Cat's Eye Scapolite Gemstone Information
About Cat's Eye Scapolite - History and Introduction
Cat's eye scapolite is a chatoyant variety of scapolite; a sodium calcium aluminum silicate with a rather complex chemical composition. Chatoyancy is an optical phenomenon distinguished by a unique reflection of light that closely resembles the slit-eye of a cat. It is an exceptionally rare phenomenon known to occur in only a handful of gem varieties; for example, chrysoberyl, apatite, aquamarine and tourmaline. Cat's eye scapolite is extremely rare and virtually unheard of by most. Owing to its rarity, scapolite is classified as one of the lesser-known gemstones, and due to its lack of hardness, cat's eye scapolite is primarily a collector's stone. Athough it is not very popular for jewelry, it is still highly desirable for its attractive honey-yellow color and cat's eye effect.
Scapolite's name is derived from the Greek word for 'stick', which refers to its long, columnar prismatic crystal structure, which often forms crystals that are square or octahedral in cross-section. Scapolite is a commonly occurring series of minerals, but they usually have little to no gemstone value owing to its level of opacity. Scapolite minerals occur in metamorphosed rocks as an alteration of plagioclase feldspar. The scapolite group of minerals range from sodium chloride-rich marialite to calcium carbonate-rich meionite. The name 'wernerite' is often used to refer to minerals that possess chemical characteristics between those of meionite and marialite.
Although all varieties of scapolite share very similar properties, they do have slightly differing chemistries. Distinguishing the different scapolite crystals can be extremely difficult, because the series of minerals differ only slightly with regard to density (specific gravity) and refractive index. Higher concentrations of calcium composition result in increased densities and refractive indices. Owing to the closeness of their properties, yet varying chemistries, scapolite has a variety of pseudonyms. The most common name used to refer to scapolite is wernerite, which comes from the name of scapolite's discoverer. Other scapolite names include mizzonite, dipyre, marialite and meionite. Another rare variety of scapolite is 'rainbow scapolite', which contains iridescent inclusions.
Identifying Cat's Eye Scapolite Back to Top
Scapolite, also known as wernerite, is often confused with sillimanite, topaz, golden beryl, chrysoberyl and tourmaline, but these gems are much harder than cat's eye scapolite. Owing to their distinct level of 'softness', varieties of scapolite can often be easily identified simply by testing for hardness. Tourmaline, chrysoberyl and quartz are known to occur with chatoyancy, but cat's eye scapolite has very distinct, clear and straight 'eyes', which can be helpful when trying to identify it from other chatoyant gemstones. Scapolite is closely related to diopside and olivine (peridot), so distinguishing these materials from one another may require advanced testing methods, such as testing for fluorescence or crystal structure. Scapolite is an alteration of plagioclase feldspar, so it shares similar traits with some varieties of feldspar.
Cat's Eye Scapolite Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
Scapolite was first discovered in 1913 in the Mogok Stone Tract in Upper Burma. Cat's eye scapolite is rare but it does occur in a number of locations around the world. Tanzania is thought to produce the highest quality scapolite. Other notable sources include Canada, Norway, Italy, Mexico and the USA. Transparent gemstone quality materials have also been found in Brazil, Madagascar, Namibia, Kenya, Canada and Burma. Canada is known to produce a mottled variety of scapolite, closely associated with diopside. Though it is opaque, the mottled pattern makes interesting gem-quality stones when cut and polished en cabochon.
Buying Cat's Eye Scapolite and Determining Cat's Eye Scapolite Gemstone Value Back to Top
Cat's Eye Scapolite Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Cat's Eye Scapolite: Varieties or Similar Gemstones: Back to Top
Cat's eye scapolite does not have too many closely related gemstones, but it does have close mineral associations with diopside. One of the opaque, yellowish or gray varieties of scapolite from Quebec, Canada is a well-known occurrence, and is often used by local Canadian jewelry makers. The Canadian material occurs opaque with mottled patterns and is often multicolored. It has an especially strong level of fluorescence, which makes it quite easily identifiable. Scapolite is an alteration product of plagioclase feldspar, so there scapolite is known to share many similarities with some feldspar gemstones.
