Aquamarine and Chrysoberyl Cat's Eye


Cat’s Eye gemstones have long captivated the imagination with their unique visual effect and mystical allure. These remarkable stones exhibit a phenomenon known as chatoyancy, where a band of light reflects across the surface, resembling the slit eye of a cat. This blog delves into the rich history, fascinating characteristics, and enduring appeal of Cat’s Eye gemstones, providing a comprehensive guide to these enchanting stones.

History and Origin

Ancient History

The history of Cat’s Eye gemstones dates back to ancient civilizations. These stones were highly prized in cultures across the globe, often associated with protection and good fortune. In ancient India, Cat’s Eye was believed to ward off evil spirits and safeguard against misfortune. Similarly, the Romans considered it a talisman for protection in battle and a symbol of power. In ancient Egypt, Cat’s Eye stones were often used in jewelry and amulets to bring protection and prosperity.

Modern Discovery

In modern times, the study and appreciation of Cat’s Eye gemstones have evolved significantly. Today, these stones are primarily found in countries like Sri Lanka, Brazil, and India. Sri Lanka, in particular, is renowned for producing some of the finest Cat’s Eye gemstones, especially the coveted Chrysoberyl Cat’s Eye. These stones have become highly sought after by gem collectors and enthusiasts around the world, with their unique optical properties making them stand out in the gem market.

Characteristics and Types

Visual Appearance

The defining feature of Cat’s Eye gemstones is their chatoyancy. This effect occurs due to the reflection of light off parallel inclusions within the stone, creating a luminous band that moves as the stone is rotated. The most common colors for Cat’s Eye stones include shades of green, yellow, brown, and gray. The sharpness of the cat’s eye effect can vary, with the best stones displaying a clear, distinct line that contrasts sharply with the rest of the stone.

Types of Cat’s Eye Stones

  • Chrysoberyl Cat’s Eye: Known for its sharp, distinct chatoyancy, this type is the most sought after. Chrysoberyl Cat’s Eye, also known as “Cymophane,” typically exhibits colors ranging from honey brown to yellowish-green. The finest specimens show a strong, bright, and well-defined eye that can appear to open and close as the stone is moved.
Chrysoberyl Cat’s Eye
  • Quartz Cat’s Eye: Displays a softer chatoyancy and comes in a variety of colors, including green, yellow, and brown. Quartz Cat’s Eye is more common and generally less expensive than Chrysoberyl.
Quartz Cat's Eye
Quartz Cat’s Eye
  • Tourmaline Cat’s Eye: Offers vibrant colors such as pink, red, green, and blue, with distinct chatoyancy. This type is relatively rare and highly prized for its vivid hues.
Pink Tourmaline Cat’s Eye
  • Apatite Cat’s Eye: Known for its bright blue-green hues, Apatite Cat’s Eye can exhibit beautiful chatoyancy. It is less common but valued for its striking color.
Apatite Cat's Eye
Apatite Cat’s Eye
  • Scapolite Cat’s Eye: Typically found in yellow to brown shades, Scapolite Cat’s Eye is appreciated for its silky appearance and moderate chatoyancy.
Scapolite Cat’s Eye
  • Aquamarine Cat’s Eye: Rare and prized for its blue tones, Aquamarine Cat’s Eye is a unique variety that combines the beauty of aquamarine with the intriguing cat’s eye effect.
Aquamarine Cat's Eye
Aquamarine Cat’s Eye
  • Sillimanite Cat’s Eye: Known for its unique silky appearance, Sillimanite Cat’s Eye often comes in shades of gray, green, and brown.
Sillimanite Cat’s Eye

Other Gemstones Exhibiting Chatoyancy

While the above stones are the most well-known for their cat’s eye effect, several other gemstones can also exhibit chatoyancy under specific conditions. These include:

  • Alexandrite: Known for its color-changing properties, alexandrite can also display a cat’s eye effect, adding to its rarity and value.
  • Emerald: Some emeralds can show a cat’s eye effect, though it is extremely rare.
  • Ruby: Rubies with chatoyancy are highly prized, as they combine the rich red color with the unique optical phenomenon.
  • Sapphire: Cat’s eye sapphires, particularly those in blue or star sapphires, are highly sought after by collectors and gem enthusiasts.

Understanding the types of cat’s eye stones and their unique properties can help in appreciating their beauty and rarity. Whether you are a collector, jeweler, or simply a gemstone enthusiast, these stones offer a fascinating glimpse into the world of mineralogy and gemology.

Formation and Mineral Composition

Geological Formation

Cat’s Eye gemstones form under specific geological conditions. Most notably, Chrysoberyl Cat’s Eye forms in pegmatite veins and alluvial deposits. The chatoyancy effect is primarily due to fibrous inclusions or needle-like structures within the stone, typically rutile. These inclusions align parallel to one another during the stone’s formation, causing the light to reflect in a concentrated band.

Mineral Composition

The composition of Cat’s Eye stones varies depending on the type. Chrysoberyl Cat’s Eye, for example, is composed of beryllium aluminum oxide. The chatoyancy effect is usually caused by parallel inclusions of rutile fibers, which reflect light in a manner that creates the cat’s eye effect. Other types, like Quartz Cat’s Eye, owe their chatoyancy to parallel fibrous inclusions or hollow tubes within the stone.

