Tiger Eye Stone vs Agate: What Are They, And What’s The Difference?

 Tiger eye stone and agate are two gemstones that can often be confused by their appearance.

However, these two different stones have very specific differences that can help to tell them apart. 

Tiger Eye Stone vs Agate: Explained

What is Tiger Eye? 

Tiger eye, also known as tiger’s eye, is a metamorphic rock in the quartz group.

It is a highly popular gemstone and, in the past, it was thought to be able to ward away evil. 

Tiger eye stones display chatoyancy when polished and moved back and forth under a light source.

This ‘cat’s eye’ effect is caused by the chatoyant crossing at right angles over the parallel silica fibers that comprise the stone.

These fibers started off as the mineral crocidolite, but become replaced by silica during the metamorphic process. 

Tiger eye stones have a hardness rating of 6.5 to 7.0 on the Mohs hardness scale, and their luster is noted as being silky. 

Often presenting an amber or brown coloration, these stones can almost appear to exhibit a pattern similar to wood grain. 

The most common sources of tiger eye stones come from Australia, Burma, South Africa, India, Namibia, and the United States.

However, it is also found in numerous other countries as well. 

What is Agate? 

Agate is one of the most common rock formations, and it usually forms within volcanic and metamorphic rocks.

A translucent variety of microcrystalline quartz, agate is typically formed one of two ways.

It can be formed by groundwater infiltrating cavities of rock over time, causing deposits of various compounds to build up to create the usual layered appearance found in agates.

It can also be found in crevices caused by gas that created pockets within liquid volcanic material.

These pockets, when hardened, form cavities where additional volcanic material can build up over time, similar to how the groundwater creates layers. 

Some of these cavities can also be lined with crystals which can create geodes.

These impressive formations are often used to create a variety of decorative pieces for display and collection. 

Agate is abundant and it is estimated that thousands of different types of agate exist across the world.

These variations are often named after their formation type or their location, sometimes both.

Because of this, agate can take many forms and appearances, though commonalities tie them all together.

Agate can be found in many different colors, and due to the porous nature of the material, it can also be dyed with relative ease.

In nature, agate can be found in shades of brown, yellow, black, grey, red, pink, and white.

Banded agates are often confused with onyx.

Although thanks to synthetic dyes, almost any color can be achieved, making these stones highly versatile and impressive to look at.  

Similar to tiger eye stones, agate has a hardness rating of between 6.5 and 7.0.

However, unlike tiger eye stones, they have a waxy luster as opposed to a silky luster.

Agate stones will also produce a white streak if rubbed against a hard surface. 

In past centuries, the agate industry was prevalent in the Idar-Oberstien district of Germany.

Although after 1900, production there waned, and the largest producers today include Brazil and Uruguay. 

However, agate is also commonly found in many states, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. 

Tiger Eye Stone and Agate: Differences

When it comes to telling these two stones apart, one thing you can look at is their appearance. 

Agates will often display very distinct layering in a variety of colors.

The crazy lace agate can also display circular bands which resemble lacy patterns.

Tiger eye stones, while they do show striations and layers, appear very different.

Tiger eye stone layers are often thinner and only appear in shades of brown and amber.

This stone can very much resemble an almost wood grain type patterning, which makes it distinct from any variety of agate. 

Fake Agate

Due to the popularity of agate, it is often faked by some manufacturers and sold to buyers who may not be able to identify the differences.

Fake agate can be made from glass, plastic, or dyed forms of chalcedony or jasper. 

To identify the difference, know that real agate will scratch glass and is harder to scratch, even with a knife tip.

It will also be more weighty than a fake due to its higher density. 

While natural agate can be dyed, unusually bright colors coupled with scratches, bubbles, or a dull luster can all be a giveaway that the stone is not natural agate. 

Similarly, real agate is translucent, meaning you should easily be able to see light through the body of the stone. 

The Uses of Tiger Eye and Agate

Tiger eye stones and agate have been used by people for centuries, both for aesthetic and metaphysical purposes. 

Tiger Eye Properties and Uses

As a gemstone, tiger eye has been used commonly in jewelry and in men’s rings and cufflinks.

It can also be found in many bracelets, often alongside agate. 

Today and in the past, tiger eye has been used to ward against evil and dispel fear and anxiety.

This makes it popular for use in pendants that people can wear on a daily basis. 

Agate Properties and Uses

Agate is a stone that has been in use for thousands of years, and there is even archeological evidence of it having been used at the Knossos site in Crete by the Bronze Age Minoans.

Other known ornamental use is dated back to ancient Rome and Greece, where agate is known to have been used for jewelry and in the seal stones of Greek warriors. 

Today, agate is still used widely in jewelry and also in the creation of decorative pieces such as bookends.

In the metaphysical sphere, people associate agate with promoting pleasant dreams, attracting good fortune, and eliminating bad luck. 

While the metaphysical properties of these stones aren’t scientifically proven, these beliefs still prevail in many circles and bear mentioning. 

Two Popular Gemstones

Tiger eye and agate remain as two of the most popular gemstones today, both for decorative and collective purposes.

While they can sometimes be confused, by learning the unique properties of both, you can more readily begin to identify them.