Cat's Eye Scapolite Gemstones

Cat's Eye Scapolite Gemstones
by Alice Koh
[For educational purpose only].

Scapolite is derived from the Greek word SKAPOS meaning Stick or Stem, referring to the long columnar formation of its crystal structure.

Cat's eye scapolite is of a sodium calcium aluminum silicate chemical formula. It occurs with a tetragonal, columnar crystal formation.

Cat's eye scapolite is typically greenish, gray or brown in colour but it is known to naturally occur in vibrant pink and violet. Bright honey-yellow is the most common colour for transparent scapolite. However Scapolite can also occur colourless, red and orange.

Cat's eye scapolite has a hardness ranging from 5.5 to 6 on the Mohs scale. It is transparent, translucent and opaque with a glass-like brilliant luster.

The chatoyant variety of scapolite is known as the cat's eye scapolite.

Chatoyancy is the optical phenomenon that resembles the slit-eye of a cat.

Cat's eye scapolite is extremely rare. Due to its rarity and lack of hardness, it is primarily a collector's gemstone.

Rainbow scapolite is another rare variety of scapolite which contains iridescent inclusions. These needle-like inclusions display a dazzling rainbow of colours.

Rainbow scapolite usually occurs in a colourless, transparent body colour, or a darker, translucent greyish body colour. This iridescence is best viewed under focused light. In some rare cases, rainbow scapolite may exhibit both iridescence and the cat's eye effect.

Another name for scapolite is 'Wernerite'. This term is often used to describe a strongly fluorescent form of scapolite especially the greenish-gray material from Quebec, Canada. The term Wernertite may also be used to describe minerals that possess chemical characteristics between those of meionite and marialite.

Diopside, plagioclase feldspar, olivine, peridot, petschite (purple scapolite from Tanzania), violet scapolite, rainbow scapolite and pink scapolite are the most popular and common trade names and mineral associations.

Other less known trade names and mineral associations include: Wernerite, 'pink moonstone', lavender cat's eye scapolite, violet cat's eye scapolite, pink cat's eye scapolite, mizzonite, dipyre, marialite and meionite.

Scapolite is closely related to diopside and olivine (peridot). It is also an alteration of plagioclase feldspar, so it shares similar traits with some varieties of feldspar.

Cat's eye scapolite is usually translucent. It displays a clear and distinct cat's eyes and this clear chatoyancy distinguishes it from other cat's eye gemstones.

It was in 1913 in the Mogok Stone Tract in Upper Burma that scapolite was first discovered.

Today, cat's eye scapolite is sourced from Tanzania, Canada, Norway, Italy, Mexico and the USA. Gemstone quality Scapolite have also been found in Brazil, Madagascar, Namibia, Kenya, Burma and Canada. Canada is known to produce a mottled variety of scapolite, closely associated with diopside. The Canadian material occurs opaque with mottled patterns and is often multicoloured. It has an especially strong level of fluorescence, which makes it quite easily identifiable.

Cat's eye scapolite is always cut en cabochon in order to produce the desirable cat's eye effect. Most cabochons are cut in oval and round shapes. Even though scapolite is rare in gem quality, you can find it in very large sizes.

Cat's eye scapolite is not treated or enhanced in any way, with the exception of some pink to lavender coloured scapolite stones. These are heat treated to enhance its colour. However, these colours tend to fade upon exposure to heat and light, especially in the heated purple scapolite stones. Natural occurring purple to violet scapolite does not fade in colour.

Owing to its wide variety of colour occurrences, cat's eye scapolite carry a very powerful energy.

Scapolite is known as The Stone for Problem Solving and cat's eye in particular is believed to help you solve past and present problems. It gives inspiration and promotes change and a purpose in life to the wearer.

Rainbow scapolite with inclusions of magnetite (magnetite is a magnetic member of the spinel group), is believed to possess beneficial magnetic properties.

Due to its softness, it is recommended to use in jewellery such as cabochon earrings, pins, pendants or brooches.

You can clean your precious cat's eye scapolite using a soft cloth and a mild soap or detergent if needed. Be sure to rinse your gemstone well in order to remove soapy residue and you can dry them using a soft cloth. Store them away from other harder gemstones and jewellery to prevent scratches.