Cat Eye or Cymophane

NamePropertiesHistory | Distinctions | MinesSuperstitions


Cat’s Eye is a commercial name of such variety of Chrysoberyl as Cymophane. This gemstone derived its name from the french word “chatoyancy,” that means literally a “cat’s eye.” Translating from French, this term signifying a changeable brilliance, similar to the visibility of cat’s eye in the darkness.

However, the name “Chrysoberyl” signify “Golden Beryl,” translated from Greek. It is also called in jewelry “Oriental Chrysolite.”

Consistence & Properties

Cat's Eye Gemstone or Cymophane

Chrysoberyl is a very hard gem, it’s hardness 8,5/10, according to the Mohs Scale. It is transparent to opaque. Thus, the best specimens of Cat’s Eye are next to Sapphire and Ruby in their hardness and near to the Diamond in their brilliancy.

Brief History

Cat’s Eye became popular in Europe, when the Duke of Connaught presented to his bride a ring with curious Oriental gemstone, similar in its brilliance to the eye of the animal. From now on, the Cat’s Eye rapidly came in vogue and each noble person wore it as a jewel.

Before 1815, the Cat’s Eye was unknown to a European audience, but, in turn, was famous in Oriental countries. Largest specimen, set in the crown of the King of Kandy (a region in Ceylon, modern Sri Lanka), and weighting 100 carats, can serve as an evidence.

Distinctions between Cat’s Eye, Chrysoberyl & Quartz Cat’s Eye

There are chiefly 3 varieties of Chrysoberyl, they are:

  • Ordinary Chrysoberyl (Oriental Chryslite)
  • Cat’s Eye or Cymophane (principally obtained in Sri Lanka)
  •  Alexandrite – the most valuable variety (Russian Chrysoberyl)

The Principal distinction of Cymophane is its chatoyancy, that follows every turn of gemstone, thanks to the greatest curvature of the surface and numerous of cavities inside it.

However, there is an inferior variety of this gemstone, so-called “Quartz Cat’s Eye.” This variety can be sold as “true Cat’s Eye.”

It is very easy to distinguish it from true Cat’s Eye, using these parameters:


  • The hardness of true Cat’s Eye is 8,5/10
  • Specific Gravity is 3,5 – 3,8


Chrysoberyl is mined principally in Brazil, more precisely in the Minas Novas district, where it’s variety Cat’s Eye occurs in abundance.

However, the first specimens of Cat’s Eye were discovered in Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) in Sapphire mines, chiefly in Suffragan district. The crystals of Cat’s Eye are also occurring in Russia, where they mined in the Ural Mountains. Another variety of Chrysoberyl, called Alexandrite (in honor of Russian Tzar) is also mined here.

Superstitions in regards to Cat’s Eye

This gemstone has been highly esteemed in India and Sri Lanka. It was a symbol of fortune, due to the belief, that a good spirit is inhabited inside each of that gemstones. According to Oriental legends, the Cat’s Eye served as a mascot against poverty, and therefore, brings wealth and prosperity.

Thanks for image to Cliff

June 23, 2018

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