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by Mary Beth Magee
Stories of cat's eye gemstones hearken back to antiquity. The gem intrigues and entrances with its casual wink. Sometimes confused with other stones, true cat's eye is fairly rare. Cat's eye is chatoyant, possessing an iridescence that changes the way the stone appears as the viewer's perspective shifts. Peices of cat's eye jewelry, such as cat's eye rings, bracelets and necklaces are beautiful additions to any outfit.
Identification: True cat's eye gems are one of three types of the gem chrysoberyl, a stone formed of aluminum oxide containing beryllium. The finest examples are honey or golden colored with the cat's eye, scientifically referred to as chatoyancy, crossing the height of the stone. Other gems may occasionally display a specimen with cat's eye characteristics, but they will be described with the actual name of the stone appended to the "cat's eye" name. Chrysoberyl has an 8.5 rating on the Mohs scale of hardness, making it a tough and durable stone and well-suited for use in jewelry of all varieties, particularly cat's eye rings.
Cuts: The most popular cat's eye jewelry cuts are cabochons and beads. A cabochon is a domed, polished cut devoid of facets. Cabochon cuts are common for gemstone jewelry with opaque stones such as the cat's eye. A cabochon cut is a great way to allow the inclusions in the cat's eye to reflect light, creating the winking chatoyancy.
Uses: Chrysoberyl is not considered a birthstone, but cat's eye jewelry is the traditional 18th anniversary gift. The flirtatious quality of the stone works well in rings, earrings and pendants. Cat's eye gems are also popular in masculine jewelry, including men's rings, tie tacks and cuff links. Historically, cat's eye was thought to protect the wearer and bring good fortune. In legend and lore, it's said to enhance vision and foresight for the owner.
Care: Clean cat's eye jewelry with a polishing cloth. Harsh chemicals may damage the chatoyant quality of the stone, so remove your cat's eye jewelry before using household cleaning products and other chemicals. Cat's eye is a hard gemstone, but it is not invincible. You will want to protect your investment by keeping your gemstone jewelry safe from blows and damage.
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