Cat's Eye Apatite Gemstone Information
Cat's Eye Apatite - History and Introduction
Cat's eye apatite is a variety of apatite, which exhibits a rare optical trait known as 'chatoyancy'. Chatoyancy is a natural phenomenon known to occur in only a handful of different gem types, which includes chrysoberyl, the most well-known variety of cat's eye gems. The optical effect of chatoyancy exhibits a unique reflection of light that closely resembles the slit-eye of a cat when it is viewed under certain lighting conditions. The cat's eye effect is highly desirable and is the result of parallel fibers or needle-like inclusions formed within the stone. Cat's eye apatite is best viewed under direct lighting; as the stone is rotated, a cat's eye reflection will appear to glide across the surface of the stone, very similar to the star-like, (asterism) effect seen in a variety of gems, such as star sapphire and star ruby (among others).
Apatite is actually a group of phosphate minerals, composed of calcium phosphate, which is the same material that makes up the teeth and bones of humans and animals. Apatite is the primary source for phosphorus, an essential chemical used in bioenergetics and photosynthesis. It is also widely used for the production of fertilizers, explosives, fireworks, pesticides, toothpaste, detergents and pharmaceutical products. Although apatite is actually abundant in mineral form, it rarely occurs in transparent, gemstone-quality material. Owing to its extreme rarity, apatite is one of the 'lesser-known' gemstones and primarily classified as a collector's stone.
Identifying Cat's Eye Apatite Back to Top
Apatite is the defining mineral for 5 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness. In most cases, apatite can be easily identified by its distinct level of gemstone hardness and durability. Cat's eye apatite is distinguished from other apatite varieties by its chatoyancy. Typically, cat's eye apatite is less transparent, and more translucent than regular varieties of apatite. The presence of parallel, needle-like inclusions will also be quite evident, and can be easily seen from the surface of the stone. Apatite can also be identified through testing for fluorescence. Cat's eye apatite is rarely found in large sizes, unlike quartz, beryl and tourmaline, which are often found in large sizes.
Cat's Eye Apatite Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
Cat's eye apatite is an extreme rarity, but it can be found in a number of origins, including Algeria, Austria, Burma (Myanmar), Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Germany, India, Israel, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Tunisia and the USA.
Buying Cat's Eye Apatite and Determining Cat's Eye Apatite Gemstone Value Back to Top
Cat's Eye Apatite Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Cat's Eye Apatite: Varieties or Similar Gemstones: Back to Top
Cat's eye apatite is a rare and unique, chatoyant variety of apatite. Apatite in general is one the lesser-known gem types, making 'cat's eye apatite' virtually unheard of. There are a number of other minerals and gemstones that can be easily confused with apatite, such as beryl, tourmaline, sphene and topaz. Most varieties of apatite are simply trade names used to reference color or regional locality, which are typically used only by gem traders and collectors.
There are also other gem varieties that can occur with chatoyancy, including cat's eye chrysoberyl, quartz, tourmaline, sillimanite and aquamarine. In many cases, because apatite can occur in a wide variety of colors, it can be easily confused with other cat's eye gemstones.
Cat's Eye Apatite Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top
Apatite is one of the least-known gems, so it has very little fame, myth and legend. Apatite is not an official birthstone for any month, but in the scheme of astrology and planetary energy, it is related to the zodiacal stone of Gemini. Owing to the fact apatite is actually part of our composition, cat's eye apatite is believed to have many physical healing abilities. Physically, it is thought to help heal and strengthen our teeth, bones and cartilage. Apatite is also believed to boost our calcium absorption levels. Cat's eye apatite is said to alleviate pain and suffering caused by arthritis or other joint-related health problems, such as gout. In addition, apatite is used to help ease hunger pangs and decrease 'appetite'.
Cat's eye apatite is a stone of learning. It is also believed to be a stone of inspiration. It is associated with the element of fire and it is extremely helpful when trying to overcome fears. Cat's eye apatite has the metaphysical ability to help turn thought into action. It is associated with the solar plexus chakra, but owing to its range of color occurrences, it can actually benefit and balance all of the chakras. Apatite has the power to encourage extroversion and draw out negative forces, while stimulating creativity. Overall, cat's eye apatite is very powerful and quite popular for those who believe in the metaphysical powers of gems.
Cat's Eye Apatite Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Apatite is fairly soft and lacks durability, rendering it unsuitable for most types of jewelry. However, it can be worn with care, but its use in jewelry should be limited to earrings, pendants or brooches. Cat's eye apatite cabochons are most popularly used for matching earrings. If wearing cat's eye apatite in a gemstone cabochon ring, it is best to wear it only occasionally and have it set using protective-style settings, such as a bezel or channel-style mounting. Apatite is typically faceted only for display, but the recent availability of apatite gemstones with bright neon colors has increased the popularity of apatite jewelry. Despite its growing popularity, cat's eye apatite will rarely be found in local jewelry stores, which means buying from online gemstone dealers is typically the only way to acquire apatite gemstones.
Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamond by weight in comparison.
Apatite Gemstone and Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top
Apatite is rather soft, rating only 5 on the Mohs scale, so it can be easily scratched by other materials. It also has a very brittle tenacity, and it is sensitive to abrasives, chemicals and heat. When cleaning your gemstones, avoid using ultrasonic cleaners and steamers. It is best to simply wipe down your cat's eye apatite gemstones using a soft cloth and warm, soapy water. Be sure to rinse the stones well to remove any excess soapy residue.
Always remove jewelry prior to performing household chores, exercising or playing any harsh sports. When storing gems and jewelry, always store them separately and away from other types of gems. It is always best to wrap your gemstones individually using a soft cloth and place them inside a fabric-lined box.
- First Published: September-19-2006
- Last Updated: May-16-2014
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