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Tigers Eye Properties Facts and Photos

polished tigers eye mineral

Tigers Eye Original Chatoyant Gemstone

Tigers eye or tiger eye is a popular mineral used primarily for decorative purposes.  Fine grade material can be exceptionally chatoyant especially when stones have been well cut and polished.

A rock or mineral that's chatoyant exhibits an optical phenomenon that's caused as light reflects off microcroscopic fibres below the surface of the stone.  The reflection creates a narrow parallel band of light that imparts a silky sheen.  As the stone is gently moved the band of light also moves which can give the impression colours or patterns are moving.

The word 'chatoyant' originates from the French word for 'cat's eye'.

Brown and yellow tigers eye is well known but red and black can also be produced by heating the stone.  Blue tigers also known as Hawks Eye is natural.

Heat treatments are widely used to enhance or change the colour of many rocks and minerals.  The practice has been used in one form or another for thousands of years.

The ancient Roman author, naturalist and philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote about the effect that fire had on stones.  He said one gemstone could be changed into another and the colour of quartz could be changed to that of an emerald.

In chapter 75 of his encyclopaedia Naturalis Historia pliny writes;

There is considerable difficulty in distinguishing genuine stones from false; the more so, as there has been discovered a method of transforming genuine stones of one kind into false stones of another.

Sardonyx, for example, is imitated by cementing together three other precious stones, in such a way that no skill can detect the fraud; a black stone being used for the purpose, a white stone, and one of a vermilion colour, each of them, in its own way, a stone of high repute.

Nay, even more than this, there are books in existence, the authors of which I forbear to name, which give instructions how to stain crystal in such a way as to imitate smaragdus and other transparent stones, how to make sardonyx of sarda, and other gems in a similar manner. Indeed, there is no kind of fraud practised, by which larger profits are made.


Ref; (Pliny's Naturalis Historia chapter 75).  

Smaragdus is an ancient name for emerald.  Sardonyx and sard are types of carnelian.

Tigers eye is a relatively hard material which makes it quite easy to work with.  It grades 7 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness which measures the scratch resistance of one mineral against another.

Tigers eye can be found in huge quantities in Western Australia in an area rich in iron.  South Africa also has extensive reserves.  The finest grade material comes from Griqualand West.

Does Tigers Eye Contain Asbestos?

In recent years concerns have been raised about the presence of asbestos in tigers eye.  Until quite recently it was widely believed the crocidolite in tigers eye had been replaced over millions of years with silicon dioxide.  Crocidolite is a type of asbestos.

When one mineral replaces another the process is known as pseudomorphism.  A pseudomorph looks like one mineral but is actually another.  Although the shape or crystal structure of the original mineral remains the same, the mineral has changed.  A new mineral replaces the original one.

Pseudomorph literally means 'false form'.

In tigers eye it was long believed the crocidolite had been replaced with quartz (silicon dioxide).  A new study carried out fairly recently has proven that not to be the case.

The study revealed no mineral replacement has taken place.  Tigers eye is made up of crocidolite and quartz.

The word 'asbestos' often causes panic but the danger from this mineral comes from inhaling its dust or microscopic fibres.  In tigers eye the crocidolite is 'fossilised' deep within the quartz.  For this reason it poses no risk at all.

Asbestos was widely used in building materials prior to the year 2000.  It's only dangerous when fibres break away, become airborne and are breathed in.  That's simply not possible because of the way it's embedded within tigers eye.

It should be remembered malachite is an ore of copper and as such, its dust is highly toxic.  Few people have concerns about handling this green mineral because quite rightly, it poses no risk unless it's being cut and polished.

Many minerals are dangerous if small particles enter the lungs. Examples include quartz, fluorite, pyrite and apatite amongst others.  Handling most minerals poses no risk.  Using them as an elixir or cutting or grinding them down is when precautions must be taken.

The chatoyance in tigers eye is caused as light reflects off the microscopic fibres of crocidolite. 

rough chunk of the mineral tigers eye

Metaphysical Healing Properties

Tigers eye has long been used for protection.  Roman soldiers wore or carried it because they believed it was an all seeing eye hence would keep them safe.

When used for its healing properties it enhances psychic ability, brings out integrity and helps you to achieve your goals.  It helps you recognise the needs of others as well as your own and to differentiates between what you want and what you need.

Tigers eye can be used to resolve dilemmas and internal conflicts.  It can also combat indecisiveness.  It releases inner talents and abilities and can support those who suffer with an addictive personality.

On a emotional level tigers eye balances yin and yang energies, revitalises the emotional body, fights depression and lifts low mood.

It's a stone for business success because of its ability to bring clarity.  Tigers eye symbolizes willpower, confidence and assurance.  Its calming energies help relieve obstinate or stubborn behaviour and can be used to reduce stress.

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