Each February brings the Tucson, Arizona gem shows, some of the most diverse in the world. JTV is always in attendance finding you the latest and greatest material. In some instances, it takes weeks for the merchandise purchased at these shows to make it to the Jewelry Television broadcast and jtv.com. Such is the case with the incredible sphalerite available now on jtv.com. Tune in all weekend long for special values on this highly collectible gemstone. Here's more from our very own Joni Loveday about sphalerite and why it should be in your gemstone collection. - Dana Sebby, Jewelry Television and JTV.com Community Manager
Sphalerite: A Brilliant JTV Treasure from Tucson
Our buyers are willing to take the extra steps necessary to acquire the very best gemstones for our customers! Case in point: sphalerite (pronounced SFAY-luh-ryte). At the recent Tucson Gem Show, our Bangkok buying team left early one day to meet with a gem vendor in the middle of the desert at his home office. What they were after was brilliant, fiery sphalerite gems and they got them. After negotiating some excellent prices, they packed up the gems and took them back to their hotel to sort and grade so that we could get these sparkling gems on air as soon as possible, and now we’re excited to introduce you to this glorious gem from Spain!
A rare treasure for gemstone collectors, sphalerite has a much greater rate of dispersion than that of diamond—not to mention that of most other gems. When we think about diamonds, one of the first things that come to mind is probably their brilliance; yet the fire and brilliance of sphalerite is unforgettable. Lighter stones demonstrate even more exceptional fire.
This gem is named from the Greek sphaleros, meaning treacherous, because of the difficulty it presents to miners when trying to identify it in the field. It closely resembles several minerals in appearance, including galena. Sphalerite colors include a full spectrum from yellow to red and it’s often seen in various shades from yellow to green. As iron content increases, stones become darker.
Depending on its origin, some sphalerite may fluoresce--from orange to orangey red and red under ultraviolet light. Additionally, sphalerite has a couple of interesting properties. It is both pyroelectric (becomes electrically charged when heated) and triboluminescent (begins to glow when rubbed, pressed or struck).
A challenging material to fashion into gems, sphalerite can try the patience of even the most highly skilled lapidaries. Not only is it extremely soft (3.5 – 4), it also has perfect cleavage—in six directions, making it difficult to cut and polish! And, add in the fact that it’s a brittle gem and you have an idea of the challenge that awaits its potential cutter. Yet, when that talented lapidary is able to complete his task with a fashioned gem, the results are spectacular.
While sphalerite is found in several locations worldwide, only a few locales provide material that is gem quality. Spain and Mexico are the two most notable sources for fine quality material and as buyer George Williams has said before, “nothing in the world compares to the colors of the Spanish gems!”
Other facts about Sphalerite
• While Spain isn’t known as a gem-rich country, it is the source for one of the most beautiful gems in the world….sphalerite.
• These gems have an adamantine (“diamond like”) luster, meaning that at first glance, they could possibly be mistaken for fancy colored diamonds!
• One word of caution: please resist the temptation to set your sparkling sphalerite into a jewelry mounting. It really is too soft and brittle for wear in rings. if you want to create a piece of jewelry, we ONLY recommend setting these stones into pendant or earring castings or semi-mounts!
• Sphalerite is more fiery than diamond with its incredibly high rate of dispersion!
• Sphalerite--definitely not a gem you’ll find at your local jeweler’s establishment.
It is our pleasure to bring you the most beautiful gems, like this amazing sphalerite from Spain!
- Joni Loveday
Sources: George Williams and Jerry Sisk, JTV