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: Actinolite Cat's Eye Info

Actinolite Cat's Eye Gemstone Information

About Actinolite Cat's Eye - History and Introduction

Actinolite cat's eye is a rare translucent gemstone variety of chatoyant actinolite. It is often misleadingly referred to as "cat's eye jade", because of its close association with nephrite jade. The name 'actinolite' was derived from the Greek word for 'ray' or 'beam', which refers to its fibrous nature. These fine fibers allow actinolite to exhibit the rare 'cats eye effect'. When aligned fibrous inclusions occur in sufficient quantity and quality, a concentrated line of light appears to glide across the surface of domed stones when properly oriented and cut en cabochon. Cat's eye gemstones must be viewed under a strong light in order to display the reflective eye, although some finer specimens may exhibit chatoyancy even in faint direct light.

Actinolite is an amphibole silicate mineral and is actually quite common in occurrence, although gem-quality materials are extremely rare. Actinolite belongs to a series of minerals ranging from iron-rich tremolite to magnesium-rich ferro-actinolite amphiboles. Actinolite is an intermediate member of the mineral series, as is nephrite, which is an aggregate variety of tremolite-actinolite.

Actinolite Cat's Eye
Identifying Actinolite Cat's Eye Back to Top

Actinolite cat's eye can be identified by the chemical formula Ca2(Mg,Fe2+)5[OHlSi4O11]2. It is closely related to nephrite and shares many of the same gemological properties. Actinolite has a Mohs hardness ranging from 5.5 to 6 and a refractive index of 1.590 of 1.623. Actinolite is known to crystallize with monoclinic crystal form and crystals can sometimes appear similar to green hornblende. However, actinolite is typically quite translucent, and occasionally transparent, whereas hornblende crystals are always opaque.

Actinolite Cat's Eye; Origin and Sources Back to Top

Actinolite is a common mineral found in some types of metamorphic rocks. However, gemstone quality materials are extremely rare, especially crystals that exhibit chatoyancy. The most significant sources for fine actinolite cat's eye stones include Taiwan and Canada. Other notable deposits are also found in Western Australia, Brazil, Madagascar, Tanzania and the United States.

Buying Actinolite Cat's Eye and Determining Actinolite Cat's Eye Value Back to Top

Actinolite Cat's Eye Color

Actinolite cat's eye is typically green to yellowish in color and often similar to that of fine jade. Like jade, actinolite cat's eye may also occur in rarer colors, such as white, colorless, yellow, gray, brown and black.

Actinolite Cat's Eye Clarity and Luster

Actinolite cat's eye typically occurs translucent to opaque. Transparent materials are rare, but not unheard of. Luster is vitreous when cut and polished, but in crystal form, actinolite may exhibit a dull luster. The cat's eye effect is owed to parallel aligned fibers formed in the stone.

Actinolite Cat's Eye Cut and Shape

Actinolite cat's eye gemstones are always cut en cabochon in order to best exhibit desirable chatoyancy effects. Calibrated sizes are quite rare. The most common shapes include ovals, rounds and pears. Gem cutters must center and properly orient the cat's eye so that the slit bisects the finished stone. Many actinolite cat's eye gemstones are cut with uneven bottoms, but this is considered normal. Even the most skilled lapidarists find that centering cat's eye gemstones frequently necessitates such uneven results.

Actinolite Cat's Eye Treatment

Actinolite cat's eye is not known to be treated or enhanced in any way.

Actinolite Cat's Eye Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Chemical Formula: Ca2(Mg,Fe2+)5[OHlSi4O11]2 - Amphibole silicate
Crystal Structure: Monoclinic
Color: Colorless, green, yellow, white, gray, black and brown.
Hardness: 5.5 to 6 on the Mohs scale
Refractive Index: 1.614 to 1.653
Density: 3.03 to 3.07
Cleavage: Good
Transparency: Transparent, translucent, opaque
Double Refraction or Birefringence: 0.020 to 0.025
Luster: Vitreous to dull
Fluorescence: None

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

Actinolite Cat's Eye: Related or Similar Gemstones Back to Top
Nephrite Jade Cabochon
Shop Jade Gems

Actinolite is an amphibole silicate; an intermediate member between tremolite and iron-rich ferro-actinolite. Some forms of actinolite are considered a type of asbestos, such as 'byssolite', a variety of fibrous actinolite. The old mineral name 'uralite' is sometimes used to describe an alteration product of primary pyroxene largely composed of actinolite.

Actinolite members also include the very well-known nephrite; one of the two distinct minerals recognized as jade (the other is jadeite). In fact, actinolite cat's eye is sometimes misleadingly referred to as jade cat's-eye, owing to their similarity and close association. There are also a variety of other gemstones similar in color and luster, but very few that are known to occur with chatoyancy.

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

The name 'actinolite' is derived from the Greek word 'aktinos', which means 'ray'. Actinolite is a rare gemstone, but it still very popular for its metaphysical abilities. It is believed to be an excellent stone for both physical and spiritual healing. Although it may be used for any of the chakras, it is best used for balancing the energies of the heart chakra, as it is known to help produce soothing energies and awareness. Being related to nephrite; one of the two main types of jade, many believe that actinolite also carries the powers and energies of jade. Thus, actinolite may also aid in repelling negative thoughts and enhance physical balance.

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.
Actinolite Cat's Eye Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top

Actinolite cat's eye is not a gemstone you'll find in most jewelry stores. In fact, actinolite in general is rather unheard of by most average consumers, except in the form of nephrite. It is also rather soft and not ideal for most jewelry designs, though if worn with care, actinolite cat's eye gemstones can make exquisite jewelry. Like most cat's eye gems, actinolite cat's eyes are best worn as actinolite cabochon gemstone rings, which best display the desirable 'cat's eye' or chatoyancy effect. Other designs, such as pendants, earrings, pins and brooches are also fine, but they are less likely to be exposed to direct or ideal lighting that allows the cat's eye to be clearly seen. However, actinolite cat's eyes are rather strong in their ability to exhibit chatoyancy, much like chrysoberyl cat's eyes. Even in indirect lighting, fine actinolite cat's eyes can reflect a beautiful cat's eye slit.

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.

Actinolite Cat's Eye Gemstone and Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top

How to Clean your GemstonesActinolite cat's eyes are rather soft compared to most other jewelry gemstones. Unlike nephrite, actinolite is also known to exhibit good cleavage, which means that it lacks the toughness and durability needed for most mainstream jewelry. To clean your actinolite gemstones, use only plain soapy water and a soft cloth. Be sure to rinse well to remove soapy residue. When cleaning, avoid harsh chemicals or cleaners. As with most gemstones, also avoid the use of ultrasonic cleaners and heat steamers.

Always remove any actinolite cat's eye jewelry before exercising, playing sports, or engaging in household chores such as dishwashing. Store actinolite cat's eye gems away from other gems and jewelry to avoid scratches and fractures. It is best to always wrap your gemstones in soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box for extra protection.

  • First Published: March-31-2014
  • Last Updated: July-13-2017
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