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Tigers Eye Properties Facts and Photos

polished tigers eye mineral

Tigers Eye Meaning

Tigers eye or tiger eye is a popular mineral used primarily for decorative purposes.  Fine grade stone can be exceptionally chatoyant.

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 tigers eye is gently moved the band of light also moves which can give the impression colours or patterns are moving.

The word 'chatoyant' which comes from French means 'cat's eye'.

Brown and yellow tigers eye is well known but red and black varieties 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.  This practice has been used for thousands of years.

The Ancient Roman author, naturalist and philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote about the effect of fire 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 stone which makes it quite easy to work with.  It grades 7 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness.  This tool grades the resistance of mineral being scratched by another.

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

Tigers Eye and Asbestos

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

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 itself has changed.  A new mineral replaces the original one.

Pseudomorph literally means 'false form'.

Although it had long been believed the asbestos in tigers eye had been replaced with quartz, a study carried out in 2003 revealed no mineral replacement had 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 locked deep within the quartz.  It therefore poses no risk at all.

Asbestos was widely used on an industrial scale up until the year 2000.  It's only dangerous when fibres break away, become airborne and are breathed in.  That's simply not possible when handling tigers eye because the asbestos fibres are encapsulated within the quartz.

It's worth noting malachite is an ore of copper and as such its dust is highly toxic.  The microscopic crystalline silica particles in quartz are also very dangerous if inhaled.  In fact dust or fibres from many natural minerals can be hazardous.  This doesn't mean they're dangerous to handle.  They become dangerous when being cut, drilled or sanded.  People who do this work are aware of the dangers and take appropriate precautions.

The chatoyance in tigers eye is caused as light reflects off microscopic fibres of the asbestos mineral crocidolite.  The extent to which this can be seen is dependant on the orientation of the fibres and the level of expertise used when cutting the stone. 

rough chunk of the mineral tigers eye

Tigers Eye Healing Properties

When used for its metaphysical healing properties tigers eye has long been associated with protection.  Roman soldiers wore or carried it because they believed it was an all seeing eye hence would keep them safe.

Tigers eye 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.  It 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 an emotional level the healing properties of tigers helps with full revitalisation.  It balances yin and yang energies, lifts low mood and protects against negative thoughts.

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

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