Moss Agate Meaning and Properties

Moss Agate History

Moss agate, also known as mocha stone, is a gemstone renowned for the greenish filaments that seem to resemble creeping moss or other vegetation. The alternative name comes from the Arabian city of Mocha in Yemen, which was an ancient source for the gemstone. There is some disagreement as to the interchangeability of these gemstone names though. Some argue mocha stone should be reserved for specific moss agate with brown or red coloring.

Moss agate, like most gemstones, has long been used for personal ornamentation. Some ancient cultures viewed moss agate as a healing stone. During the late 18th century, moss agate was widely regarded as a good luck stone in Britain. Due to the inclusions resembling moss or ferns, moss agate was also viewed as a stone of agriculture amongst gardeners and farmers. It's said European farmers once used to hang moss agate from trees and around the horns of oxen when plowing to encourage successful harvests.

Moss Agate Metaphysical Properties

It's no surprise that moss agate's plant-like appearance affects the perceived metaphysical properties of the stone. Moss agate is said to encourage tranquility and emotional balance. Moss agate is the perfect stone for those who experience strong aggression or overly nurturing emotions, helping to balance male and female energies whenever they become too extreme. The calming vibe of moss agate helps bring us closer to nature as well, and can bring a sense of focus or patience when we need to disconnect from the chaos of modern society.

Moss agate and mocha stone are also associated with budding friendships. It's suggested to wear this gemstone when meeting new people to draw them in and foster new relationships. This no doubt helps explain why moss agate is associated with the zodiac sign Aquarius, supposedly one of the more social signs that highly values friendship. Moss agate is also associated with the sign of Virgo by bringing these typically analytical minds some much-appreciated calmness.

Moss Agate Geological Properties

Moss agate isn't actually moss or technically an agate, but the intriguing mottled patterns of cream, green-grey and black inclusions do have a moss-like appearance. The beautiful green shades ranging from sea green to dark forest green appear to float in the semitranslucent stone. While moss agate isn't strictly an agate because it's not banded, the stone does have the same chemical composition and intriguing patterns of agate. Moss agate is a variety of chalcedony, belonging to the quartz family, and is often found as fragments from weathered volcanic rock formed in fissures or as pebbles rather than in traditional agate layering.

The spreading moss-like dendritic inclusions you see in moss agate are mostly oxides of manganese or iron, and the colors vary depending on trace amounts of minerals or metals present, such as chrome. Some moss agate on the market can be dyed to improve overall color. Moss agate is chiefly found in India, Brazil, Uruguay, central Europe and the western United States.

Mineral Information Chalcedony, quartz group
Chemical Composition SiO2
Color Clear with mottled, leaf-like inclusions
Hardness 6-1/2 to 7 (Mohs)
Specific Gravity 2.58 - 2.62
Refractive Index 1.54 - 1.55

Proper Care of Moss Agate

Avoid using harsh cleaning treatments such as ultrasonic cleaners and steamers or chemicals for moss agate, especially if the stone has been enhanced in any way. The best method of cleaning moss agate is to use warm soapy water and a soft brush or cloth. Make sure your stones or moss agate jewelry is completely dry before wearing or storing. It is preferable to store moss agate in a velveteen bag, or at least away from softer gemstones that moss agate--with its Mohs hardness of 6-1/2 to 7--could accidently scratch.

To learn more about moss agate and other gemstones, order your copy of Walter Schumann's revised and expanded edition of Gemstones of the World.

Designing with Moss Agate

Moss agate with lots of white background color resembles a beautiful forest with freshly fallen snow while darker green, more fully colored moss agate is reminiscent of lush Pacific Northwest forest floors. Add moss agate to jewelry whenever you want a quiet, interesting pattern with a deep visual connection to nature. Emphasize the white quartz background by pairing moss agate with clear quartz or opaque white stones. Try combining this agate with other gemstones in earth and vegetation hues such as greens, yellows and browns as well as other organic materials--wood and bone--to emphasize its visual connection with nature. Blue-hued gemstones like lapis lazuli pair well with the calming effect of moss agate, creating a tranquil palette while purple tones such as in amethyst create a dramatic complementary color scheme.

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