Identifying Genuine Cat’s Eye Gemstones

Visual Inspection

To identify a genuine Cat’s Eye gemstone, observe the stone under a single light source. A real Cat’s Eye will display a sharp, distinct line of light that moves across the surface. The line should be straight and continuous, with a clear division of color on either side. High-quality Cat’s Eye stones will have a well-defined and mobile eye, and the body color of the stone should be even and rich.

Professional Assessment

For a definitive assessment, it’s essential to seek certification from a reputable gemological laboratory. Certificates from recognized institutions like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) provide assurance of authenticity and quality. These certificates detail the stone’s characteristics, including its type, origin, and any treatments it may have undergone.

Symbolism and Cultural Significance

Mystical Properties

Cat’s Eye gemstones are surrounded by various mystical beliefs. They are thought to enhance intuition, protect against evil forces, and bring good fortune. Many people wear Cat’s Eye stones as talismans or amulets for their supposed protective qualities. In Vedic astrology, Cat’s Eye is associated with the planet Ketu and is believed to help the wearer overcome obstacles and achieve success.

Cultural Impact

In different cultures, Cat’s Eye stones hold significant symbolic meanings. In Indian astrology, for example, Cat’s Eye is associated with the planet Ketu and is believed to mitigate the adverse effects of this celestial body. In other cultures, Cat’s Eye is seen as a stone of vision and insight. In Chinese culture, it is often used in Feng Shui practices to attract positive energy and ward off negative influences.

Uses and Benefits

Jewelry and Fashion

Cat’s Eye gemstones are popular in jewelry due to their unique appearance. They are commonly set in rings, pendants, and bracelets, often as cabochons to best display the chatoyancy effect. Their distinctive look makes them a favorite among jewelry enthusiasts and collectors. Cat’s Eye stones can be paired with other gemstones to create stunning, one-of-a-kind pieces that draw attention and admiration.

Healing and Metaphysical Uses

Beyond their aesthetic appeal, Cat’s Eye stones are also valued in alternative healing practices. They are believed to aid in emotional healing, enhance concentration, and promote clarity of thought. Some use Cat’s Eye gemstones during meditation to deepen their practice and enhance spiritual insight. It is also said that Cat’s Eye can help in overcoming past trauma and provide strength during challenging times.

Caring for Your Cat’s Eye Gemstone

Cleaning and Maintenance

To keep your Cat’s Eye gemstone looking its best, clean it regularly with mild soap and warm water. Avoid harsh chemicals and ultrasonic cleaners, as these can damage the stone. Gently scrub with a soft brush to remove any dirt or debris. It’s important to rinse the stone thoroughly after cleaning to remove any soap residue that could dull its appearance.

Storage and Handling

Store your Cat’s Eye gemstone separately from other jewelry to prevent scratches. Wrap it in a soft cloth or keep it in a padded jewelry box. Handle the stone with care to avoid chipping or damaging the surface. When not wearing your Cat’s Eye jewelry, store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent any potential fading or damage.

Buying Guide

What to Look For

When purchasing a Cat’s Eye gemstone, consider the sharpness and movement of the chatoyancy. The more distinct and mobile the line, the higher the quality. Also, look for a stone with good color saturation and clarity. A high-quality Cat’s Eye will have a bright, well-defined eye that contrasts clearly with the stone’s body color.

Trusted Sellers

Always buy from reputable sellers who provide certification. Reputable online retailers include sites like Zadran Gems, James Allen and Blue Nile. For offline purchases, visit established jewelers with a proven track record. Ensure that the seller offers a return policy and is willing to provide documentation of the stone’s authenticity and characteristics.


Cat’s Eye gemstones continue to fascinate with their unique optical properties and rich history. Whether appreciated for their beauty, used for their alleged metaphysical properties, or worn as a fashion statement, these stones offer something for everyone. Explore the world of Cat’s Eye gemstones and discover their timeless allure.


What causes the cat’s eye effect in gemstones?

The cat’s eye effect, or chatoyancy, is caused by light reflecting off parallel inclusions or needle-like structures within the stone.

Are all Cat’s Eye gemstones the same?

No, there are several types of Cat’s Eye gemstones, including Chrysoberyl, Quartz, Tourmaline, and others, each with unique properties and appearances.

How can I tell if a Cat’s Eye gemstone is real?

A genuine Cat’s Eye gemstone will display a sharp, distinct line of light that moves across the surface when viewed under a single light source. Certification from a reputable gemological lab also ensures authenticity.

What is the most valuable type of Cat’s Eye gemstone?

Chrysoberyl Cat’s Eye is generally considered the most valuable, especially stones with a sharp, well-defined chatoyancy.

Can Cat’s Eye gemstones be used in healing practices?

Yes, many people believe that Cat’s Eye gemstones have healing properties and use them in alternative therapies and meditation practices.

Additional Resources

For more information on Cat’s Eye gemstones, consider exploring resources from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA). These institutions provide comprehensive guides and certifications to help you better understand and appreciate these unique stones.