Golden, yellow and yellow-green varieties of scapolite are actually sometimes considered to be a variety of chrysolite, otherwise known as olivine and peridot. There are also several possibilities for confusion based on appearance alone, such as chrysoberyl, golden beryl (heliodor), sphene, peridot, tourmaline and even rose quartz.
Cat's Eye Scapolite Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top
Cat's eye scapolite is not a very well-known stone, so it lacks the legend, lore and beliefs that many of the more popular gems have. It is not an officially known birthstone, nor does have any official planetary or zodiac purposes. However, it does still carry a very strong energy, for both mental and physical ailments, especially owing to its wide variety of color occurrences. Each color can supposedly help with specific areas of life or energy. In general, cat's eye scapolite is thought to help you find solutions to both past and present problems. This is why scapolite is known as a stone for problem solving. It is also a stone of achievement. It can help bring change, inspiration and purpose to your life and to those around you. Scapolite is a strong crystal, best for balancing the flow of energy in lower chakras as well as the heart chakra. Physically, cat's eye scapolite and other varieties of scapolite are thought to help with glaucoma and cataracts, and to alleviate pain in the shoulders, neck, head and upper chest. Rainbow scapolite with inclusions of magnetite is used in crystal healing jewelry. Magnetite is a magnetic member of the spinel group, and is believed by some to possess beneficial magnetic properties.
In Antiquity, as well as in the Middle Ages people believed that the cosmos is reflected in gemstones. The esoteric movement revived the ancient belief and the gem industry made it another marketing tool to promote certain gems. Although the healing powers of gems remain a controversial issue, it has been mentioned for centuries by healers, shamans and medicine men of various cultures. Whether it's based on fact or is simply a placebo effect, it truly doesn't matter as long as it helps those who need it. The best practice for crystal and metaphysical healing is to wear the gemstone in direct contact with the skin, especially close to the troubled part of the body.
Cat's Eye Scapolite Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Cat's eye scapolite is extremely rare and virtually unheard of by most. It is not a type of gemstone you'll find in local jewelry stores, so there is little to no demand for cat's eye scapolite jewelry. However, due to the attractive colors it can occur in, you may find some rare jewelry designs that incorporate cat's eye scapolite. These jewelry designs will usually be made by those who are true gem connoisseurs. If using any type of scapolite in jewelry, it is best to limit its use to earrings, pins, pendants or brooches, due to its lack of durability. Cat's eye scapolite has a good level of brilliance and an attractive vitreous luster, so when set with white or yellow precious metals, the results can be fantastic. Cat's eye scapolite is especially ideal for cabochon earrings, but not for rings as it is rather soft. The chatoyancy is very pronounced with scapolite and even under semi-direct light, the cat's eye can often be very striking.
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 Scapolite Gemstone and Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top
Caring for cat's eye scapolite can be very difficult due to its softness. Since ordinary dust often contains traces of quartz, simply wiping off dust can eventually lead to surface scratches and reduced polish in your cat's eye scapolite. Avoid the use of ultrasonic cleaners and steamers and avoid extreme heat as this can permanently damage the color of your scapolite stone. Always remove jewelry or gems before playing sports, exercising or engaging in household chores.
You can wipe your stones using a soft cloth and a mild soap or detergent if needed. Avoid harsh cleaners, such as those containing bleach or ammonia. Be sure to rinse your stones well to remove soapy residue and you can dry them using a soft cloth or tissue, or simply allow them to air-dry. When storing your cat's eye scapolite gemstones, store them away from other gems and jewelry to prevent scratches. It is best to wrap stones individually using a soft cloth or you can place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box.
- First Published: September-18-2013
- Last Updated: October-12-2017
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