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By Reviewed By Andreas Zabczyk

Cat's Eye Apatite Gemstone Information

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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, including chrysoberyl, the original and most well-known variety of cat's eye. The chatoyancy effect is a unique reflection of light that resembles the slit-eye of a cat when viewed under certain lighting conditions. The cat's eye effect is highly desirable and is usually the result of parallel fibers or needle-like inclusions formed within the stone. Cat's eye apatite is best viewed under direct lighting.

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. Apatite is actually a group of phosphate minerals, composed of calcium phosphate, the very same material that makes up the teeth and bones of humans and other animals. Apatite is a primary source for phosphorus, an essential chemical used in bioenergetics and photosynthesis, and is widely used for the production of fertilizers, explosives, fireworks, pesticides, toothpaste, detergents and pharmaceutical products.

cats eye apatite

Identifying Cat's Eye Apatite

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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. As the stone is rotated, a cat's eye reflection will appear to glide across the surface of the stone, similar to the asterism effect seen in a variety of gems, including star sapphire and star ruby (among others). 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 Origin and Gemstone Sources

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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

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Cat's Eye Apatite Color

Cat's eye apatite can occur in variety of colors, including pink, yellow, green, blue and violet. Color saturation is usually the most important factor when evaluating apatite, but for cat's eye gemstones, the strength and sharpness of the 'eye' is the most valuable trait, followed closely by intensity of color.

Cat's Eye Apatite Clarity and Luster

Cat's eye apatite has a vitreous luster. Cat's eye apatite is typically translucent to transparent in clarity. Almost all apatite gemstones exhibit visible inclusions; eye-clean specimens are especially rare.

Cat's Eye Apatite Cut and Shape

Cat's eye apatite is always cut en cabochon. Cabochons maximize the desirable trait of chatoyancy. Most cabochons are oval, since cutters try to preserve as much carat weight as possible. Cat's eye apatite may also be cut into round cabochons or pear-shaped cabochons, but these are quite rare.

Cat's Eye Apatite Treatment

Cat's eye apatite stones are typically untreated gems. Some specifically colored varieties, such as bright blue and green stones, may be color-enhanced though heat treatment. Irradiation treatment may also be used to improve chatoyancy. In any case, all gemstone treatments and enhancements should always be disclosed by trusted gemstone dealers.

Cat's Eye Apatite Gemological Properties:

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Chemical Formula: Ca5(PO4)3(F,OH,CI) - Basic fluoro- and chloro-calcium
Crystal Structure: Hexagonal, columnar, thick tabular
Color: Pink, yellow, green, blue and violet
Hardness: 5 on the Mohs scale - (defining mineral)
Refractive Index: 1.628 to 1.649
Density: 3.16 to 3.23
Cleavage: Indiscernible, conchoidal fracture
Transparency: Transparent to translucent
Double Refraction or Birefringence: -0.002 to -0.006
Luster: Vitreous
Fluorescence: Yellow apatite: Purple to pink

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

Cat's Eye Apatite: Varieties or Similar Gemstones:

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Buy Apatite Gems

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.

Most Popular Similar Gemstones and Minerals:

Light-green 'asparagus stone' apatite, neon-blue apatite, neon blue-green apatite, violet-purple apatite and green apatite are the most popular and well-known trade names used for similar gems.

Lesser-Known Similar Gemstones and Minerals:

Carbonate apatite (carbonate-rich), collophane apatite, mangan-apatite, sammite-apatite, staffelite-apatite and moroxite apatite are the least-known trade names used for similar or related minerals.

Cat's Eye Apatite Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Healing Powers

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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.

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 is not 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.

Cat's Eye Apatite Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas

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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

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How to clean your gemstonesApatite 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.

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