The history and origins of the agate stone
We’re sure you’ll agree that our agate jewellery pieces are a beautiful part of our wider collection of gemstone jewellery. We use green agate stones to create our refined and classic Oriole Ring and coastal-inspired Oriole Necklace, with the look of this striking stone complementing our use of recycled sterling silver and gold vermeil perfectly.
But what is agate? And how is this breathtakingly simple yet stunning gemstone formed? In this blog post, we explore the history, origins, properties and meaning of the agate stone.
What is agate?
Agate is classed as a semi-precious stone – discover the difference between precious, semi-precious, soft porous and treated gemstones here – and is also a part of the quartz family. Made from chalcedony, agate’s striking vibrancy is applauded by gemstone lovers everywhere. Agate is available in a wide selection of colours, including the green agate variety we use to craft some of our jewellery designs.
Whilst we use a solid colour here at Dainty, the agate stone is actually known and widely admired for its banded pattern as well as its translucent characteristics. Traditionally, agates are made up of more than one colour but are also found in singular shades, as well as the multi-tonal banded style.
How is agate formed?
Agate’s naturally occurring banded beauty is the result of several microcrystalline quartz structures coming together. There’s a particularly complex process behind its formation, with the stone taking up to 50 million years to form! Here Geology explains more about how agate stones are formed:
“Agate generally forms by the deposition of silica from groundwater in the cavities of igneous rocks. The agate deposits in concentric layers around the walls of the cavity, or in horizontal layers building up from the bottom of the cavity. These structures produce the banded patterns that are characteristic of many agates. Some of these cavities are lined with crystals and those are known as geodes.”
Its striking, intricate appearance has made agate popular throughout history, and it has long been used to craft decorative objects and carvings as a result.
Where is agate found?
Agate is found all over the world, with stones mined in Mongolia, Morocco, New Zealand, Canada, Thailand, USA, Germany, Portugal and even right here in the UK to name but a few countries with agate stores.
The type of agate stone and its characteristics varies from country to country. Moss agates for example are sourced from India, Scotland and the northwest of America, whilst lace and fire agates are more commonly found in Mexico.
Is there a special meaning behind the stone?
Like many other gemstones, agate stones have special significance in terms of their metaphysical properties. Agate is thought to bring good luck, balance and confidence. Throughout history, the stone was worn to enhance protection and prosperity. In Feng Shui and folklore, agate is also connected to fertility.
The meaning of agate varies depending on the type of stone. Moss agate connects the wearer with nature, while fire agate aids relaxation for instance.
How should I care for my agate jewellery?
Whilst known for their durability, agate gems should be cleaned gently in mild, soapy water. You should avoid exposure to chemicals (including those found in household cleaning products), excess heat and direct sunlight to minimise the risk of damage and discolouration.
Storing your agate gemstone jewellery away from other pieces is recommended as its hardened surface can cause damage to softer gems. Discover more gemstone jewellery care tips.
Shop our agate jewellery pieces and much more right here at Dainty London.