Monday, October 18, 2010

Mystery behind the chatoyant gemstone


"Chatoyance" is French for cat's-eye. When impurity minerals occur in fibers, they give gemstones a silky appearance. When the fibers line up along one of the crystalline axes, a stone can be cut to display a bright reflective line—a special effect called cat's-eye.

Pictured cat's eye chrysoberyl is also known as cymophane. The name being derived from the Greek words cyma and phanes, meaning “wave” and “appearance.” Microscopic needle-like inclusions inside the stone reflect a streak of light known as the cat’s eye.

The cat's eye’s inclusions are aligned parallel to the crystallographic axis and they are always cut as cabochons with the fibrous need-like inclusions running across the narrow part of the stone as this is the only way to display the effect properly.

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