Rutile Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


rutile - rough specimen and faceted gem
Rutile: North Carolina. Faceted gem ~ 0.5, specimen ~ 2 inches long. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Though perhaps best known as inclusions within other gems, rutile crystals themselves can be faceted or cabbed as curiosities for collectors. Rutile can show a deep, red color. Synthetics can show a variety of colors and have even been used as diamond simulants.

Rutile Value

The International Gem Society (IGS) has a list of businesses offering gemstone appraisal services.

Rutile Information

DataValue
NameRutile
Crystallography Tetragonal. Crystals prismatic, vertically striated, well developed, often twinned into a series of contact twins with up to eight individuals, sometimes looping to form a complete circle! Also, massive; granular.
Colors Black, deep red, brownish red. Greenish (if Nb present), also bluish and violet. A variety rich in Cr is deep green.
Luster Metallic to adamantine.
Fracture Conchoidal to uneven. Brittle.
Hardness 6 - 6.5
Specific Gravity 4.23, also see "Identifying Characteristics" below.
Birefringence 0.287
Cleavage Distinct 1 direction.
Dispersion 0.280
Luminescence None.
Spectral Not diagnostic.
Transparency Transparent to opaque.
FormulaTiO2 + Nb, Ta, Fe.
Pleochroism Distinct: shades of red, brown, yellow, green.
Optics o = 2.62; e = 2.90. Uniaxial (+). Sometimes anomalously biaxial.
EtymologyFrom the Latin rutilus for red, in allusion to the color.
OccurrenceIn addition to its occurrence as inclusions in other minerals, occurs as a high-temperature mineral, in gneiss and schist, also in alpine-type veins; found in igneous rocks, pegmatites, regionally metamorphosed rocks, including crystalline limestones, and as detrital grains.
rutile needle inclusions in quartz
“Rutile in Quartz” by Mark, Vicki, Ellaura and Mason. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Comments

Rutile crystals occur as needle inclusions in a wide variety of gem materials, such as quartz (rutilated quartz) and agate (sagenite). In corundum, they occur as fibers, causing asterism in stones such as star sapphires. Rutile inclusions also cause chatoyancy in gem materials such as chrysoberyl.

Faceted rutiles may disappoint collectors because the finished gems are so dark. Rutile’s deep, red color may be so intense it can’t be seen easily in stones larger than 1 carat. Cabochons might show reddish reflections in cracks and along imperfections.

Identifying Characteristics

Swiss rutile seems a bit more transparent than material from other localities.

Rutile’s specific gravity varies somewhat in relation to its trace elements.

  • Iron (Fe) bearing: 4.2 – 4.4.
  • Niobium (Nb) and tantalum (Ta) bearing: 4.2 – 5.6.

Synthetics

Synthetic rutiles appeared on the gem market in 1948. Created through the Verneuil or flame fusion process, these synthetics can show colors such as yellow, brown, red, and blue. Near colorless stones with a yellow tinge can take full advantage of rutile’s high dispersion, six time greater than diamond. For a time, gem dealers sold synthetic rutiles under the name “Titania” as diamond simulants. However, these stones showed too much fire to be believable simulants. They faded from use as other diamond simulants emerged, such as cubic zirconia.

synthetic rutile - color suite
Synthetic Rutile: color suite. 1.45 to 7.25 cts. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Treatments

Heat treatments can turn light yellowish synthetic rutiles blue.

Sources

Sierra Leone produces nearly a third of the world’s supply of rutiles.

Graves Mountain, Georgia produces fine rutile crystals in quartz veins. These pieces can weigh up to several pounds.

Other notable gem-quality sources include:

  • Magnet Cove, Arkansas: huge, rough crystals.
  • California; North Carolina; South Dakota; Virginia.
  • Brazil: large, fine crystals.
  • France; Russia; Switzerland.
rutile - Georgia
The red sheen on this highly reflective crystal is most apparent when brightly lit (Right). “Rutile (Twinned),” Graves Mountain, Lincoln County, Georgia, USA. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission. (Images combined for comparison).

Stone Sizes

Large crystals often have transparent areas that can provide stones for faceting. However, cut rutiles above 2-3 carats are so dark they appear opaque. Thus, this becomes the effective size limit of faceted gems.

  • Devonian Group (Calgary, Alberta, Canada): 3.70.

Care

You’re more likely to find natural rutiles in mineral collections than in jewelry collections. If you do have a synthetic gem as a diamond simulant, keep in mind that while it may exceed diamond in dispersion, it’s far less hard (6 – 6.5). Store it separately from other common jewelry stones such as quartz and topaz to avoid contact scratches. For cleaning, use a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.

synthetic rutile - emerald cut
Synthetic Rutile: emerald cut, 7.84 cts. © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.