If you think that sphene makes you sound like you have a speech impediment, you can always go for its alternative name: titanite. Either way there’s a good chance that you have never heard of this incredibly beautiful, unusual and lively stone. Sphene has more fire than a diamond; its dispersion – that is, its ability to separate white light into the colours of the spectrum – is higher than a diamond. This fire is obvious to the naked eye and is even more extreme under incandescent light. It is hard to describe the colour of this stone as it has strong pleochroism and will change colour according to the angle it’s being viewed but think autumn leaves, many-coloured and flashed through with oranges and yellows. Most sought after is a bright, chrome green. It’s hard to find it completely clean; it normally will have needles, mistiness and veils but this in no way detracts from the beauty of this most unusual stone. It’s soft – 5-5.5 Mohs, which means really it’s best for necklaces and earrings, maybe you could get away with an occasional use ring, especially if it’s in a protected setting, but do give it a go, you’ll be amazed.
Sphene was discovered in 1785 but not named until 1801, with the name deriving from the Greek word for ‘wedge’ – which is not the most romantic entymology, and also I’d have thought a name that applies to quite a lot of crystals! Its alternate name, titanate, derives from the presence of titanium in the mineral. It’s always been considered a bit of a collectors gem, due to its scarcity but if you’ve never used it, give it a try. It really is unique.
I currently have sphene rose cuts in 3mm-5mm including half sizes, and you can find it all by clicking here