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.
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 Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Tiger's Eye: Related or Similar Gemstones Back to Top
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.
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
Like 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: October-17-2017
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