What is Iris Agate

There is a good precedent for the rising interest in various types of agate stone. While doing things like “shining a light” on them brings out a variety of spellbinding effects, it is the seemingly mysterious transformation it makes from a mild-mannered agate stone to a polychromatic super charmer that is their allure.

Iris Agate Meaning

Iris Agate is a banded agate that at first glance would seem like a normal stone when light is not directly shining on the object, but can then bedazzle viewers with a captivating display of colors when light is passed across it, producing beautiful iridescent bands in rainbow colors, a quality only seen in a tiny percentage of agates.

Rainbow Agate

The term “iris” in its name depicts the display of rainbow-like colors, prompting many to also call it by a related moniker, “Rainbow Agate”. The iris effect on this stone is due to its translucent and transparent properties which have fine bands within, allowing light to move in ways that enthrall.

When was this agate stone discovered?

The first specimens of the iris agate stone were found in 1933 by Fred S. Young, who was then the publisher of the Oregon Mineralogist. Since then various expeditions were undertaken to discover more of these stones.

iris agate stones

How is the Rainbow Iris Agate special?

A myriad assembly of bands of almost every conceivable color emanates from iris agate’s unique diffraction pattern that results when an intense natural light hits it.

When light falls on the agate stone, it meets the corners of the small bands. These bands interrupt the flow of light and force it to disperse, taking different paths through the thin bands of the stone. Thus, the bands work as a natural diffraction grating that disperses the light and presents an attractive display of prismatic colors.

How is the light formed?

A distinct point to remember when examining this stone is that you can witness the magic of its spectral wonders and effects best when shining a light through a source where the rays of the light strike the surface of the agate. The iris agate shines especially when this is done at a perpendicular angle.

At this angle, maximum light enters the stone, allowing the viewer to enjoy a kaleidoscope showcase of light that is as much a delight as it is breathtaking.

Properties of Iris Agate

This semi-precious gemstone is not a normal agate simply by its good looks, but also because it is also believed to have physical healing and metaphysical properties, and knowing them enables one to not only appreciate them more but also derive the utmost benefits from them.

Here are some such benefits that are believed this stone provides:

  • It can be used for manifestation. Ideally, with the help of this stone, wish for what you desire most and turn it into reality fulfilled.
  • It will help you relax mentally and spiritually. Alleviate your stress and ameliorate stressful situations with ease through crystal healing when possessing this stone.
  • It will help you take action and combat procrastination. It will make you want to execute more, eschew excuses, and be plainly more productive. 
  • It serves to inspire. Let the stone be your sidekick in overcoming difficulties in life, guiding you through a good course of action, and helping you overcome life’s many obstacles.

Where can you find this stone?

The Iris Agate isn’t normally found at your regular gemstone shops. It is a kind of precious rarity carried only by a few stores. However, a gemstone shop that does sell lookalike gemstones is not uncommon. Going beyond a quick online search as well as joining communities such as you’ll find on social media– like Facebook Groups for agate lovers among many– would be a good start.

Depending on your commitment to finding them, while enjoying the breadth of information available, dig deep into the seeming rabbit holes of information to find novel items and knowledge about the subject, and doing so long before even making phone calls or stepping out to find them.

More specifically, Iris Agate can be found in various locales around the world but is predominantly found in South America such as Patagonia, and the mid and southern areas of the United States, including various parts of California, New Mexico, Idaho, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas

Other ways to use Agates

While their beauty naturally makes them the perfect component of jewelry, there are more ways they are applied than the numerous types of agates in existence.

On the smaller side of things, agates– including Iris Agate stones– are used in:

  • Sculpture. Stunning sculptures that wow folks for their shapely forms, but also dazzle with light
  • Coasters. Its concentric bands lend themselves well to coasters, where they are usually encased in metal or plating, only enhancing their good looks.
  • Healing. From the emotional to the spiritual to the physical.

On the larger side of things where money is not a deal-breaker, agates have found their way into:

  • Furniture. Chairs, tables, side tables; you name it.
  • Home as well as office decor
  • Bookcases. Large and small
  • Stands

In fact, agates are found in industrial use.

  • Bearings for laboratory balances
  • Precision pendulums
  • Mortars and pestles for crushing and mixing chemicals

And many, many more. These scratch the surface of examples for the utilitarian scope of agates, even though more often than not, it is its qualities for a visual spectacle that really gets peoples’ blood pumping.

After all, the soft nature of agates makes them a natural for intricate carving, slicing, shaping, and forming into various items without much difficulty.

Can you use these stones as jewelry?

These stones are not shiny or attractive unless there is a source of light from behind the object and the observer is standing in front of them. As such, it is not optimal as jewelry.

But while you can still find earrings and other types of jewelry made from this stone, having them in their “natural habitat” of being set in place with a light source shining, it more than makes up for its placement demands when it mesmerizes viewers, just as it is known to take peoples’ breaths away.

