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A brilliantly transparent gem, sphene has fire greater than that of diamond! This gem is named from the Greek word for "wedge," as its crystals are typically wedge shaped, but may be referred to by its mineral name, titanite. On rare instances, sphene may be brown or black in color, but is mainly found in a range of green to yellowish green colors. Another characteristic sphene possesses is birefringence, or double 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 the gem a soft, hazy appearance, similar to the doubling seen in zircon.

Sphene Polished
Sphene Classification
Common Name Sphene
Species Titanite
Sphene Optical Properties
Transparency Opaque-Translucent
Dispersion Strength: Strong Fire Value: 0.051
Refractive Index Over The Limit 1.843-2.110 Tolerance: (+0.020/-0.020)
Birefringence 0.100- 0.160
Optic Character Biaxial
Optic Sign Positive
Polariscope Reaction Doubly Refractive (DR)
Fluorescence SWUV: Inert
LWUV: Inert
Pleochroism Trichroic, (in green gems) strong greenish yellow, yellow to brown, and colorless; (in brown gems) strong yellow, reddish-orange, and brownish yellow and brownish orange, (in yellow gems) moderate to strong greenish yellow, brownish-orange, and colorless
Sphene Characteristic Physical Properties
Hardness 5-5.5
Streak White
Specific Gravity 3.500-3.540 Typical:3.520
Toughness Fair
Inclusions Sphene occasionally contain tiny crystals that aline in straight rows or "feathers", natural inclusions, actinolite needles and twinning is common. Stones have strong dispersion and eye-visible doubling.
Luster SubAdamantine, Resinous, Adamantine
Fracture Conchoidal, Subconchoidal, Splintery
Cleavage Good, in one direction
Sphene Chemistry & Crystallography
Chemical Name calcium titanium silicate
Chemical Formula CaTiSiO5
Crystal System Monoclinic
Chemistry Classification Silicate

Sphene Colors

  • Yellow Sphene Yellow
  • Orange Sphene Orange
  • Multi-color Sphene Multi-color
  • Brown Sphene Brown
  • Black Sphene Black
  • Gray Sphene Gray
  • Colorless Sphene Colorless
  • Green Sphene Green

Alternate Names

Titanite, Chrome Sphene

Countries of Origin

Tanzania, United Republic Of; Myanmar; United States of America (the); Sri Lanka; Madagascar; Thailand; Switzerland; India; Canada; Austria; Pakistan; Namibia; Brazil; Mexico


Sphene is a soft stone, so be mindful of scratching.

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Tim Matthews


Tim Matthews

Tim Matthews is President and Chief Executive Officer of Jewelry Television® (JTV), as well as a member of the company's Board of Directors. He oversees and leads all aspects of the company's powerful omni-digital retail platform that uniquely specializes in fine jewelry and gemstones. His passion for business and gemstones has led him to become a recognized expert in the field of gemology. He is a life member of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) and has earned Gem-A's highest degrees, the Gemmology (FGA) and Diamond (DGA) diplomas. He is also a Graduate Gemologist (GG) of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and has also completed GIA's Graduate Diplomas in Diamonds, Colored Stones and Pearls. Under his leadership, JTV has become the leader in the sourcing and selling of color gemstones and jewelry.

This page was created on June 27, 2014.

This page was last edited on October 24, 2019.