Sphalerite

Big Photo

Spain
17.78 carats
© Mineral Classics

Sphalerite is named after Greek word for "mistaken", because the mineral was often mistaken for galena, but contained no lead.

Sphalerite forms clear crystals with colours ranging from pale yellow to orange and red shades, with the presence of iron it forms dark, opaque metallic crystals.

Gem-quality material often has yellowish to honey brown, red to orange, or green colour. The brilliant cut best displays sphalerite's high dispersion of 0.156 (three times as high as for diamond). Because of its softness and fragility sphalerite gems are usually used as collector's pieces and sometomes set into pendants.

Sphalerite Gemstones by Colour

This table shows the variety of hues this gemstone can be found in. Click on a photo for more information.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sphalerite Gemstones by Size

This table shows distribution of Sphalerite gemstone sizes that are listed on this site. This can give a good indication as to the general availability of this gemstone in different sizes.
Contributed photos
Lightest:0.54 cts
Heaviest:351.52 cts
Average:23.53 cts
Total photos:65
Do you have a larger Sphalerite? Why not upload a photo?
0.54ct to 35.64ct35.64ct to 70.74ct70.74ct to 105.83ct105.83ct to 140.93ct140.93ct to 176.03ct176.03ct to 211.13ct211.13ct to 246.23ct246.23ct to 281.32ct281.32ct to 316.42ct316.42ct to 351.52ct
General Information
Chemical Formula
(Zn,Fe)S
Michael O’Donoghue, Gems, Sixth Edition (2006)
More from other references
Photos of natural/un-cut material from mindat.org
Synthetic Sphalerite
Synthetic sphalerite - ZnS; Isometric; Colourless, green, yellow; Transparent; Hardness 3-4; RI 2.25 - 2.35; Opt. isotropic; SG 4.03 - 4.09 - Gemmological Tables, Ulrich Henn and Claudio C. Milisenda, 2004, p 30
Physical Properties of Sphalerite
Mohs Hardness3.5 to 4
Herve Nicolas Lazzarelli, Blue Chart Gem Identification (2010)
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Specific Gravity3.95 to 4.10
Herve Nicolas Lazzarelli, Blue Chart Gem Identification (2010)
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TenacityBrittle
Walter Schumann, Gemstones of the world (2001)
Cleavage QualityPerfect
Herve Nicolas Lazzarelli, Blue Chart Gem Identification (2010)
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FractureUneven
Walter Schumann, Gemstones of the world (2001)
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Optical Properties of Sphalerite
Refractive Index2.368 to 2.371
Herve Nicolas Lazzarelli, Blue Chart Gem Identification (2010)
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Optical CharacterIsotropic
Ulrich Henn and Claudio C. Milisenda, Gemmological Tables (2004)
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BirefringenceNone
Walter Schumann, Gemstones of the world (2001)
PleochroismAbsent
Walter Schumann, Gemstones of the world (2001)
DispersionVery strong
Herve Nicolas Lazzarelli, Blue Chart Gem Identification (2010)
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ChatoyancyYes
Herve Nicolas Lazzarelli, Blue Chart Gem Identification (2010)
Colour
Colour (General)Opaque: black, gray-brown, cinnamon-colour. Translucent to transparent: yellow, yellow-green, green, red-yellow, yellowish-brown
Ulrich Henn and Claudio C. Milisenda, Gemmological Tables (2004)
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Causes of ColourYellow to black, iron sulfur charge transfer. Green, Co2+ in tetrahedral coordination
W. William Hanneman, Pragmatic Spectroscopy For Gemologists (2011)
TransparencyTransparent,Translucent,Opaque
Ulrich Henn and Claudio C. Milisenda, Gemmological Tables (2004)
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LustreAdamantine,Greasy
Walter Schumann, Gemstones of the world (2001)
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Fluorescence & other light emissions
Fluorescence (General)Inert to strong orangy red
Herve Nicolas Lazzarelli, Blue Chart Gem Identification (2010)
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Crystallography of Sphalerite
Crystal SystemIsometric
Herve Nicolas Lazzarelli, Blue Chart Gem Identification (2010)
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HabitTetrahedral, dodecahedral
Michael O’Donoghue, Gems, Sixth Edition (2006)
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Geological Environment
Where found:Sphalerite occurs in a variety of hydrothermal conditions and is the chief ore of zinc.
Michael O’Donoghue, Gems, Sixth Edition (2006)
Further Information
Mineral information:Sphalerite information at mindat.org
Significant Gem Localities
Bulgaria
 
  • Smolyan Oblast
    • Rhodope Mts
mindat.org
China
 
  • Hunan Province
    • Chenzhou Prefecture
      • Rucheng Co.
        • Nuanshui
          • Caojia
mindat.org
Peru
 
  • Junín Department
    • Yauli Province
      • Morococha District
Spain
 
  • Cantabria
    • Camaleño
mindat.org
Copyright © Jolyon & Katya Ralph 1993-2017. Site Map. Locality, gem & photograph data are the copyright of the individuals who submitted them. For more information please contact the . Gemdat.org is an online information resource dedicated to providing free gemmological information to all.