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Gemspedia >> Gems >> Introduction to Gemstones >> Sphene

Sphene

SPHENE

Fire greater than diamond

Major Sources

Brazil, Madagascar, Mexico, Pakistan & Sri Lanka

Colors Found

Yellowish green

Family

Sphene: CaTiSiO5

Hardness

5 to 5.5

Refractive Index

1.84–2.11; Biaxial (+)

Specific Gravity

3.52–3.54

Crystal System

Triclinic

Enhancements

Natural

Sphene is named after the Greek word for wedge, because its crystals are typically wedge shaped. As it contains titanium, sphene is also sometimes referred to by its mineral name, titanite.


One of the world’s newest and rarest gems, sphene possesses the rather unusual ability to take a beam of light and break it into all of the spectral colors, a feature gemologically referred to as fire or dispersion. In this regard sphene is superior to diamond. This combined with its strong pleochroism (different colors are displayed when the gemstone is viewed from different angles) has the effect of making the gem appear to change color.

 

Occasionally pink, black or chocolate, most sphene is predominantly green or yellowish-green, with just about every other color of the rainbow displayed by its intense fiery brilliance.

 

Just the facts

These are gorgeously brilliant, fiery gems that have a higher dispersion (fire) than diamonds.

 

Sphene’s magnificent fire, unique color shades, strong pleochroism, adamantine (diamond-like) luster and double refraction (birefringence) make it ideal for earrings and pendants that catch the light, displaying its sparkling qualities to full effect. A unique characteristic of sphene is birefringence (doube refraction), meaning that light splits into two rays as it passes through the gem. As a result, the back facets appear as double images, giving it a beautiful soft hazy appearance similar to the doubling seen in zircon.

 

If well polished the luster can approach or equal that of diamond, but sphene is notoriously difficult to polish well. A well polished sphene is testament to an experienced jewelr. At Paraiba Gems we always take great care to ensure that our sphene is finished in a manner that maximizes its intense natural beauty. Sphene larger than a few carats without inclusions is extremely scarce.


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