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Tiger's Eye Gemstone Information

About Tiger's Eye - History and Introduction

Tiger's eye is a gold-brown, opaque gemstone variety of fibrous quartz. More specifically, it is a variety of macrocrystalline quartz. However, unlike most quartz gemstones, tiger's eye is actually a 'pseudomorph' of quartz. A 'pseudomorph' is what geologists refer to as any mineral that transforms into another mineral. In the case of tiger's eye, it began as crocidolite, but was later transformed into quartz. Crocidolite is one of the several forms of asbestos. It is a fibrous blue mineral and belongs to the riebeckite family of amphibole silicates. The transformation of tiger's eye begins when quartz slowly becomes embedded between the fibers of crocidolite, eventually the quartz completely replaces crocidolite while still retaining the original fibrous shape.

Tiger's eye is famed for its remarkable chatoyancy and its attractive golden brown colors. It is closely related to hawk's eye and pietersite, both of which exhibit similar chatoyancy. Tiger's eye is actually formed from hawk's eye. During the pseudomorph transformation process, materials that contain more iron oxide result in brownish tiger's eye; less oxidation and less iron tends toward the original blue color of crocidolite. Technically, the term pietersite may be used to describe any brecciated tiger's eye or hawk's eye. Brecciated stones are rocks which are composed of materials that have been broken apart, swirled around, and then later reformed and cemented together by quartz or another type of host or matrix material. This results in a more chaotic chatoyancy, rather than the linear chatoyancy of regular hawk's eye and tiger's eye.

Tiger's Eye Gemstone
Tiger's Eye
Click to enlarge
Identifying Tiger's Eye Back to Top

Tiger's eye can be identified by its distinct golden brown color, chatoyancy and its silicon dioxide composition. Like all quartz, it exhibits relatively good hardness and durability (6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale). Tiger's eye can be distinguished from similar hawk's eye by its browner color and lesser iron content. Tiger's eye is actually formed from hawk's eye. As blue crocidolite mineral is replaced by chalcedony quartz, the fibrous crocidolite decomposes and is oxidized by iron. The more it oxidizes, the less blue color remains.

Tiger's Eye; Origin and Sources Back to Top

Tiger's eye can be found in many locations around the world. The two most important sources today include Thailand and the Northern Cape province of South Africa. Other notable deposits and sources include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Korea, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Spain and the USA.

Buying Tiger's Eye and Determining Tiger's Eye Value Back to Top

Tiger's Eye Color

Tiger's eye is normally golden brown to brownish-gold in color. Some materials may contain lower iron content which can result in more bluish colors. Tiger's eye is typically multicolored with brown, black or golden colored stripes and wavy patterns. Its chatoyancy can result in darker or lighter color tones depending on the viewing angle.

Tiger's Eye Clarity and Luster

Tiger's eye is a fibrous and opaque aggregate which exhibits an attractive iridescence. The chatoyancy enhances its silky luster particularly when cut en cabochon. But with tiger's eye, even flat-cut stones will reflect small rays of light off the surface of stones. Some stones may exhibit a strong cat's eye effect which appears as single ray of light.

Tiger's Eye Cut and Shape

Tiger's eye is almost always cut en cabochon in order to maximize the desirable chatoyancy. In some cases, tiger's eye may be carved as an ornamental stone; flower carvings are very popular as well as animal carvings. Some materials may be faceted, but this is quite rare. Most tiger's eye stones are finished as ovals, but other shapes may also be found, including pears, rounds and freeform shapes.

Tiger's Eye Treatment

Tiger's eye gemstones are not normally treated or enhanced in any way. Some reddish or maroon colored stones may have been dyed or heated to improve color. In some rare cases, nitric acid can be used to lighten colors that are too dark. Imitation tiger's eye can also be found and is typically composed of artificial fiber-optic glass. Some honey colored tiger's eye may be misleadingly traded as chrysoberyl cat's eye.

Tiger's Eye Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Chemical Formula: SiO2; Silicon dioxide
Crystal Structure: Trigonal / hexagonal; fibrous aggregate
Color: Gold-yellow, gold-brown
Hardness: 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale
Refractive Index: 1.534 to 1.540
Density: 2.58 to 2.64
Cleavage: None
Transparency: Opaque
Double Refraction or Birefringence: None
Luster: Silky
Fluorescence: None

Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.

