Tiger's eye

This article is about the gemstone. For the characters in the Sailor Moon series, see Amazon Trio.
Tiger's eye

A photograph showing a polished reddish brown stone which is bisected by a band containing golden fibers

Polished tiger's eye gemstone
Category Mineral
(repeating unit)
Silica (silicon dioxide, SiO2)
Colour golden to red-brown
Mohs scale hardness 5.5 - 6
Luster Silky
Specific gravity 2.64 – 2.71

Tiger's eye (also called tiger eye) is a chatoyant gemstone that is usually a metamorphic rock that is a golden to red-brown colour, with a silky lustre. 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]

Cut, treatment and imitation

"Photograph of a chunk of rock containing horizontal bands which contain golden fibers which are positioned vertically within the bands"
Unpolished tiger eye from South Africa
"Photograph of a polished ovoid stone with bands containing shimmering golden fibers"
Oval shape tiger's eye with iron stripes

The gems are usually cut en cabochon in order to best display their chatoyancy. Red stones are brought about through gentle heat treatment. Dark stones have had their colours improved and been artificially lightened using nitric acid treatments.[3]

Honey-colored stones have been used to imitate the much higher valued cat's eye chrysoberyl (cymophane), but the overall effect is unconvincing. Artificial fibre optic glass is a common imitation of tiger's eye, and is produced in a wide range of colours. Tiger's eye comes primarily from South Africa and east Asia.

Tiger iron

"Photograph of the surface of a stone which shows horizontal alternating bands of red and black with a band of golden-colored fibers in a band across the center"
Tiger iron

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.[4] It is formed by the alteration of crocidolite.

Other forms of tiger's eye

"A photograph of a green stone with a pink fibrous band going across the surface diagonally"
Serpentine tiger's eye from Arizona

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.[5][6] 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.[7]


Common sources of tiger's eye include Australia, Burma, India, Namibia, South Africa, United States,[8] Brazil, Canada, China, Korea and Spain.

Cultural associations

In some parts of the world, the stone is believed to ward off the evil eye. [9]


  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. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(2003)031<0323:NIOTOO>2.0.CO;2. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  3. O'Donoghue, Michael (1997). Synthetic, Imitation, and Treated Gemstones. Boston, Massachusetts: Butterworth-Heinemann. pp. 125–127. ISBN 0-7506-3173-2.
  4. Listing of SG of gems and gem simulants, Berkeley.edu
  5. Flagg, Arthur Leonard (1958). Mineralogical Journeys in Arizona. Scottsdale: F.H. Bitner. pp. 92–93.
  6. 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.
  7. Pietersite on Mindat.org
  8. Schumann, Walter (2009). Gemstones of the World (Fourth ed.). New York, New York: Sterling Publishing. p. 140. ISBN 978-1-4027-6829-3.
  9. The Encyclopedia of Superstitions By Richard Webster, p.257
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