In gemology, chatoyancy (pronounced /ʃəˈtɔɪ.ənsiː/, shə-TOY-ən-see), or chatoyance, is an optical reflectance effect seen in certain gemstones. Coined from the French "œil de chat," meaning "cat's eye," chatoyancy arises either from the fibrous structure of a material, as in tiger eye quartz, or from fibrous inclusions or cavities within the stone, as in cat's eye chrysoberyl. The effect can be likened to the sheen off a spool of silk: The luminous streak of reflected light is always perpendicular to the direction of the fibres. For a gemstone to show this effect best it must be cut en cabochon, with the fibers or fibrous structures parallel to the base of the finished stone. Faceted stones are less likely to show the effect well.
Photograph: Anfilofio L Bastos.