oval-cut scheelite - Chinaoval-cut scheelite - China

Scheelite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

Large, faceted scheelites are among the most beautiful of all collector’s gemstones. They occur in many colors and fluoresce very brightly. If cut properly, scheelites can have tremendous fire.

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Large, faceted scheelites are among the most beautiful of all collector’s gemstones. They occur in many colors and fluoresce very brightly. If cut properly, scheelites can have tremendous fire.

oval-cut scheelite - China
Orangey yellow oval-cut scheelite, 5.33 cts, 10.2 x 7.8 x 5.0 mm, China. © ARK Rare Gems. Used with permission.

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Scheelite Value

rough and faceted scheelites - California and Mexico
Rough and faceted scheelites: gemstones, California (2.2) and Mexico (2.4). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

What is Scheelite?

An ore of tungsten (W), the mineral scheelite occurs in localities all over the world. However, gem-quality crystals are rare. Scheelite itself belongs to the scheelite mineral group, which also includes powellite, stolzite, and wulfenite, and forms a series as the W end-member with powellite, the molybdenum (Mo) end-member. All these minerals are rarely seen as faceted gems, but scheelites are probably the most commonly cut of the group.

scheelite - Mexico
Scheelite: Mexico (3.78). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Does Scheelite Make a Good Jewelry Stone?

You're more likely to find faceted scheelites in mineral collections than jewelry collections. Scheelite's combination of low hardness (4.5-5), distinct and good cleavage, and brittle tenacity makes it a poor choice for jewelry use. Such fragile gems would require protective settings, especially as ring stones.

Nevertheless, collectors prize faceted scheelites for their rarity and beauty. Since scheelites have high dispersion and refractive indices (RI), the right gem design can create lively, sparkly gems with high brilliance. They occur in a wide variety of colors, too. In addition, these gems have extremely bright fluorescence under shortwave (SW) ultraviolet (UV) light, which makes them spectacular specimens for display, whether as gems or raw crystals.

Scheelites. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Do Scheelites Make Good Diamond Simulants?

Before the commercial production of cubic zirconia, scheelite's dispersion, RI, and colors (including colorless) also made it a good diamond simulant. Of course, scheelites can look like diamonds but can never match their much greater durability.

colorless rectangle-cut scheelite - Chile
Colorless scheelite, 5.51 cts, 8.3 x 7.1 mm, rectangle cut, La Serena, Chile. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

Are There Star and Cat's Eye Scheelite Gems?

Very rarely, Sri Lanka has produced scheelites that show asterism and chatoyancy, the "star stone" and "cat's eye" effects, respectively.  "Star stone" scheelites have 4-rayed stars.

star scheelite - Sri Lanka
Light yellow star scheelite, 12.66 cts, 11.6 x 11.4 mm, round cabochon, Sri Lanka. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

In a 2001 GIA investigation into new methods for imitating asterism, one of the star stones submitted for analysis was represented as scheelite. However, under further analysis, it proved to be a different species, possibly a samarskite. Nevertheless, the results of this investigation remain relevant. Apparently, these false stars were deliberately and manually created by scratching tightly packed, parallel coarse lines on the domed surfaces of cabochons. Although some specimens looked very convincing, most appeared unnatural, with asymmetrical rays in unusual numbers. The star effects also lacked depth.

While asterism and chatoyancy can occur in scheelites, buyer beware whenever purchasing any gem with a rarely seen optical display.

Scheelite Fluorescence

Scheelite's intense fluorescence under SW UV light and X-rays can help distinguish it from other stones of similar appearance.

  • scheelite crystal, white light - Italy
  • scheelite crystal, SW UV light - Italy

    This large, tan scheelite crystal (4 x 4 x 3.2 cm) on matrix shows strong whitish blue fluorescence under SW UV light. Specimen 7.8 x 5.5 x 3.5 cm, Traversella, Piedmont, Italy. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

    Although they typically glow an intense bluiesh white or whitish blue, scheelites that contain some molybdenum can fluoresce a creamy yellow in SW. This variety is known as molybdoscheelite. (Powellite, the Mo-dominant series end-member, fluoresces yellowish to golden yellow in both SW and LW UV).

    • scheelite crystal, white light - China
    • scheelite crystal, SW UV light - China

      This 6.7-cm long scheelite crystal on a sulfide and quartz matrix most likely contains some molybdenum. It has a yellowish fluorescence under SW UV.  Specimen 9.0 x 8.0 x 5.2 cm, Huanggang mines, Keshiketeng, Inner Mongolia A.R., China. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

      Scheelites also show thermoluminescence. They fluoresce when heated.

      Synthetic scheelites may show different fluorescent properties. See the section on "Synthetic Scheelite Fluorescence" below.

      Are There Synthetic Scheelites?

      Synthetic or lab-created scheelites have industrial uses, especially in laser technology. In the 1960s and 70s, synthetic scheelites were also frequently sold as diamond lookalikes. While no longer commonly used as diamond simulants, faceted synthetic scheelites may still be offered as rare, faceted natural scheelites to unwary collectors.

      The colors of synthetic scheelites can vary widely, depending on the rare-earth elements used as dopants. They may show purple, red-brown, pale green, pale yellow, yellow-brown, dark red, and dark yellow-green colors. Without any dopants, synthetic scheelites are colorless.

      synthetic scheelites - boules and gems
      Calcium tungstate (synthetic scheelite), boules and faceted gems: gems ~ 3.15 carats. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

      Gemologists can also use natural or synthetic scheelites to help them distinguish between Type I and Type II diamonds. In a darkened room, they place a scheelite behind a shield with a hole in it. Then, they place a diamond over the hole and shine a SW UV light through it. Type I diamonds are opaque to SW UV light (200 to 280 nm), while Type II are transparent to this light. Thus, if the scheelite shows its dramatic fluorescence, the diamond is a Type II.

