It is difficult to describe the extraordinary colors of a sphene gemstone. The flashes of fiery orange in the depths of green are not unlike the burst of color in changing autumn leaves, or the first rays of sunlight across a field glittering with morning dew. Though not as well known as the sapphire or diamond, the sphene deserves an appreciation in its own right, for it is truly unique.
Sphene is the gemstone variety of the mineral titanite (named for its high titanium content). It falls around the middle of the Mohs hardness scale, at around 5 to 5.5. It ranges in color from a yellowish green to orange-brown. Eye-clean (no inclusions visible to the naked eye) chrome green and yellowish-green varieties are rare and the most desirable. It has a high pleochroism, meaning it displays color differently depending on the angle you view it from. The light dispersion of a sphene can rival even that of diamonds, resulting in a brilliant fire within the stone.
Sphene has been known since 1785 under its mineral name, however it wasn’t christened “sphene” until 1801 by French mineralogist Rene Just Hauy. The name derives from the Greek word for “wedge” in reference to the shape of its crystals. Both the names sphene and titanite continue to be used by mineralogists. The green color is caused by the presence of iron. Sphene can be found all over the world, including Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar, Kenya, Austria, Brazil, Mexico, and the USA. However, Madagascar is the primary source for the gem.
In the Hindu tradition, sphene is associated with the third eye, referred to as the Ajna chakra. This chakra concerns the mind and past lives. Some believe sphene to aid in mentality ability, such as learning new concepts or being creative, as well as organization and efficiency. Esoterically, sphene is believed to promote intuition and psychic ability, and to protect the wearer from negative energy.
Although mostly considered a collector’s gem, the sphene has a rare beauty that deserves more widespread admiration. Click the photos to learn more about the pieces you see here, and click here to shop Market Square Jewelers’ sphene collection!