About Agate

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Keep reading to discover more about AGATE.

  • Mineralogy and Geology*
  • Common Associations
  • Metaphysical, Spiritual and Healing** Properties***

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Mineralogy and Geology of Agate

Mineral formula: SiO2

Mineral group: a variety of chalcedony

Crystal system: hexagonal

Crystal habit: The SiO2 in agate is made of fibrous, length-fast chalcedony, not observable by the naked eye. Banding in agate is based on changes in translucency and color. The most common kind of banding is wall-lining banding; it occurs parallel to the wall, at right angles to the crystal growth direction.

Cleavage: none

Fracture: conchoidal to subconchoidal

Color: from colorless, white, grey, pink, red, blue, yellow, purple – almost any color

Luster: waxy, dull; when polished, vitreous

Diaphaneity: transparent

Moh’s scale hardness: 6 ½ to 7

Streak: white

Specific gravity: 2.6

Named after: its type occurrence at the Achates River in southwestern Sicily.  Originally reported from Dirillo river (Achates river), Acate, Ragusa Province, Sicily, Italy.

Type locality: Achates River, Sicily.

Geologic occurrence: Very common. Lining cavities in acidic and intermediate volcanic rocks. Nodules in limestones and other sedimentary rocks.

 

Kinds of Agate

Agate is a translucent form of chalcedony, a type of microcrystalline quartz. Most agate forms in cavities in ancient acidic to intermediate extrusive igneous rocks (lavas). Characteristic forms include agate with concentric color bands, and agate with moss-like or vein-like inclusions (moss agate and dendritic agate).

When agate has a specific name, the name typically refers to its place or origin or a distinctive visual characteristic. Some names are fanciful marketing creations by rock dealers. Roger Pabian's "Agate Lexicon" at UNL is a good reference source of information on types of agate, click HERE to see it.

Some types of agate include:

Bird’s Eye (or Eye) Agate – concentric rings look like eyes

Blue Lace Agate – pale blue finely banded agate often from South Africa

Botswana Agate – from Africa, dark and light banding

Cloud Agate – greyish agate with patches of blurry inclusions

Crazy Lace Agate – agate with multi-colored, twisting and turning bands, often from Mexico.

Dendritic Agate – dark crystallites of manganese or iron form branching plant-like structures within the agate matrix. They are not fossilized plants.

Enhydro Agate – an agate nodule partially filled with water

Fire Agate – not a true agate, this is a type of chalcedony with inclusions of limonite or goethite that produce an iridescent “fire” effect.

Fortification agate – agate with sharp-angled bands that look like an aerial view of an ancient fortress.

Laguna Agate – colorful agate originally described from Ojo Laguna, Mexico.

Lake Superior Agate – perhaps the world’s oldest agate (> 1 billion years) these were spread from the Lake Superior region by glaciation.

Moss Agate – agate with greenish colored inclusions looking like moss. Possibly due to altered hornblende.

Onyx – technically black and white banded agate. The name is incorrectly used by the trade for fine-grained, banded, homogeneous rock, usually calcite, that is easy to carve (“Mexican” onyx) that can be any color.

Orpheus Agate – a relatively new and highly collectible agate find from Bulgaria. Concentric bands, intensely colored with green, golden-tan, brown, white and clear.

Sardonyx – a variety of agate with reddish-brown-orange bands accompanying black and white bands

Youngite – a variety of agate (or jasper if opaque) where the original agate is coated by drusy quartz crystals. Originally described from Guerrnsey, Platte Co., Wyoming. 

Formation of Agate

Agate typically forms in silica-rich rocks, especially volcanic rocks. Silica-rich water percolating through the porous rocks precipitate a layer of microcrystalline quartz on the walls of cavities in the rocks. Over time, continued deposition from aqueous fluids starts to fill the cavity. As the environment changes, the chemistry of the water changes, so the compositions of each layer may be somewhat different resulting in different colors. Agate can form in other rocks types, including limestones and marl, as concretions.       

New Mexico Agate

With its abundance of silicic volcanic rocks, New Mexico hosts lots and lots of agate!  For a visual summary of New Mexico agate locations, click HERE.

