Sphene / Titanite

Titanite, otherwise known as Sphene, is an interesting mineral which can occur in a few different colours.

Titanite is a minor ore of Titanium and is also rarely used for jewellery making.

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Appearance, Uses and History

Titanite is a little confusingly named. Prior to 1982, Sphene was the more commonly used name, but in 1982 the International Mineral Association chose the name ‘Titanite’ as the official name.

However, ‘Sphene’ is still a widely used name, and is sometimes used to refer to gemstone quality Titanite.

Titanite has high lustre and causes brilliant colours and interesting light forms – it is also highly pleochroic. However, it is quite soft, and quite brittle – so its use for jewellery is somewhat limited, although pieces are still faceted.

In industry, it is used as a form of Titanium Dioxide.


Locales

Specimens of Titanite can be found all around the world, although gem quality deposits are rarer.

Good quality specimens can be found in Afghanistan, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Madagascar, Morocco, Namibia, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, and the USA.


Mineralogy

Chemistry
Sphene is the name used to refer to the mineral Titanite. It is a Calcium titanium silicate, with the chemical formula CaTiSiO5.
Colours and Variations
Green, yellow, orange, brown tones are typical.
Streak
White
Luster
Adamantine
Fracture
Conchoidal.
Transparency
Transparent to translucent.
Crystal habit
Often occurs in angular wedge shaped crystals which are often striated. Twinning is common. May also be grainy or massive.
Mohs hardness
5 – 5.5
Specific Gravity
3.4 – 3.6
Fluorescence
N/A
Easiest testing method
Common Treatments
Mostly untreated, although some are heated.

Photos of Sphene / Titanite

Titanite-rom08a
Titanite-tuc1003a
Titanite-lc47a

Titanite-gem7-21a
Titanite-40526
Titanite cut

Titanite-157135
Titanite-163984
Titanite - Tormiq valley, Haramosh Mts, Pakistan

Hazards and Warnings

Almost all rocks, minerals (and, frankly, almost all other substances on earth) can produce toxic dust when cutting, which can cause serious respiratory conditions including silicosis.

When cutting or polishing rocks, minerals, shells, etc, all work should be done wet to minimise the dust, and a suitable respirator or extraction system should be used.


Translations

Arabic:

  • تيتانيت

Hindi:

Portuguese:

  • titanita
  • esfeno

Bengali:

Indonesian:

Punjabi:

English:

  • titanite
  • sphene

Italian:

Russian:

  • титанит

French:

  • sphène

Japanese:

  • スフェーン
  • タイタナイト

Spanish:

  • titanita
  • esfeno

German:

  • Titanit
  • Sphen

Korean:

  • 티타 나이트

Thai:

Gujurati:

  • ટાઇટેનાઇટ

Mandarin and Traditional Chinese:

Urdu:


Further Reading / External Links