gold necklace with sphalerite and diamondsgold necklace with sphalerite and diamonds

Sphalerite Buying Guide

Our sphalerite buying guide can help you learn how these gems are graded, what to avoid, and how to identify a high quality stone or a bargain in the rough.

3 Minute Read

Radiant square-cut sphalerite, 198 cts, 30.1 x 30.3 x 21.1 mm, Las Manforas, Aliva, Picos de Europa, Spain. Photo/video credit: Etienne Gaspard (Instagram: @arvernesgemmes). Used with permission.

Why is Sphalerite Difficult to Cut?

With a hardness of just 3.5 to 4, sphalerite can be scratched very easily. Common household dust, with a hardness of 7, would scratch sphalerite if you wiped it off with a cloth. Faceters also face additional challenges cutting this stone. It has six perfect cleavage planes in its isometric crystal structure and it’s brittle. It also frequently displays color zoning. As a result, you’ll find relatively few cut sphalerites, even though rough is available.

Careful, expert cutting and polishing can enhance this gem’s high dispersion or fire and take its luster to a bright, diamond-like adamantine. If sphalerites were tougher, they would probably be very popular, important gems.

Sphalerite Buying and the Four Cs

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


You’ll find that fine red or orange sphalerites, especially in sizes above three carats, command high-end prices. Generally, green, yellow-green, and brownish stones have lower values, as do smaller pieces of any color.

Colored gems with lighter…

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