Difference between revisions of "Sphene"

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*Chrome sphene, intense green (color cause by chromium).
*Chrome sphene, intense green (color caused by chromium).
*Greenovite, a reddish variety owning its color to manganese (MnO) impurities.
*Greenovite, a reddish variety owning its color to manganese (MnO) impurities.

Revision as of 10:35, 31 May 2007

Chemical composition CaTiOSiO4
Crystal system Monoclinic
Habit Wedge shaped, massive
Cleavage Distinct, prismatic
Fracture Conchoidal
Hardness 5.0-5.5
Optic nature Biaxial +
Refractive index 1.880-2.099
Birefringence 0.100-0.135
Dispersion High, 0.051
Specific gravity 3.45-3.55
Lustre Resinous to sub-adamantine
Pleochroism Distinct to strong

Sphene is the older name of this mineral wich refers to its crystalshape. Titanite is the universial name amongst mineralogists today and refers to its content of titanium. Greenovite is the name given to red or pink sphene. Gemologists use the name sphene for gem material titanite.

Sphene is isostructural with tilasite, malayaite and fersmantite.



Yellow, brown, green, reddish.
Color is caused by rare earth elements (didymium) for yellow stones and chromium for the intense green chrome sphene.




Transparent to opaque.


nα = 1.843 - 1.950, nβ = 1.870 - 2.034, nγ = 1.943 - 2.110 with a birefringence of 0.100 - 0.192.
Optical nature: biaxial positive.

A strong doubling of facets is seen in cut stones.


Due to its small to moderate 2V value (17-40°) a clear biaxial interference pattern may be seen (two melatopes visible in one image).


Moderate to strong trichroism.
Yellow to brown stones: colourless, greenish-yellow, reddish.


Sometimes a spectrum can be seen.
Mean absorption lines: 586, 582. Sphene may show (weak) rare earth spectra due to didymium.


None (probably due to iron content).


  • Chrome sphene, intense green (color caused by chromium).
  • Greenovite, a reddish variety owning its color to manganese (MnO) impurities.


Sphene is a common and widespread mineral in many igneous rocks and metamorphic rocks. Associated minerals are pyroxene, amphibole, feldspar and quartz.


Wedge-shaped crystals that may show parting due to twinning. Less common massive or lamellar. Sphene is normally fine grained but occacionally forms large crystals.

Sphene may show some degree of metamictization.


Sphene is changed to red or orange through heating.


Sphene's relative low hardness makes it vulnerable to abbrasion.


Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Mexico, Russia and Austria


  • Gems sixth edition (2006) - Michael O'Donoghue ISBN 0750658568
  • Gemstones of the world, 3rd rev and exp edition (2006) - Walter Schuman ISBN 1402740166
  • Mineralogy second edition (2002) - Dexter Perkins ISBN 0130620998
  • Introduction to Optical Mineralogy (2004) - William D. Nesse ISBN 0195149106
  • Gemmology 3rd edition (2005) - Peter G. Read ISBN 0750664495
  • Gem Reference Guide (1995) - GIA ISBN 0873110293