Balloch Tiger’s Eye is a rare, yellow and golden brown banded gemstone from South Africa’s Balloch Mine. Named for its resemblance to the eye of a tiger, Balloch Tiger’s Eye is prized for its exceptional quality.
The best known variety of Cat’s Eye or Chatoyant Quartz, Tiger’s Eye is also called Crocidolite Cat’s Eye or African Cat’s Eye. Derived from the French ‘oeil de chat’ (cat’s eye), Chatoyancy appears as a single bright reflective line of light, similar to a cat’s eye. Chatoyancy is created by the reflection of light from long needle-shaped inclusions occurring in a parallel arrangement.
Named for its resemblance to the eye of a tiger, Tiger’s Eye is a pseudomorph (one mineral replaces another) where oriented fibers of Crocidolite have been replaced by Silica creating the cat’s eye effect, with iron-oxide providing the stripes. Prized for its exceptional quality, Balloch Tiger’s Eye displays beautiful, alternating rich yellow and golden brown stripes with a fine golden luster. Deft lapidary is absolutely critical for Tiger’s Eye as the raw crystals rarely reveal the beautiful chatoyancy displayed in finished gems. The chatoyancy of Tiger’s Eye is dependent on being cut ‘en cabochon’ (cut in convex form and highly polished, but not faceted) with the fibers parallel to the base and is most visible in a direct, single beam of light. Displaying an excellent luster, Balloch Tiger’s Eye is carefully finished with a superior polish into attractive smooth domes with desirable proportions and symmetry by experienced lapidaries.
Varieties include Bull’s Eye (reddish-brown) also known as Cherry Tiger’s Eye, Hawk’s Eye (bluish-green) also known as Falcon’s Eye, and Tiger Iron, Australian Tiger’s Eye with Hematite and Jasper bands. Coveted since antiquity, Tiger’s Eye was favored by Roman legionnaires for protection in battle. Today, Tiger’s Eye remains the quintessential ‘masculine’ gem and is a perennial favorite for signet rings and cuff links. Due to its appearance, Tiger’s Eye was once thought to be all seeing, offering protection during travel.
The modern name Quartz is derived from the Saxon word ‘querklufterz’, meaning cross-vein-ore. Despite its appearance, Balloch Tiger’s Eye is actually a variety of macrocrystalline (large crystal) Quartz, a group which also includes Amethyst, Citrine, Lavender Quartz, Madagascan Rose Quartz, and Tibetan Quartz. Cryptocrystalline (small crystal) Quartz gemstones include Agate, Chalcedony, Jasper, and Onyx.
While Tiger’s Eye is predominately mined in South Africa, it is also found in Australia, Brazil, India, Namibia, Sri Lanka and the US. Balloch Tiger’s Eye is from the Balloch Mine in the Pixley ka Seme District of South Africa’s Northern Cape Province.
Established around 1995, the Balloch Mine is noted for producing Tiger’s Eye of a fine quality. The most popular Cat’s Eye Quartz and one of the world’s most coveted gemstones, Balloch Tiger’s Eye of a high quality is challenging to consistently obtain, with larger gems being more expensive.
Durability & Care
Balloch Tiger’s Eye is a durable gemstone (Mohs’ Hardness: 6.5 – 7) well-suited to everyday wear. Always store Balloch Tiger’s Eye carefully to avoid scuffs and scratches. Clean with gentle soap and lukewarm water, scrubbing behind the gem with a very soft toothbrush as necessary. After cleaning, pat dry with a soft towel or chamois cloth.