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Apatite is a very common mineral, but transparent gemstone-quality apatite is extremely rare. Despite the fact that apatite is the defining mineral for 5 on Mohs scale of hardness, the gemstone remains virtually unknown to most, and is seldom found in jewelry stores. However, because apatite occurs in such a wide variety of attractive colors and forms, it is a favorite among gemstone collectors. The name 'apatite' was derived from a Greek word meaning 'cheat'. It was given its name because of its close resemblance to several other gemstones that are often more valuable. As a result, apatite became unfairly labeled as the 'deceitful stone'.
Apatite that exhibits chatoyancy, or a cat's eye effect, is rare and highly sought-after. Cat's eyes are cut en cabochon to bring out their desirable qualities. Chatoyancy is a rare optical phenomenon existing only in a handful of different gem types. It is distinguished by a unique light reflection that resembles the slit eye of a cat. The effect is caused by light reflection from parallel inclusions within a stone, typically rutile needles, fibers or channels. Cat's eye reflections are best viewed in strong and direct light; when the stone is rotated, the cat's eye will appear to glide across the surface.