cat's eye chrysoberyl - Sri Lankacat's eye chrysoberyl - Sri Lanka

Chrysoberyl Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

Although many gems show a cat’s eye effect, when the term “cat’s eye” is used alone, it always refers to the rare gemstone chrysoberyl. Both chatoyant and non-chatoyant chrysoberyls can make wonderful jewelry stones.

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Many different minerals can produce cat’s eye gems, but when the term “cat’s eye” is used alone it always refers to the rare gemstone chrysoberyl. Chatoyant chrysoberyls are cut into cabochons to best display their spectacular eyes. However, not all chrysoberyls show this chatoyant effect. Transparent to translucent chrysoberyl without a cat’s eye can make a wonderful faceted stone.

cat's eye chrysoberyl - Sri Lanka
Chrysoberyl: cat's eye, Sri Lanka (~ 5). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

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Chrysoberyl Value

In this video, Jake Talve-Goodman of The Concierge Gemologist introduces viewers to the world of chrysoberyl, including beautiful cat's eye and rare, color-changing alexandrite varieties.

Does Chrysoberyl Make a Good Jewelry Stone?

All varieties of chrysoberyl can make prized and durable stones for any kind of jewelry setting.

The transparent variety of chrysoberyl makes a handsome faceted gem. With indistinct cleavage and hardness of 8.5, it's one of the toughest stones for jewelry purposes. In general, the bright yellow and yellow-green shades are the most desirable colors, but some of the browns are also striking. Properly cut gems are very brilliant, although they lack fire due to low dispersion. Chrysoberyls from Australia have such unusually high refractive indices they could be misidentified as yellow-brown sapphires.

chrysoberyls - faceted
Chrysoberyls: Sri Lanka (7.80, 6.19, 7.51, 7.04) // Brazil (11.84), Sri Lanka (13.25, 9.30 //21.30) Brazil (11.49), Sri Lanka (12.02). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Chatoyant or cat's eye chrysoberyls are cabbed to display their spectacular eyes.

Despite chrysoberyl's durability, gem cutters should take care when working with this material because it has some sensitivity to knocks and extreme heat. However, these sensitivities don't apply to normal jewelry wear.

Chrysoberyl - Radiant Cut
Yellow-green radiant-cut chrysoberyl, 2.77 cts. © All That Glitters. Used with permission.

Are Alexandrites Chrysoberyls?

Alexandrite is a color-change variety of chrysoberyl. For gemological information about this variety, see our alexandrite gem listing. Additionally, consult our alexandrite buying guide for information about evaluating this very rare and expensive gemstone.

What is a Cat's Eye Chrysoberyl?

Cat's eye chrysoberyls show a sharp "eye" that looks like a cat's pupil. Known as chatoyancy, this effect can also appear in other gem species. Nevertheless, the effect is so pronounced in chrysoberyls that chatoyant chrysoberyls are often simply called "cat's eyes."

Jake Talve-Goodman of The Concierge Gemologist discusses cat's eye chrysoberyls and shows many spectacular examples of these gemstones.

Cat's eye chrysoberyl is also known as cymophane. That name comes from a Greek word meaning "appearing like a wave," alluding to the opalescent, hazy appearance of the surface of some cat's eye crystals. However, the eye of a chatoyant chrysoberyl is the sharpest of any cat's eye gemstone.

What Causes the Cat's Eye Effect in Chrysoberyls?

Fine silk inclusions create the cat's eye effect in chrysoberyls. However, seeing these fibers requires a microscope.

cat's eye cabochon
Cat's eye chrysoberyl, ~1 ct. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

What is the "Milk and Honey" Effect in Chrysoberyls?

The eye in a chrysoberyl cat's eye often has a shimmering blue tone. However, the optimum color for these stones is a honey brown. When light obliquely strikes such a stone, it usually creates a shadow effect within the gem. The side away from the light is a rich brown, while the side facing the light is yellowish white. This so-called "milk and honey" look is characteristic of the finest cat's eyes. In stones over 20 carats, this look can result in very high values.

  • cat's eye chrysoberyl cab - Sri Lanka
  • cat's eye chrysoberyl,

    This greenish yellow chrysoberyl shows a very sharp cat's eye as well as the "milk and honey" effect. 1.16 cts, 6 x 5.5 mm, oval cabochon, Sri Lanka. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

    What is a Star Chrysoberyl?

    Some chrysoberyls show a four-ray cross or star effect known as asterism. These "star chrysoberyls" or "star stones" are very rare.

    star chrysoberyl - Sri Lanka
    This very rare chrysoberyl star stone also has a slight dark brownish/purplish green color change. 2.60 cts, 7.6 x 6.6 mm, oval cabochon, Sri Lanka. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

    What is Chrysolite?

    In the 19th century, yellow-green chrysoberyl was commonly known as chrysolite, a term also used to refer to peridot. The name "chrysolite" has since fallen out of use. Gemologists now recognize peridot and chrysoberyl as distinct gem species.

    Are Chrysoberyls and Beryls the Same Gemstone?

    Despite their names, beryl and chrysoberyl are distinct gem species, though they both include the rare element beryllium in their chemical makeup.

