Agate: Stone of Prudence

Since the distant past, one gemstone is believed to counteract the Evil Eye, and was hence worn to avoid misfortunes that the latter’s malevolent power might bring. This gem goes by the name agate. What exactly is this agate gemstone? What makes an agate stone so strong a talisman as to protect against such misfortunes as stumbling, falling and getting hit by lightning?

Botwana Agate Bracelet
Botswana Agate Bracelet

Agate Properties

Agate is the banded form of chalcedony, and consists of many different colors and varieties, including onyx and sardonyx. Being a quartz mineral, an agate stone is relatively hard, standing at 6.5 to 7 in the Mohs scale of hardness. Usually found in volcanic rocks, most agate stones occur as nodules, with bands warped around an eye or more. When occurring in straight layers, the agate gem is called ribbon agate, while in zigzag formation known as fortification agate.

A slice of agate with thick red bands
Source: Hannes Grobe via Wikimedia Commons

Agate History

Agate got its name from the River Achates (presently called Dirillo) in Sicily, where the gemstone was found in abundance. The agate mineral became a widespread medium for hardstone carving in ancient times, and became an even more popular choice for amulets, which were manufactured in huge quantities in Germany from the 15th to the 19th century.

The importance of an agate stone as talisman lay in the belief that an agate amulet protects its wearer from the Evil Eye, which is said to bring misfortune to the person in sight. To be specific, it is the ring at the center of an agate rock resembling an eye that is said to neutralize or deflect the power of the Evil Eye. Misfortunes thought to be averted by an agate crystal include stumbling, falling, storms, ocean surges, lightning, sorcery, demonic possession, diseases and poison.

Botswana Agate Necklace

Agate Meaning

While Cardano Girolamo points out that he experienced misfortunes while wearing an agate stone, this 16th century astrologer observed that the talisman makes its wearer more prudent in actions, as well temperate, restrained and cautious in personality. The very same traits achieve the purpose of an agate talisman, as they minimize the risk of accidents, mishaps and misfortunes in general.

Indeed, while the stone may not be an absolutely powerful charm against external threats like storms and ocean surges, by making the person prudent and cautious, the agate gemstone protects its wearer from possible misadventures, including stumbling, falling and even getting hit by lightning.

Gemini Charm Necklace: Agate Pendant

Agate As Birthstone

Gemini. Agate is the birthstone for Gemini. Gemini people are articulate folk who are capable of conceiving a plurality of ideas at once, much of which are unavoidably erroneous or confusing, prompting the Gemini person to careless actions and wrong decisions. An agate stone complements the Gemini nature by infusing prudence and caution to the individual, who accordingly exercises more tact and circumspection. Indeed, an agate crystal is believed to inspire the right choice in the zodiac sign that could otherwise make so many. For other birthstones for Gemini, see also Gemini Birthstones.

Capricorn. Agate is also associated with Capricorn. The gemstone is rather representative of the zodiac sign, in the sense that Capricorn people are noted for their diligence, the highest metaphysical property attributed to the agate gemstone. Agate jewelry makes the sense of responsibility innate to the Capricorn person quite consistent and reliable. For other birthstones for Capricorn, see also Capricorn Birthstones.

Libra. Agate is the talismanic stone for Libra, that is to say, Libra talismans were made of agate. See also Libra Birthstones.

Months. Agate is the birthstone of several months, namely May, June and September. The Old Hindu, Hebrew, Italian and Roman calendars assigned agate to the month of May, while the ancient Polish and Russian calendars designated agate as June birthstone. On the other hand, agate is the birthstone for September in the old Tibetan calendar.

Agate pebbles of different colors

Agate Colors

Agate comes in various colors, and consists of different varieties, some more popular than others. Found in sizable geodes, Brazilian agate is famous for its striking layers of white and reddish brown. Botswana agate, on the other hand, sports an elegant interplay of white and gray; whereas, blue lace agate is composed of white and blue stripes. Though some claim onyx to be different from agate, onyx is in fact a black-and-white variety of agate, while sardonyx is red-and-white agate.

Indeed, there are many different types of agate. Needless to say, the colors of the agate gemstone are as multifarious, spanning the colors of the rainbow, from red to yellow, green and blue, as well as black, white, brown and grey.

Lion Agate Bracelet

Agate Jewelry

Who comes with summer to this earth,
And owes to June her hour of birth,
With ring of agate on her hand
Can health, wealth, and long life command.

— Gregorian birthstone poem

Agate is quite a versatile gemstone, and is used whether in fine or fashion jewelry. Being a hard gemstone relatively resistant to wear and tear, an agate stone makes a good pendant for rings, earrings or necklaces. At the same time, the abundant supply of its many varieties makes agate a favorite material for beaded necklaces and bracelets. The agate gemstone is a traditional birthstone for May and June, and hence provides a less expensive alternative for people born in the aforementioned months.

Red Agate Necklace

Agate Value

Though highly treasured in ancient times, agate has come down in value, and is now a relatively affordable semi-precious stone. Still, the price of an agate stone varies widely. A key determinant of price is the pattern found in an agate rock. A unique pattern of banding makes the agate mineral more valuable. Similarly, an agate gem used in fine jewelry is also more expensive. When it comes to fashion jewelry, the design of the beaded necklace or bracelet is crucial in raising the price of the agate gemstone.

Yellow Agate Earring

Do you like agate?

Agate is the banded variety of chalcedony, and was highly valued in ancient times for its ability to ward off misfortune. Do you like agate as a gemstone? Do you like wearing agate in one of your jewelry?

Published July 2, 2014

About the Author

Deomar Pandan is the author of Power Birthstone. He's on the third draft of a high-fantasy novel, Cybelym, and the first of a historical fiction, Gem Faerie. He hopes to release a nonfiction book about diamond soon. Follow him for updates. Or see his jewelry and designs.