Other Types of Agate Stone

There are as many permutations of agate stone as the variegated ways they make a beautiful display when capturing transmitted light. While you can find many of these at this site, there are a few examples of these versatile, natural stone specimens that share curious attributes as the iris agate.

Blue Lace Agate

blue lace agate 001
Credit: Mindat.org

Known for its emotional healing properties that bring calming energy to the person wearing it, the Blue Lace agate sone can help you deal with intense feelings to calm the emotions, cool your head, and otherwise neutralize anger, while also believed by many to help in the physical sense– such as accelerate the repair of bones, thyroid deficiencies as well as various infections.

The Blue Lace agate stone not only has such remedial properties but through its soothing colors, also looks the part.

As a variety of quartz typically formed as nodules (or geodes) in igneous rocks, the Blue Lace agate stone has predominantly pale blue banded layers with various versions also having bright blue, white, and brown hues mixed in that go through the stone.

Moss Agate

moss agate 001
Credit: Mindat.org

Looking like fine artwork of shrubbery and moss encapsulated in resin, the moss agate is a kind of chalcedony that display predominantly green and related colors in filament formations comprised of milky or clear compositions of quartz as well as iron or manganese oxides that make it look like moss is growing in the stone. Almost paradoxically, there is absolutely no moss contained in moss agate. But then again, there is no natural rainbow in the rainbow iris agate either, yet both are magnificent shows of varicolored wonders.

Fire Agate

fire agate 001
Credit: Mindat.org

Like the iris agate, the fire agate is more than a normal natural stone beloved by natural stone collectors and has compelling attributes that lend to being known to be a valuable agate, not the least of which is its uncommon look as if fire was captured and enclosed in stone for eons made especially for its owner’s splendor.

And this is not a surprise because it is said that these types of agates have been formed millions of years ago from violent volcanic activity, with water containing minerals filled rock cavities and crevices for millennia so that the repeated washing and flooding over time produced these gorgeous stones.

Found mostly in Mexico and select neighboring ranges of the United States, the fire agate is more scratch-resistant than similar agates, with a banded rainbow effect that is different from the iris agate inasmuch as both are resplendent with their artful flowing bands and natural sculpture.

Crazy Lace Agate

Credit: Mindat.org

Brightly colored with intricate bands of Chalcedony that flow in its own unique patterns emanating from many “centers,” the Crazy Lace Agate is a mineral of the quartz family that contains marbly bands of browns, gold, greys, and creams swirling in stone like the storms of the planet Jupiter.

It is a stone known for bringing happiness and good fortune as much as strength and courage.

Onyx Agate

Credit: BeadNova Black Onyx Agate Beads via Amazon

While many agates like the iris agate have parallel bands of color, the onyx agate has curvy concentric bands of usually dark colors. However, they aren’t all black or white or primary colors, as they are variations in brown, pink, and other colored bands that seem to like deciding to go their own way when cut, effectively giving it a unique personality all its own.

Dendritic Agate

Credit: Mindat.org

Known as the most valuable type of agate, it is known as a Stone of Plenitude because it brings abundance to all areas of life.

Associated with Greek dryads– spirits of trees and woodlands– dendritic agate stones look like milky gems imbued with little trees inside. Farmers of old are said to bury them in their fields to promote a bountiful harvest.

These days, this stone is said to help when one is undergoing extreme moods as well as those undergoing great change, as well as stressful times in their lives, helping its user to balance the scales with the swirling tumult in their difficult situation and emotional strain, even used as a healing amulet that ameliorates childhood pain.

Agate Jewelry

Aside from their inherently artful natural bands and patterns, as well as their almost magical reaction to direct light, agates are versatile and stylish in their own way, while depicting symbolism and evoking various types of meaning for owners, collectors, and the public at large, making them perfect for jewelry that matches beautifully with just about any outfit.

With agate earrings, necklaces, bracelets, cuffs, and rings, there doesn’t appear to be a limit to the multitude of applications where agates can’t impress.

It’s no surprise that famous designers like Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent use agates in their repertoire. Agates are a continual component of the fashion scene, with celebrities and designers constantly charming onlookers with their agate flair.


Like the iris of one’s eye, the visual spectacle that is the Iris Agate is a basket of wonders that contains the positive qualities that make agates compelling. Only with more.

With its beautiful banded patterns, it behaves like a normal stone until its superpowers appear to be unleashed when light is directed its way, showing the world its resplendent glory as a spectacle to behold on its own.

But it doesn’t stop there because it also has a following that believes in its healing powers, both emotional and physical, where blood circulation and spiritual relaxation are but a few in a long line of benefits.

Beloved all the way back, including the time when ancient greeks swear by them, it has a different radiance that its spectral colors– already impressive in their own way– only begin to elevate.

Not to mention the Haute glow it provides to its wearer when shoved in the context of fashion and style. No wonder it also plays a starring role in the couture of celebrities as well as multiple collections.

It doesn’t fail to impress, just as it continues to amuse. But more than that, it is its own unique gem, displaying properties that make it stand out from a crowd and an agate family that already collectively stand above other types of gemstones.