as horses, falcon, and deer, and various other symbols and imagery.
In modern times, the most common use for Agate crystals is in jewelry and for decorative use. Cabochons, small polished cuttings of crystal, are taken from Agate pieces to showcase some of the most beautiful parts of the Agate crystal. These cabochons are made into jewelry of all types, including necklaces, rings, earrings, and brooches.
Agate is also commonly cut into thin slices to reveal the cross-section of a large geode of Agate removed from the rock intact. Sometimes these pieces are hollow in the center with quartz crystals along the edge making for an even more appealing slice.
Finally, Agate has also been used in medicine and science to make tools like pestle and mortars, precision pendulums, and knife-edge bearings for laboratory balances.
Bring Agate Gemstones into Your Life
Mahroo “Moon Face” Cuff
ShopatMAP Spring Equinox Collection
With so many fascinating elements to the Agate crystal, it is no wonder that this stone has remained popular for thousands of years. The gorgeous bands of colors never get old or go out of fashion and there is a color for every occasion.
Whether it is to carry a reminder of ancient history with you or to assist you in the pursuit of inner peace and self-confidence, an Agate jewelry piece is a must-have for crystal lovers and jewelry enthusiasts alike.
Get a boost of courage with ShopatMAPs Black Agate “Courage” Mala Necklace handmade by female artisans in the Kathmandu valley with the traditional 108 beads. Each purchase provides sustainable income for the skillful artisans and helps fund education programs for impoverished children in Nepal.
Hold your Agate close and relish in its power and historic beauty.
Written by ShopatMAP