Tiger's Eye: Related or Similar Gemstones Back to Top
Hawk's Eye Gemstone
Hawk's Eye

Tiger's eye is one of the many types of macrocrystalline quartz. It is technically a pseudomorph of quartz which originally formed from fibrous crocidolite, one of several minerals which belong to the riebeckite family of amphibole silicates. Crocidolite is classified as a type of asbestos. As a type of quartz, there are many gemstone varieties which are similar or related to tiger's eye, including hawk's eye and pietersite. Tiger's eye is actually formed from hawk's eye, while pietersite is a rare type of gemstone composed mostly of hawk's eye and tiger's eye.

When tiger's eye is cut and finished with some of its host rock intact, it is traded as 'tiger's eye matrix'. Another form of tiger's eye known as 'tiger's iron' is actually a rock composed mostly of tiger's eye, red jasper and black hematite. It is often cut with its matrix and traded as 'tiger's iron matrix'.

Tiger's Eye Mythology, Metaphysical and Crystal Healing Properties Back to Top

Tiger's eye belongs to the large family of quartz crystals. It is thought to be good for physical strength and endurance. It is excellent for helping with vision problems and it is believed to enhance our ability to focus. Physically, it is often used for problems related to eyesight, as well as spinal and neck problems. It is even used for sinus congestion. Tiger's eye was used in ancient times by warriors and soldiers for protection and for its ability to give its wearer courage. It is believed to be a stone of confidence often used by travelers. It can also be used to help protect against negative energy.

Disclaimer: Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers and Properties are not to be taken as confirmed advice. Traditional, Ceremonial and Mythological Gemstone Lore is collected from various resources and does not represent the sole opinion of SETT Co., Ltd. This information is not to replace the advice of your doctor. Should you have any medical conditions, please see a licensed medical practitioner. GemSelect does not guarantee any claims or statements of healing or astrological birthstone powers and cannot be held liable under any circumstances.
Tiger's Eye Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top

Tiger's eye is actually quite rare in regard to worldwide distribution, but owing to sizeable deposits located in South Africa and Thailand, it remains rather affordable, making it quite popular for jewelry. Tiger's eye is also quite durable like all other varieties of quartz gemstones. Tiger's eye matrix is also popular for jewelry, perfectly suitable for large oversized tiger's eye rings, as well as men's cabochon rings. It has an attractive golden brown color which appeals to men and owing to its tribal look, it is often seen in interesting pendants, beaded necklaces or rings. Beaded tiger's eye jewelry is very popular. Many materials are carved into interesting floral cuts and other ornamental designs. The carved flowers can make striking pins or brooches.

Its attractive color, silky chatoyant luster and affordable prices make tiger's eye a favorite with many jewelry designers. It's an easy material to work with and is especially popular for men's jewelry designs, especially as cuff-links or tie-tacks. Tiger's eye can also be found in very large sizes, and unlike most other gemstones, price-per-carat is not tremendously affected by gem size.

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 diamonds by weight in comparison.

Tiger's Eye Gemstone Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top

How to clean your gemstonesLike most quartz gemstones, Tiger's eye is quite durable and resistant to wear and tear. However, it is sensitive to some acids commonly found in many household cleaning solvents. Cleaning should only done using only warm water and a mild soap or detergent. Avoid harsh chemicals and cleaners such as bleach, ammonia or sulfuric acid. Also avoid spraying perfume or hairspray on your tiger's eye gems.

Ultrasonic cleaners and steamers are generally considered safe for most quartz varieties, but care should be taken while doing so, and they are not usually recommended for any gem type. Always remove any tiger's eye gems before playing any sports, exercising, or performing any harsh household chores such as dishwashing. When storing your tiger's eye gemstones, store them separately and away from other gems and jewelry. It is best to wrap stones using a soft cloth, or place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box for extra protection.

  • First Published: April-18-2014
  • Last Updated: September-30-2016
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    Reproduction (text or graphics) without the express written consent of GemSelect.com (SETT Company Ltd.) is strictly prohibited.
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