      Distinguishing Synthetic from Natural Scheelite

      Of course, synthetics resemble natural scheelites. However, they may still have some slight differences in the following properties:

      • SG: 5.9-6.1
      • Cleavage: None. (Some synthetics may still have Distinct cleavage).
      • Optics: o = 1.920; e = 1.937
      • Birefringence: 0.017
      • Dispersion: 0.026

      Synthetic scheelites can be grown using pull, flux, and vapor methods. Pulled crystals generally have flawless clarity. However, they may display gas bubbles, curved striae, and, occasionally, inclusions of rhodium (Rh) or iridium (Ir) metals. In contrast, natural scheelites may contain fingerprint-like liquid inclusions, feathers, and two-phase inclusions.

      Synthetic Scheelite Absorption Spectra

      Depending on the rare-earth dopants used, the absorption spectra of synthetic scheelites may differ considerably from those of their natural counterparts. For example, a neodymium-doped purple stone has a distinctive spectrum, with strong lines at 6670 and 4340 and a distinct band at 5690-5590. Some synthetics may not even show absorption spectra. A Gems & Gemology article from 1968 contains photos of the absorption spectra of synthetic scheelites of various colors (pp. 339-342).

      Synthetic Scheelite Fluorescence

      Pale green synthetics may fluoresce pink in SW UV. Other colors generally fluoresce in shades of blue to blue-white in SW. Some synthetics may also fluoresce red to orange-red under LW.

      Do Scheelites Receive Gem Enhancements?

      There are no known gemstone treatments or enhancements for scheelites.

      faceted scheelites - California and Arizona
      Scheelites: California (15.05), Arizona (11.90). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

      Where are Scheelites Found?

      Notable crystal and gem-quality sources include the following:

      • United States: Arizona (brown, large crystals, sometimes gemmy); California (colorless gemmy crystals); Connecticut; Nevada; New Mexico; South Dakota; Utah, near Milford (orange crystals, some with clear tips).
      • Czech Republic: rare druzy crystals.
      • Italy: tan crystals.
      • North and South Korea: white, grayish crystals; sometimes very large.
      • Romania: grayish blue and rare, deep blue crystals.
      A backlit translucent scheelite showing intense, deep blue color. 1.6 x 1.2 x 1.1 cm. Baia Sprie, Maramures, Romania. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.
      • Sri Lanka: colorless, gray, yellow (gemmy)
      • Australia; Bolivia; Brazil; Canada; Chile; China; Finland; France; Germany; Japan; Mexico; Myanmar; Namibia; Pakistan; Peru; Russia; Slovakia; Sweden; Switzerland; England, United Kingdom; Vietnam.
      pear-cut scheelite - Myanmar
      Slightly brownish yellow scheelite, 2.01 cts, 6.7 x 6.2 mm, pear mixed cut, Mogok, Myanmar. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

      Stone Sizes

      Large scheelites are very rare. Some crystals held in museums could yield stones over 100 carats. Smaller, clean gems are available commercially.

      Crystals from Arizona, Korea, Peru, and other localities may be very large (4 inches on an edge) and are cuttable in sections. California gems may reach 70 carats. Mexican and Arizona stones usually reach up to about 10 carats, but an orange Mexican stone has been cut over 100 carats. Utah crystals rarely cut stones over 7 carats. Korea has produced crystals up to 13 inches, but none of this size have been cuttable.

      faceted scheelites - Korea, Mexico, Arizona
      Scheelites: Korea (7.5), Mexico (4.0), Arizona (2.0). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.
      • Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC): 18.7 and 15.8 (colorless, California); 12.4 (golden yellow, Mexico).
      • Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Ontario, Canada): 14.0 (colorless, California).
      • American Museum of Natural History (New York): 20.65 (near Bishop, California).
      • Private Collection: 17.58 (yellow, Mexico); 12.20 (Sri Lanka).
      • Devonian Group (Calgary, Alberta, Canada): 8.70 (Cohen Mine, Nevada).
      • National Museums of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario): (intense orange kite step-cut, Emerald Lake, Yukon Territory, Canada).
      world's largest scheelite crystal - Peru
      World's largest scheelite crystal, 15 x 10 cm, from the Turmalina Mine, Canchaque, Peru. On display at the Andres del Castillo Mineral Museum, Lima, Peru. Photo by Roberto Galcerán. Public Domain.

      How to Care for Scheelites

      Clean scheelites only with a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water. Consult our gemstone jewelry care guide for more recommendations.

      faceted scheelite, 4.17 carats
      Scheelite, 4.17 cts. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

      Joel E. Arem, Ph.D., FGA

      Dr. Joel E. Arem has more than 60 years of experience in the world of gems and minerals. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Mineralogy from Harvard University, he has published numerous books that are still among the most widely used references and guidebooks on crystals, gems and minerals in the world.

      Co-founder and President of numerous organizations, Dr. Arem has enjoyed a lifelong career in mineralogy and gemology. He has been a Smithsonian scientist and Curator, a consultant to many well-known companies and institutions, and a prolific author and speaker. Although his main activities have been as a gem cutter and dealer, his focus has always been education. joelarem.com

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