true cat's-eye is a rare variety of the chrysoberyl, of extreme
hardness (in this respect being only inferior to the diamond and the
sapphire), and is characterized by possessing a remarkable play of
light in a certain direction, resulting it is supposed from a
peculiarity in its crystallization. This ray of light, or " line," as
it is improperly termed by jewellers, shines in fine and well-polished
specimens with a phosphorescent lustre.
cat's-eye comes principally from Ceylon, where it is found with
sapphires, ar.d is met with of various colours, ranging from pale
straw-colour through all shades of brown, and from very pale
apple-green to the deepest olive. Some,specimens, much sought for by
Americans, are almost black. The line, however, no matter what ground
colour the stone may possess, is always white, and more or less
iridescent. This lustre is most beautiful when seen in full sun-light,
or by gas-light, when the line becomes more defined and vivid.
gem is valued principally according to the perfection and brilliancy of
the line, which should be well-defined, not very broad, and should run
pvenly from end to end across the middle of the stone. The colour does
not influence the value much, some jewellers preferring one tint, some
another. On the whole, perhaps the most popular colours are the clear
apple-green and dark olive : both of these form a splendid background,
and contrist well with the line. It is quite impossible to give any
satisfactory scale of values for this gem. Its estimation depends much
on personal appreciation and taste : a ring-stone may be worth from £10 to £100, or even more: and there are large specimens at present in the market which are worth upwards of ,£1,000.
The cat's-eye has become more and more fashionable of late years in Europe, and its value has greatly increased.
In India it has always been much prized, and is held in peculiar
veneration as a charm against witchcraft, and is the last jewel a
Sinhalese will part with. The specimens most esteemed by the Indians
are those of a dark olive colour, having the ray so bright on each edge
as to appear double. It is indeed wonderfully beautiful with its soft,
deep colour, and mysterious gleaming streak ever shifting, like a
restless spirit, from side to side as the stone is moved; now glowing
at one spot, now at another. No wonder that an imaginative and
superstitious people regard it with awe and wonder, and, believing it
the abode of some genii, dedicate it to their gods as a sacred stone.
Star-Stones, or Asteria,
The Orientals had, and still have, a deep veneration for star sapphires.
The localities of star-stones are the same as those of other sapphire crystals.
light shines upon these stones, stars of six rays are seen, an
appearance which attracts much attention and gives proportionate
pleasure. This may be termed its speciality, and is more observable
when the stone is convex. The folour is a greyish-blue; occasionally
blue and red specimens are met with.