Tigers eye which is sometimes referred to as tiger eye, is a well known mineral that's used primarily for lapidary purposes. Fine grade material can be highly chatoyant especially after having been polished. Chatoyancy is a fascinating optical phenomenon that's caused as light reflects from the within the mineral. The word originates from French meaning 'cat's eye'.
This popular material was named because its colours were said to resemble the colour of a tiger's eye. Yellow tigers eye which refers to the mainly brown stone tends to be the most popular and best known. It can however also occur in red, black and blue however the blue variety is better known as hawk's eye. The red and black varieties of tigers eye are produced through various heat treatments however blue coloured hawk's eye is completely natural.
In recent years concerns have been raised about the presence of asbestos fibres in tigers eye which although true, are well embedded and pose little or no threat. Tigers eye began life as fibrous blue crocidolite (better known as asbestos) which is made up of iron and sodium. Over time as the mineral quartz became embedded between the fibres of the crocidolite a transformation took place which resulted in either hawks eye or the more traditional brown tigers eye. During the transformation which took place over thousands of years, the asbestos completely dissolved and the quartz took on the fibrous formations which create the parallel lines within this stone. It's also the cause of the optical phenomenon known as chatoyancy.
Like all gemstones which resemble eyes when cut or polished, tigers eye is believed to be a powerful amulet. Roman soldiers wore or carried it because they believed it was an all seeing eye hence offered protection and even today tigers eye is still used for psychic protection.
When used in crystal healing tigers eye releases anxiety, fear and obsessiveness, it can also make emotions become more logical. It's said to be good for business success due to its ability to bring clarity and symbolizes willpower, confidence and assurance. It's a calming stone which can help relieve obstinate or stubborn behaviour and can als help reduce stress.
Tigers eye is a relatively hard stone which grades 7 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness. It's found in huge quantities in Western Australia in an area that's rich in iron. South Africa also has extensive reserves and most of the finest specimens come from Griqualand West.