Cat’s eye danburite

cat's eye danburite

Cat’s eye danburite is a calcium boron silicate mineral with a chemical formula of CaB2(SiO4)2.

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Its name comes from Danbury, Connecticut, United States, where it was first discovered in 1839 by Charles Upham Shephard.

Danburite can occur in a variety of colors ranging from colorless to very light-pink and from light-yellow to brown. But typically only colorless danburite is ever faceted as a gemstone.

It has a Mohs hardness of 7 to 7.5 and also a specific gravity of 3.0. The mineral has also an orthorhombic crystal form. It is usually colourless, like quartz, but can also be either pale yellow or yellowish-brown. It typically occurs in contact metamorphic rocks.

The Dana classification of minerals categorizes danburite as a sorosilicate, while the Strunz classification scheme lists it as a tectosilicate. Both terms are correct.
Its crystal symmetry and form are similar to topaz; however, topaz is a calcium fluorine bearing nesosilicate. The clarity, resilience, and strong dispersion of danburite make it valuable as cut stones for jewelry.

Cat’s eye effect

In gemology, chatoyancy, also chatoyance or cat’s eye effect, is an optical reflectance effect visible in certain gemstones. Coined from the French “oeil de chat”, meaning “cat’s eye”, chatoyancy arises either from the fibrous structure of a material, as in cat’s eye tourmaline, or from fibrous inclusions or cavities within the stone, as in cat’s eye chrysoberyl. The precipitates that cause chatoyance are the needles. Examined samples have yielded no evidence of tubes or fibers.The needles precipitates all align perpendicularly with respect to cat’s eye effect. The lattice parameter of the needles matches only one of the three orthorhombic crystal axes of the chrysoberyl, as a result of an alignment along that direction.

The phenomenon resembles the brilliance of a silk spool. The luminous streak of reflected light is always perpendicular to the direction of the fibres. For a gemstone to show this effect better, the shape must be a cabochon. Round with a flat base, rather than faceted, with the fibers or fibrous structures parallel to the base of the finished gem. The best finished specimens show a single sharply. A band of light that moves across the stone when it turns. Chatoyant stones of lesser quality display a banded effect as is typical with cat’s-eye varieties of quartz. Faceted stones do not show the effect well.

Cat’s eye damburite from Madagascar


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