Color Change Sphene from Pakistan Available Now on JTV.com
During our recent trip to the Tucson gem shows, Jewelry Television co-founder and Graduate Gemologist Jerry Sisk, and Senior Gemstone Buyers for JTV Shawn O’Sullivan and Jay Boyle, made a wonderful purchase of a very special gem with a phenomenal physical property: color changing sphene from Pakistan! Now is the time to purchase highly collectible color change sphene before it sells out on Jewelry Television and jtv.com. Unknown to the world until its discovery 3 or 4 years ago, color change sphene was something that we simply didn’t know existed in nature! None of our seasoned buyers had ever seen these gems and were quick to recognize their appeal to gemstone enthusiasts the world over. They purchased every last one of these amazing gems that the vendor had! Except for a few gems scattered across the globe from the first small production, this buy from the second production represents the ONLY commercial lot of the Pakistani color change sphene gems this amazing find has produced to date--and Jewelry Television and jtv.com has it!
And now the bad news--we don’t have an abundance of these special gems. From what our supplier tells us, the production of material hasn’t been anywhere close to what was anticipated. To date, there have only been two small parcels of color change sphene rough to come from the mining area. There has been no new production in more than a year.
The discovery of this color change sphene was so special and exciting news for the gem world that a recent article written about it in a major trade publication. With color that goes from a dark chartreuse green in daylight/fluorescent lighting to an amber yellow in incandescent lighting to a brilliant amber yellow under candlelight, these gems are truly spectacular and will represent a significant addition to your gemstone collection! And the RI’s of the tested gems were over-the-limit of the laboratory’s refractometer…giving them an extraordinary amount of fire!
Our supplier is now left to wonder if there is more material to be discovered or was this a one pocket find and currently, no one has the answer to this question.
About the Mining Area of Color Change Sphene
The country of Pakistan is located in southern Asia and is bordered by India, Iran, Afghanistan and China. Pakistan is home to some of the tallest mountains in the world and as you might suspect, the mining area for this phenomenal gem is located in a remote, treacherous region of the Punjab Mountain Range that crosses into India. The deposit was found in an isolated region near the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.
The mining area is found thousands of feet up in the mountains and is only accessible some 4 ½ months out of the year (from late June to October). A small team of 4 to 6 miners access the area as the region is so desolate it would be nearly impossible to get help if one person was alone and injured himself. The material is mined from a primary deposit, meaning that it hasn’t been weathered by nature.
About the Color of Color Change Sphene
Upon the discovery of these gems, our suppliers sent several stones to some of the world’s most prominent labs for detailed study. They did determine the gems to have trace amounts of chromium, but it is actually the stronger presence of vanadium that is the primary coloring agent responsible for the color change.
We must also mention the color change observed in these sphene gems. While the color change may not be quite as dramatic as that seen in alexandrite or sapphire, it has most assuredly been classified as color change. Because of the stones’ strong pleochroism, the color change will give the appearance of “traveling across the face” of some of the gems.
About the Cutting of Color Change Sphene
Upon closer inspection of the gems, our buyers were quick to note their excellent cutting. Our supplier sent the rough material to a cutting factory in China to have expertly cut gems fashioned. Even without the added bonus of their color change property, these gems have an incredible presence that cannot be denied!
More about the Gemstone Sphene
One of the world’s newest and rarest gems, sphene possesses the rather unusual ability to take a beam of light and break it into all the spectral colors, which is known as its “fire” or “dispersion”. As a matter of fact, its rate of dispersion is greater than that of diamond.
Named after the Greek word for “wedge”, sphene is so named because its crystals are usually wedge shaped. As it contains titanium, it may sometimes be called by its mineral name “titanite”. Today, most sphene is predominantly green or yellowish-green, with just about every other color of the rainbow displayed by its fiery, intense brilliance.
Sphene is notoriously difficult to polish well. But when a lapidary is able to achieve this, sphene’s luster can approach or equal that of diamond.
Jerry Sisk, Jay Boyle, and Christopher Clark, JTV
Eric Braunwart, Colombia Gem House
Gems and Gemology, December 2011 issue