Cat's Eye Diaspore Gemstone Information
About Cat's Eye Diaspore - History and Introduction
Cat's eye diaspore is a distinct chatoyant variety of color change diaspore, an aluminum oxide hydroxide mineral. Diaspore is one of three major mineral components of bauxite, an important ore of aluminum. Diaspore is mined commercially from only one location in the world, the Anatolian Mountains of Mugla, Turkey. Although diaspore was first discovered in 1801, it wasn't actually faceted as a gemstone until the early 1980s, and has only recently been mined on a commercial level. When diaspore was first introduced, it was marketed under the trade name 'Zultanite', a name that came from the company that owned the mining rights. However, the brand name was short-lived and the gemstone is now referred to mostly by its original mineral name.
Diaspore very rarely occurs in gemstone quality, and material that exhibits chatoyancy (cat's eye effect) is even more of a rarity. The cat's eye reflection is caused by the parallel alignment of rutile needle-like inclusions. All diaspore gemstones exhibit an interesting ability to color change, including cat's eye diaspore. There are only a few gem types known to exhibit color change ability, and even fewer exhibit chatoyancy along with the ability to color change (chrysoberyl cat's eye alexandrite). In addition to color change and chatoyancy, cat's eye diaspore also exhibits pleochroism, another rare optical phenomenon. As a result of pleochroism, a single stone can appear violet-blue, light green and pink to dark-red, depending on the viewing angle. Pleochroism is completely separate from the ability to color change.
Identifying Cat's Eye Diaspore Back to Top
Cat's eye diaspore can be easily distinguished from other types of diaspore by the unique presence of chatoyancy. The excellent hardness and durability of diaspore can often easily distinguish cat's eye diaspore from other similar materials. The strong level of pleochroism is an easily identifiable trait, but the combination of color change, chatoyancy and pleochroism renders cat's eye diaspore almost unmistakable. Cat's eye diaspore also has a very distinct pearly and vitreous luster. Spodumene can sometimes be confused with diaspore, but it does not possess the optical traits of cat's eye diaspore.
Cat's Eye Diaspore Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
Cat's eye diaspore can be found in various locations around the world, but the only major commercial source is Mugla, Turkey. Other diaspore locations and deposits include Russia's Ural Mountain region, mainly the Saranovskii Mine in Sarany, as well as South Africa's Wessels and N'Chwaning Mines located in Kuruman. Some smaller notable deposits have also been found in Chester, Massachusetts (USA), but nothing of major commercial quantity. Other smaller deposits have also been found in New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, the UK, China, Arizona and Pennsylvania (USA).
Buying Cat's Eye Diaspore and Determining Cat's Eye Diaspore Gemstone Value Back to Top
Cat's Eye Diaspore Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Cat's Eye Diaspore: Varieties or Similar Gemstones: Back to Top
Cat's eye diaspore has very few similar gems, especially owing to its combination of rare optical properties. Gibbsite and boehmite are somewhat similar, as they are the other two major components of bauxite. Diaspore occurs as an alteration product of corundum; although they share similar qualities, they are not exactly related. The only possibility for confusion with cat's eye diaspore would be cat's eye alexandrite (chrysoberyl), or possibly some rare specimens of color change sapphire and color change garnet. Cat's eye diaspore has many unofficial trade names, including Turkish diaspore, cat's eye Zultanite, empholite, kayserite and tanatarite, as well as various spelling variations of these names.
Cat's Eye Diaspore Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top
Cat's eye diaspore is not a very well-known gem, and since it is relatively new, there is very little fame, myth and legend associated with the stone. It is not an official birthstone for any month, and it has no official place in the scheme of astrology and planetary energy. However, as a gemstone with many colors, its color is the key to its crystal power and metaphysical energy.
Crystals of green color are known to be strong and nurturing. Green is an earthy color, so green colored cat's eye diaspore can help with new life and encourage growth and development. Olive colored stones are known to help with dedication and focus. They can enhance our hunger for knowledge and increase our yearning for wisdom. All shades of green represent intelligence, so whether your stone is kiwi-green or olive-green, it will help strengthen your ability to learn and absorb knowledge.
The healing powers of gems has been mentioned for centuries by healers, shamans and medicine men of every culture. Whether these beliefs are based on fact or simply a placebo effect, it truly doesn't matter as long as those who believe feel some benefit. The best practice for alternative crystal healing is to wear the gemstone in direct contact with the skin, especially near the injured part of the body.
Cat's Eye Diaspore Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Cat's eye diaspore is an excellent jewelry gemstone. Since it is always cut en cabochon, some jewelry designs are more appropriate than others. Owing to its rare optical traits, cat's eye diaspore is especially attractive for jewelry-wear. Cat's eye diaspore has good hardness and durability, comparable to that of peridot and tanzanite. Its refractive index lies between that of tanzanite and spinel, which means it has attractive brilliance and excellent dispersion.
Cat's eye diaspore can easily split due to its perfect cleavage, so extra care should be taken when cutting, polishing and setting stones into jewelry. Cat's eye diaspore is ideal for cabochon earrings, pendants, pins and brooches. If wearing cat's eye diaspore in a cabochon ring, it is recommended to use a protective style setting, such as a bezel setting. Rings are prone to hard knocks, so extra care should be taken to avoid blows that can cause the stone to split.
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.
Cat's Eye Diaspore Gemstone and Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top
Cat's eye diaspore is considerably hard, but it is still slightly softer than common quartz. Ordinary dust often contains traces of quartz, so by simply wiping down your gemstone, it can eventually lead to reduction of polish. Cat's eye diaspore has a distinct perfect cleavage, very similar to that of diamond and topaz, which means that a single blow can cause it to fracture. It is recommended that extra care be taken during cutting, polishing and setting of the gem. Avoid wearing diaspore jewelry when working with harsh chemicals and cleaners, especially bleach and sulfuric acid. Always remove any gems or jewelry before playing sports, exercising or engaging in household chores.
Do not use ultrasonic cleaners or steamers to clean your gems and avoid extreme heat or temperature fluctuations. When cleaning, you can use warm soapy water and a soft cloth to wipe down your stone. Be sure to rinse well to remove soapy residue. To prevent scratches, always keep your gems and jewelry separate when storing them. It is best to wrap them in a soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box.
- First Published: September-17-2013
- Last Updated: July-18-2017
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