WHAT ARE TIGER’S EYE BEADS?
It’s not hard to see how tiger’s eye gemstone got their name. The beads and cabochons in particular are cut to show off the distinctive stripes and the cat’s eye effect or chatoyancy (French chat = cat, oeil = eye). The shimmery optical effect can be seen when the gemstones are moved from side to side.
Tiger’s eye is a kind of quartz which is typically silky gold-yellow or gold-brown in color. The quartz family includes other gemstones like amethyst, aventurine, quartz cat’s eye, citrine, rose quartz and rock crystal. A closely related gemstone, and one which is similar, is hawk’s eye or falcon’s eye which has a much darker bluish-black color. Note that red tiger’s eye beads do not display a natural color – these gemstones are dyed.
Tiger’s eye deposits are found around the world, notably in South Africa, Australia, India, Myanmar, Namibia and California. There are also other forms of tiger’s eye such as tiger iron which is a rock which contains mainly of tiger’s eye, red jasper and black hematite. Tiger’s eye should not be confused with Arizona tiger’s eye – the latter, also known as Arizona pietersite, has the similar chatoyant effect but is actually serpentine.
This gemstone has a Mohs’ hardness of around 7 which means it is moderately hard. Tiger’s eye is great for jewelry making as it is attractive, versatile and relatively inexpensive.