    Stackable Rings
    Stackable rings, chrysoberyl, rhodolite, spinel, and tourmaline. © Dan Stair Custom Gemstones. Used with permission.

    Are There Synthetic Chrysoberyls?

    Manufacturers have synthesized all varieties of chrysoberyls. Non-chatoyant chrysoberyl stones have been flux grown since the late 19th century. Laboratories have also used melt as well as hydrothermal creation processes.

    Cat's eyes have been synthesized since the 1970s and available commercially since the 1980s. As Robert E. Kane writes, gemologists can distinguish these synthetic chatoyant stones from their natural counterparts by the following characteristics:

    • their undulating needle inclusions (natural chrysoberyls have parallel needle inclusions)
    • a lack of other typical inclusions
    • a weak yellow fluorescence in shortwave ultraviolet light (1987)

    See the alexandrite gem listing for more information on the synthesis of that gemstone.

    Consult a professional gemological laboratory to distinguish synthetic from natural chrysoberyls.

    Do Chrysoberyls Receive Gem Treatments?

    Non-chatoyant chrysoberyls usually receive no treatments or enhancements. Rarely, cat's eyes receive dye, oil, or radiation treatments to enhance their colors.

    Where is Chrysoberyl Found?

    Notable sources of non-alexandrite, gem-quality chrysoberyls include the following:

    • Australia (Anakie, Queensland): yellow-green chrysoberyl.
    • Brazil (especially Jacuda, Bahia): fine facetable material; also cat's eyes.
    chrysoberyl - Brazil
    Chrysoberyl, Brazil (7.3). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.
    • India: cat's eyes with sillimanite fibers, from Kerala.
    • Myanmar: rarely colorless facetable chrysoberyl.
    • Sri Lanka: all types, some of the world's finest cat's eyes, faceting material all colors, rarely colorless.
    • USA: Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, South Dakota.
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo; Finland; Japan; Madagascar; Tanzania.
    chrysoberyl - Myanmar
    Colorless chrysoberyl crystal, 1.6 x 1.3 x 0.2 cm, Mogok, Sagaing District, Mandalay Division, Myanmar. © Rob Lavinsky, Used with permission.

    See the alexandrite gem listing for information on the sources of that particular variety.

    Chrysoberyl Stone Sizes

    Facetable non-chatoyant chrysoberyl rough occurs in sizes up to several hundred carats. Cat's eye rough of similar size has also been found.

    Faceted gems over 40-50 carats are very rare. The world's largest cut cat's eye is "The Eye of The Lion," a dark, greenish yellow 465-ct oval cabochon, cut from a piece of Sri Lankan rough weighing over 700 carats.

    The world's largest faceted chrysoberyl is a flawless 245-ct, slightly yellowish green oval-cut gem from Sri Lanka.

    • British Museum of Natural History (London): 29.4 (Sri Lanka, yellow-green); 45 (The Hope chrysoberyl, flawless oval cat's eye).
    • Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Ontario, Canada): 42.72 (Sri Lanka, chartreuse green)
    • American Museum of Natural History (New York): 74.4 (emerald cut, yellowish green, may be world's finest of this color).
    • Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC): cat's eyes: 171.5 (Sri Lanka, gray-green); 47.8 (Sri Lanka); 58.2 (The Maharani, Sri Lanka); faceted: 114.3 (Sri Lanka, yellow-green); 120.5 (Sri Lanka, green); 46.3 (Brazil, yellow-green); 31.7 (Sri Lanka, brown); 6.7 (Brazil, dark green star).
    Maharani chrysoberyl
    The Maharani cat's eye chrysoberyl, on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Photo by Tim Evanson. Licensed under CC By-SA 2.0.
    • Iranian Crown Jewels: 147.7 (Sri Lanka, chartreuse); 25 (gray-green cat's eye).
    • Private Collections: Cat's eyes up to 300 carats are in private collections. Stones reported include a flawed 185-ct yellow Brazilian gem; a superb 120-ct yellow Brazilian gem in a Japanese collection; and a 79.30-ct brown Sri Lankan oval and a 66.98-ct flawless yellow Brazilian stone in a U.S. collection.
    65-ct chrysoberyl, Sri Lanka. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

    How to Care for Chrysoberyl Jewelry

    Chrysoberyls require no special care. They can be cleaned mechanically, per the machine's instructions, or with warm, soapy water and a brush. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.

    chrysoberyls - Brazil
    Chrysoberyl cabochons from Minas Gerais, Brazil. Gem cutting by Afonso Marques. Photo by Eurico Zimbres. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

    Joel E. Arem, Ph.D., FGA

    Dr. Joel E. Arem has more than 60 years of experience in the world of gems and minerals. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Mineralogy from Harvard University, he has published numerous books that are still among the most widely used references and guidebooks on crystals, gems and minerals in the world.

    Co-founder and President of numerous organizations, Dr. Arem has enjoyed a lifelong career in mineralogy and gemology. He has been a Smithsonian scientist and Curator, a consultant to many well-known companies and institutions, and a prolific author and speaker. Although his main activities have been as a gem cutter and dealer, his focus has always been education.

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