Cat's Eye Beads

Written by Sarah Provost
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Cat's eye beads can either be made of natural minerals or manufactured glass. They are called "cat's eye" because they have a band of shinier material running through the middle, which reflects light variably and appears to be a lighter color. When this occurs naturally in a mineral, it is described by the lovely word "chatoyancy."

Chatoyancy is caused by hundreds of tiny, parallel fibers of quartz, which are embedded in the mineral, causing that section to change color as it reflects light. Chyrsoberyl is the mineral known simply as Cat's Eye. Other minerals, blue, green or topaz, are described by their color. Natural Cat's Eye beads are often used as charms, since they have been associated with good fortune since ancient times.

Cat's Eye Glass Beads

Cat's Eye glass beads are sometimes referred to as "fiber-optic" beads. The quartz fibers are embedded in a glass bead as it is being formed. These beads come in a full spectrum of colors and a wide variety of shapes. Cat's Eye is also widely used for pendants. Finishes can be shiny or matte. I have even seen faceted Cat's Eyes, though that seems to me to be counterproductive.

Manufactured Cat's Eye beads are graded, so be certain that you are purchasing Grade A beads. Cat's Eye tends to be fragile. It's a good idea to wrap your tools with masking tape when you are working with them, and to protect them from sharp impact when wearing them.


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