Some of the most famous agate in New Mexico is found as geodes, notably Baker Thunger Eggs (aka Geodes) from Luna County, NM.

History of Agate Use

Due to their hardness, translucence, beautify and homogeneity, agates have been valued as a lapidary material since prehistoric times. Agates are often slabbed then cut and polished into smaller cabochons. Larger pieces are slabbed and polished into gorgeous display pieces. The hardness made agate desirable for more functional objects such as bowls or mortars and pestles.

Agate has long been beloved by royalty, as well. In particular, Queen Victoria made Scottish agate a staple in her wardrobe. This fashion choice led to an explosion in the popularity of agate jewelry during her reign.

 

Common Associations for Agate

Color - various

Chakra – depends on the color

Numerology – 7, also depends on the color

Planet - Mercury

Zodiac – Gemini, also depends on the color

Bagua Area - Gen, also depends on the color

Elements - Earth

Birthstone – May (Ayurvedic), September (Mystical)

Wedding Anniversary – 39th

Agate is a variety of chalcedony, so it has all the energetic properties of that mineral. 

Agate is known for its ability to balance yin-yang energies within the body and mind. This soothing and harmonizing effect makes agate a great stone for meditation, to enhance mental clarity, and to eliminate negativity. The color of the agate indicates other energetic properties, most often related to the chakra related to those colors. The energy is gentle so it is an excellent stone to wear next to the body or to have in the house.

Many types of agate have been attributed with specific healing / energetic properties; this list is taken from Melody (1995) Love Is in the Earth:

Blue Agate – such as Ellensburg and Holly (from Oregon) is a stone of spirituality and psychic actualization to facilitate communication in the spiritual plane; assisting with communication and verbalization.

Blue Lace Agate – works with the throat chakra through the crown chakra, providing assistance to access higher vibrational spaces.

Botswana Agate – stimulates the crown chakra, energizing eternal brotherly love. Encourages the energies of creativity, looking for solutions. It promotes attentiveness to detail.

Crazy Lace (or “Mexican”) Agate – enhances physical vitality.

Dendritic Agate – enhances gentleness and enjoyment of each moment; aids in staying centered in times of stress or turmoil; helps one recognize abundance in ones live.

Laguna Agate – enhances flexibility of body and mind; assists with intellectual pursuits, particularly mathematics.

Moss Agate – assists with emotional balancing and strengthening of positive traits, to see the beauty in all; communicate with nature in endeavors such as rain making.

Snakeskin Agate – promotes physical vitality and an appreciation of life and the joy of living. It has a reputation for helping to find lost objects, or to help one become “invisible” in a crowd.

According to Judy Hall, agate offers the power of longevity.

Feng Shui of Agate

Feng shui is the ancient art of affecting the energy of your environment by the placement of architectural and other objects. A good overview can be found HERE. The areas of the house or space are found using a bagua map; click HERE to learn more.

Agates balancing properties make it great for the Health area of the house, located in the middle of the bagua, ie, the center of your home or room.

Agate's association with knowledge makes it useful for the Gen or Knowledge sector of the bagua. To find Gen, stand in the entrance of your home facing in and find the closest corner on the left side. Or use the Gen area of the bedroom where you sleep – stand in the doorway and locate the closest corner on the left.

Place the agate while setting an intention for how it will support that area of your life.

Crystal Gridwork

Agate's crystalline structure is the same as quartz, so it can be used like that in crystal gridwork especially when a softer, gentler, or slower effect is desired. In her book Crystal Gridwork, author Kiera Fogg includes it with quartz, amethyst and citrine as a “seeker” crystal. Seeker crystals help to find and attract the new, they can help point the way to solutions.

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* Mineralogical information is from mindat.org

** Always consult with your medical professional for any physical or long-term healing issues.

*** Metaphysical properties come from 

Love Is in the Earth (1995) Melody, Earth-Love Publishing House, 726 pp.

The Crystal Bible, A Definitive Guide to Crystals (2003) Judy Hall, Walking Stick Press, 399 pp.

Crystal Muse (2017) Heather Askinosie and Timmi Jandro, Hay House, 285 pp.

Crystal Gridwork (2018) Kiera Fogg, Weiser Books, 128 pp.