This week we look at one of the most popular gemstones that is recognised throughout the world and is truly one of nature’s greatest gifts – the magical Tiger Eye! It’s loved for its optical cat eye effect and its gorgeous stripey colours. It has become a staple stone of most jewellery makers over the past few decades.
Tiger Eye (or Tiger’s Eye) is a silky stripey stone that is part of the Quartz family. It has a Cat Eye effect known as Chatoyancy which means that you see a horizontal line reflected from the light. The most popular colour is the yellow-brown variety, but you can heat it to produce black or red Tiger Eye. A natural blue variety is quite common, also known as Hawk Eye. Tiger Eye is also excellent for taking on dye and you therefore see brighter reds, pinks, blues, greens, and purples on the market.
Onyx is a massively abundant gemstone found in most parts of the world including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Pakistan, United Kingdom, United States and Yemen.
Onyx comes from the Greek word for ‘claw’. The reason for this is that the Romans first attributed the name Onyx to a type of marble having white and yellow veins (said to resemble a fingernail – yuck!), which is still referred to as Onyx Marble or Italian Onyx. However, they then discovered what we now know Onyx to be and re-attributed the name. The Romans would go onto to use the newly discovered stone for their seals, carving a design in negative relief to produce the raised print. Onyx has been dyed ever-since and has been traditionally used for carving cameo brooches in particular. Interestingly, Onyx is mentioned in the bible several times!
Unlike many other gemstone and minerals, Tiger Eye has no usage outside of crafting and home décor. Top-quality Tiger Eye is often cut into cabochons but also cut into wands, small sculptures, bowls, and other utility objects. Middle to lower grade Tiger Eye is usually processed in rock tumblers to produce tumbled stones. Tiger Eye is also produced into stunning bead of all shapes and sizes. They are cherished for their silky sheen and of course that wonderful optical effect.
Tiger Eye has a degree of Chatoyancy, which is an optical reflectance caused by the parallel intergrowth of Quartz crystals and altered Amphibole fibres within the stone. Derived from the French Oeil de Chat (meaning Cat’s Eye), you can also see the effect in other gemstones such as Pietersite, Hawk Eye and Cat’s Eye Chrysoberyl, as well as in certain woods and carbon fibres. Tiger Eye registers between 6.5 and 7 on the MOHs scale.
Tiger Eye is said to be the stone of courage, power, and protection, bestowing upon one the ability to maintain presence and power in this physical world. It is thought to stimulate one’s psychic abilities and attune one with higher energies, helping one make one’s own decisions from within rather than just reacting to outside influences. It is believed to empower one to be more responsible for oneself.