If you’ve been exploring the healing properties of crystals and gemstones, agate has likely popped up on your radar. This eye-catching crystal is a must-have for any collection, but did you know that there are several different varieties of agate, each with their own unique metaphysical qualities?
In this guide, you'll learn about the different types of agate and how ancient civilizations across the globe used this precious stone in their lives. You’ll also discover how you can follow in their footsteps and take advantage of this timeless stone’s beneficial energies.
What Is Agate?
Agate is a variety of chalcedony, which is a microcrystalline type of quartz crystal, similar to clear quartz and rose quartz. During antiquity, the ancient Achates River in Sicily was a rich source of agate gemstones and inspired its name. When it comes to the hardness of this mineral, agate ranks at a seven on the Mohs scale with a specific gravity of 2.6-2.7.
Natural agate forms when deposits of silica fill cavities in volcanic rocks. Each ribbon and band of color, along with its shape and pattern, is distinctive. While agate can form on the outer layers of a geode, agate crystals form as an agate nodule. Instead of outwardly appearing as a beautiful agate stone, the nodule needs to be cut and polished to a high luster before it looks like the crystal most people recognize.
There are several varieties of agate, and depending on the agate deposit’s location, it can have regional characteristics in banding or coloring.
Some examples of different types of agate include:
- Botswana Agate: Botswana agate gemstones are formed in Botswana and develop with white, purple, or peach banding.
- Crazy Lace Agate: Crazy lace agate crystals feature swirling, colorful banding.
- Eye Agate: This type of agate stone forms with concentric and uniform banding, giving the appearance of an eye rather than the usual parallel lines.
- Fortification Agate: Fortification agate features a pattern where all bands of color connect, and much like the name, resembles the walls you might have protecting a castle or town.
- Plume Agate: Plume agate crystals are unique in that they have neither typical banding or swirls, but rather bursts of colors similar to the shape of feathers.
- Sardonyx: Sardonyx is a variety of agate with red parallel banding that alternates with white or black swaths of color.
Where to Find Agate Gemstones
Unless you’re looking for a specific variety, agate deposits are widespread around the world and the United States.
According to Athena Perrakis’ book, “Crystal: Lore, Legends & Myths,” you can find agate in Africa, India, and the Middle East. In Europe, one of the oldest mines was located in Idar-Oberstein, Germany, and produced beautiful stones until it was exhausted. Today, you can find agate deposits in the Kaczawskie Mountains in Poland.
Several mineral deposits are also located in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. Some of the most famous agate deposits are located in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
If you’re looking for agate stones from the United States, beautiful pieces can be found in Arizona, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Oregon, where you should keep your eyes open for “Thunder Egg” agates. These egg-shaped stones may look unassuming from the outside but reveal stunning agate centers inside.
Agate in History and Folklore
Ancient civilizations throughout history have treasured crystals for their healing properties and beauty, and agate gemstones are no exception.
The Greek philosopher Theophrastus first wrote about the beauty and value of agate gemstones in his work "On Stones" thousands of years ago.
Ancient Greeks so treasured agate that it was even found in tombs. Archaeologists discovered the remains of a Mycenaean warrior dating back to around 1450 BCE, along with drinkware, armor, and weapons.
Along with these priceless finds, they also identified 50 gemstone and gold seals. One of the most famous is known as the Pylos Combat Agate. Despite being only an inch and a half in size, it depicts a warrior slaying enemies on the battlefield.
Archaeologists still aren't sure how the Greeks managed to carve an extraordinarily detailed image onto such a small gemstone, but they do believe it was likely worn on a bracelet. When you look closely at the Pylos Combat Agate, it appears as though the warrior is wearing the very stone. Perhaps he felt it would bring him luck and protection in the heat of battle.
Agate’s metaphysical properties vary depending on the specific type. While they share similar characteristics, some types of agate stones have a stronger connection to particular chakras. You may discover the healing properties of agate can help you with everything from feeling more grounded and confident to communicating more effectively in your relationships and at work. Here are some different types of agate to use in your life.
Blue Lace Agate
In Robert Simmons and Naisha Ahsian’s “The Book of Stones: Who They Are & What They Teach,” blue lace agate is credited with nourishing the throat chakra. Its peaceful shades of blue and beautiful banding are calming and centering.
Maybe you struggle with expressing yourself clearly, or the thought of standing up for yourself in a disagreement or conflict makes you want to jump out of your skin. If so, working with blue lace agate could assist you in feeling more confident in communicating with people in your life, no matter the situation. It could be something as simple as being more comfortable sharing an idea in a meeting or leading a workshop on a favorite hobby in your spare time.
Keeping a blue agate night light in your home is an easy way to reap the benefits of the gemstone’s soothing properties.
Perhaps you’re looking for something to encourage a more focused and even-tempered state of mind. If this sounds like you, working with moss agate could be just what you need. What’s more, moss agate is nurturing to both your root and heart chakras.
Simmons and Ahsian note that moss agate can help a person become more patient, feel calm, and experience greater emotional stability. Whenever things feel hectic and frazzled, grab a polished piece of moss agate and hold it in your hand while taking a few grounding breaths. Carving out a few minutes for yourself can work wonders in keeping you more centered, and moss agate is the perfect complement.
Fire agate's range of colors makes it especially healing and supportive of your root, sacral, and solar plexus chakras. As such, this natural wonder assists in clearing blockages from these areas.
When you’re not feeling grounded or lack confidence and motivation, reach for a fire agate pendant or cabochon to channel the healing properties of this iridescent stone. As its name suggests, this breathtaking gem has flashes of red, orange, yellow, green, gold, and brown.
Fire agate’s shimmering luster almost gives it a glow, like the flickering embers of a fire. Let it remind you that no matter how drained or unmotivated you may feel, with the right support you can rekindle your inner flame and find the strength to show up for yourself.
Consider combining your fire agate with carnelian or black agate if you’re looking for a healthy dose of grounding and protective energies for your lower chakras.
While not technically genuine agate because it doesn’t have the characteristic banding patterns, dendritic agate is nonetheless a special stone. Dendritic means having a branched form or resembling a tree. Most dendritic agate gemstones are white or light grey, have a tree-like pattern, and have energetic properties beneficial to your entire chakra system.
When times are challenging, dendritic agate helps you maintain a more cheerful and positive attitude rather than slipping into a negative mindset. It’s also a terrific stone to use in meditation, where it can help connect you to your intuition and receive guidance on how best to move through complicated or confusing situations. Use this gemstone as a sort of compass to find your way when you aren’t sure which direction to go or how to maintain a sunny disposition.
Agate is just one of many gifts from the ancient past. This gemstone is a perfect way to begin tapping into the metaphysical properties of crystals or expand your collection with beautiful and unique pieces.
Whether you’re interested in adorning your home with the healing energies of an agate night light or looking for a way to take your confidence to the next level and keep a clear mind, agate gemstones can help.
Let your intuition guide you in finding the perfect agate gemstone. Be ready to see how this humble stone can help you feel more balanced and enjoy a sense of groundedness like never before.