Sphalerite offers a great temptation for jewelry lovers. Faceting and polishing can enhance this gem’s high dispersion or fire and take its luster to a bright, diamond-like adamantine. Rough gem material in rich green, yellow, orange, brown, and red colors isn’t hard to find.

However, for all its beauty, this gem is too soft and fragile for most jewelry uses. It has six perfect cleavage planes in its isometric crystal structure, it’s brittle, and scratches easily. (Sphalerite has a hardness of 4. Common household dust, with a hardness of 7, would scratch sphalerite if you wiped it off with a cloth). Faceting this soft, often color zoned, highly cleavable gem presents a challenge few faceters can meet successfully.

As a result, you’ll find relatively few cut specimens, even though rough is available. If this material were tougher, it would probably be a very popular, important gem. As it stands, you have a chance to add a breathtaking faceted specimen to your gem collection or an unusual, special occasion piece to your jewelry collection.

Sphalerite Buying and the 4 Cs

The IGS sphalerite value listing has price guidelines for faceted pieces.


You’ll find that fine red or…