Tiger's eye

Tiger's eye (also called tiger eye) is a chatoyant gemstone that is usually a metamorphic rock with a golden to red-brown colour and a silky lustre. As members of the quartz group, tiger's eye and the related blue-coloured mineral hawk's eye gain their silky, lustrous appearance from the parallel intergrowth of quartz crystals and altered amphibole fibres that have mostly turned into limonite.[1][2]

Tiger's eye
(repeating unit)
Silica (silicon dioxide, SiO2)
Colourgolden to red-brown
Mohs scale hardness5.5–6
Specific gravity2.64–2.71

Other forms of tiger's eye

Tiger iron is an altered rock composed chiefly of tiger's eye, red jasper and black hematite. The undulating, contrasting bands of colour and lustre make for an attractive motif and it is mainly used for jewellery-making and ornamentation. Tiger iron is a popular ornamental material used in a variety of applications, from beads to knife hilts.

Tiger iron is mined primarily in South Africa and Western Australia. Tiger's eye is composed chiefly of silicon dioxide (SiO2) and is coloured mainly by iron oxide. The specific gravity ranges from 2.64 to 2.71.[3] It is formed by the alteration of crocidolite.

Serpentine deposits in which are occasionally found chatoyant bands of chrysotile fibres have been found in the US states of Arizona and California. These have been cut and sold as "Arizona tiger-eye" and "California tiger's eye" gemstones.[4][5] The trade name of pietersite is used for a fractured or brecciated chalcedony containing amphibole fibers and promoted as tiger's eye from Namibia and China.[6]


Common sources of tiger's eye include Australia, Burma, India, Namibia, South Africa, the United States,[7] Brazil, Canada, China, Korea and Spain.

Cultural associations

In some parts of the world, the stone is believed to ward off the evil eye. [8]

Cut, treatment and imitation

Gems are usually given a cabochon cut to best display their chatoyance. Red stones are developed by gentle heat treatments. Dark stones are artificially lightened to improve colour using a nitric acid treatment.[9]

Honey-coloured stones have been used to imitate the more valued cat's eye chrysoberyl (cymophane), but the overall effect is often unconvincing. Artificial fibre optic glass is a common imitation of tiger's eye, and is produced in a wide range of colours.


  1. "Tiger's Eye". mindat.org. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  2. Heaney, Peter; Fisher, Donald (April 2003). "New interpretation of the origin of tiger's-eye". Geology. 31 (4): 323–326. Bibcode:2003Geo....31..323H. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(2003)031<0323:NIOTOO>2.0.CO;2.
  3. Listing of SG of gems and gem simulants Archived 2006-09-04 at the Wayback Machine, Berkeley.edu
  4. Flagg, Arthur Leonard (1958). Mineralogical Journeys in Arizona. Scottsdale: F.H. Bitner. pp. 92–93.
  5. USGS (1908–1909). "Cat's Eye or Tiger-Eye". Mineral Resources of the United States / Department of the Interior, United States Geological Survey. Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office. 2: 802.
  6. Pietersite on Mindat.org
  7. Schumann, Walter (2009). Gemstones of the World (Fourth ed.). New York, New York: Sterling Publishing. p. 140. ISBN 978-1-4027-6829-3.
  8. The Encyclopedia of Superstitions By Richard Webster, p.257
  9. O'Donoghue, Michael (1997). Synthetic, Imitation, and Treated Gemstones. Boston, Massachusetts: Butterworth-Heinemann. pp. 125–127. ISBN 0-7506-3173-2.
  • New interpretation of the origin of tiger's-eye: Comment and Reply
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