Officially this mineral is named titanite, after the presence of titanium in it. However when used as a gemstone it is usually referred to as sphene.
It can be found in a range of colors, usually they are red, yellow or green, though brown and grey are possible as well. Owing to their high dispersion the fire of sphene stones even in rough form can be quite high.
When cut the play of color becomes even more apparent, easily surpassing that of almost all gemstones including diamonds.
Hardness and Toughness
Sphene has a hardness of 5 to 5.5 on Mohs hardness scale and is fairly brittle. This makes it not as suitable for use in gemstone jewelry as most of the better known gemstones like tanzanite or moissanite. If you simply must own one of these gemstones, and I can’t blame you, be sure to buy a sphene pendant, necklace or earrings.
Taking Care of Your Sphene Gemstones
Sphene should be cared for properly because it is fairly soft and brittle. The tips below will help you provide that care.
- Physical labor should be avoided when wearing sphene jewelry. Though not very likely to chip or shatter tiny scratches will eventually dull the stone making it necessary to get it repolished.
- Cleaning is best done by hand, lukewarm water and a mild soap should usually be enough. A soft brush can be used if more cleaning power is needed. Dry it with a soft cloth and air it for a few minutes before you store or wear it.
- Jewelry steam cleaners and ultrasonic jewelry cleaners should not be used because sphene is slightly sensitive to heat and chemicals. The ultrasonic waves could damage the gemstone as well, because it is fairly brittle.
- Sphene should be stored in a separate compartment, as it can be scratched by most faceted gemstones.
- Because certain chemicals in makeup, deodorant and perfumes can react with sphene you should only put your jewelry on when you are ready to head out the door. The reactions are not extreme, but they certainly can dull a gemstone over time.