Tiger’s Eye is a silicate mineral and form of quartz. It has a distinct optical phenomenon, called chatoyant, or ‘cat-eye’ effect. This effect is created from the parallel intergrowth of needle-like quartz crystals (amphibole fibres) creating bands of various shades that reflect light like the pupil in a tiger’ eye.
Gemstones: Tiger’s Eye
Tiger’s Eye is not transparent, but has an attractive silky luster. The colours within Tiger’s Eye range from golden yellow to reddish brown. It has a rating of 5.5-6 on the Mohs Hardness scale which makes it fairly easy to carve into shapes for jewellery.
Tiger’s Eye is typically cut into slices and mounted in gold or polished into beads or domed cabochons to showcase its unique patterns.
It is a stone that has been used in jewellery since Antiquity: the ancient Egyptians believed it would ward off the evil eye, and Roman soldiers wore Tiger’s Eye into battle to give them courage. In recent years Van Cleef and Arpels included Tiger’s Eye in their iconic Alhambra collection.
Tiger’s Eye is found across the globe in large deposits, and is therefore, more affordable than other precious or semi-precious materials used in jewellery. South Africa and Thailand are the main locations in which Tiger’s Eye is found. Deposits have also been found in Brazil, India, Spain, and Canada. A green form of Tiger’s Eye, called Serpentine, is found in Arizona and California in the United States, but this form has fewer amphibole fibres and a duller appearance than the golden tones of Tiger’s Eye.