Sphalerite | What is Sphalerite? | Introduction of Sphalerite | Specification of Sphalerite | What is Barite on sphalerite, Gem sphalerite, Faceted oval, Emerald cut and scissors cut| Geologyseeker |


Rare gemstones made of sphalerite exist. This is not due to the rarity of the stone itself, but rather to the fact that it may be the hardest gem to cut. When cutting, the stone can readily break into tiny fragments; the skill to facet sphalerite is the sign of a great cutter. Stones are only faceted for collectors because of this. In reference to the fact that it can be confused for other minerals, sphalerite gets its name from the Greek word sphaleros, which means "treacherous." It typically has a greenish-yellow hue, yet it can sometimes be deep red. 

The mineral sphalerite belongs to the family of sulfide minerals with the formula ((Zn, Fe)S). It is the primary zinc ore. Sphalerite is an uncommon, colorless mineral. Iron is typically present, causing the hue to change from a light greenish-yellow to brown and black as the iron content rises. Marmatite, an opaque black variant, is produced when the iron level is high. It frequently coexists with calcite, dolomite, and fluorite as well as galena, pyrite, and other sulfides. Sphalerite has also been referred to by the names zinc blende, black-jack, and ruby jack by miners. Tetrahedral or dodecahedral shapes are combined with additional faces in its complex crystals. Because its lustrous dark crystals might be confused for other minerals, sphalerite receives its name from the Greek word sphaleros, which means "deceitful."


Specification of Sphalerite

Chemical name

Zinc sulphide




Yellow-green, red, brown, black








Resinous to adamantine




Greenish black to brownish-black


Russia, Spain, Mexico, Canada, US


Formed in coal, limestone, and other sedimentary deposits under a variety of low- to high-temperature hydrothermal settings.

Galena, pyrite, marcasite, chalcopyrite, smithsonite, calcite, and dolomite are all found in association with sphalerite, the most significant zinc ore. It is very similar to the most typical galena in terms of creation and origin mechanism. Although it is widely dispersed, limestone veins and uneven displacement beds are where it is most frequently found. In igneous rocks, sphalerite can also be found in veins and contact metamorphic deposits.


As a gemstone, it is used. To best display sphalerite's high dispersion of 0.156 (B-G interval), more than three times that of diamond, crystals of the right size and transparency have been fashioned into jewels, typically with the brilliant-cut. The shine of newly cut gems is adamantine. The gems are frequently kept unset as collectibles or museum pieces because of their softness and fragility (although some have been set into pendants).

the most significant zinc ore. The main applications for metallic zinc, also known as spelter, include the galvanization of iron, the production of brass, a copper and zinc alloy, electric batteries, and sheet zinc. Paint is frequently made with zinc oxide, also known as zinc white. Wood is preserved by using zinc chloride. Both dyeing and medication employ zinc sulfate. The largest significant source of cadmium is sphalerite.


Barite on sphalerite | Rough | This specimen consists of a mass of elongated, platy barite crystals resting on a bed of sphalerite crystals.

Gem sphalerite | Rough | Here, a large, gem-quality sphalerite crystal can be seen embedded in smaller crystals of sphalerite and quartz.

Faceted oval | Cut | The superb cut of this oval sphalerite gemstone brings out one of the mineral’s more unusual colors, a deep red hue.

Emerald cut | Cut | Because of sphalerite’s extreme brittleness, stones with corners of any kind are difficult to cut, so this emerald-cut gem displays exceptional craftsmanship.

Scissors cut | Cut | The cutter of this sphalerite gem has used the complexity of modified scissors cut to help disguise the stone’s internal color variations.

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