Peering into the Eye of the Tiger

When we talk of tigers, who can forget the unparalleled beauty of their gorgeous eyes! Did you know some gemstones display a similar phenomenon? Known as chatoyancy, it comes from the French word chatoyer, which means “to shine like a cat’s eye.” This effect resembles the way a cat’s pupils go narrow when bright light falls on them. Some might call it the “cat’s eye effect.”

Silver ring featuring prominent tiger's eye gemstone.

How Does Chatoyancy Work?

Chatoyancy occurs in gemstones with a higher number of parallel thin inclusions. often known as “silk.” These inclusions can be crystals, tubes, or other structures. When the light reflects from such optical characteristics, it forms a band on the surface of the gemstone. The effect always occurs at 90 degrees to the length of the inclusions.

In gemstones that display chatoyancy, a band of light goes back and forth underneath the surface of the gem as it rotates under a beam of light. If the position of the light is changed or if the viewer changes the angle, the band moves accordingly. This motion is one of the things that fascinates us most about chatoyant gemstones!

Tiger's eye beaded jewelry.

Many gemstones have the potential to display chatoyancy. However, only a select few brilliantly show this mesmerizing effect. Gems famous for this effect include tiger’s eye, of course! Lab-created chrysoberyl is another popular option.

Get your own tiger’s eye jewelry and capture the power of this magnificent beast.

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July 29 is Global Tiger Day. What do you love most about tigers? Tell us in the comments below!