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This month's stone profile:



a.k.a.:  titanite
Refractive Index:  1.84-2.03 Crystal Structure: Monoclinic


Hardness:  5 Specific Gravity:  3.53


Chemical Composition:  Calcium titanium silicate Occurrences:  Mexico, Brazil, Canada and Madagascar

Though well known by collectors, sphene has only recently come onto the radar of many jewelry consumers.  As retailers are faced with stiffer competition for the next gemstone trends, we have begun to see stones once thought unsuitable for jewelry applications being set and actively promoted.  Couple this with a dramatic increase in supply over the last decade from Madagascar and you have the emergence of sphene's popularity.

With a dispersion greater than that of diamond, sphene certainly carries a dramatic flash for a natural material.  It is strongly doubly refractive (clearly visible as doubling of the facets in the above photo) but is limited in use by its durability.  Sphene's now less common alternative name is titanite, a reference to its chemical composition.  Though usually some variation on yellowish-green or brown, sphene is also rarely found in a pure saturated green that is usually referred to as 'chrome' sphene. 

Appreciation, and thus demand, for sphene has definitely seen an upswing and production has been pressured to keep up.  That makes an ideal situation for prices to rise, so stay tuned.