Sphene is a Gemstone that I have come to love over my career, I still remember my first encounter with the Californian material, that Baja deposit is coloured by Chromium and as such has an incredible emerald green saturation with bags of fire in eye clean stones.
This Californian material is extremely rare, in fact any eye clean gem quality is rare from any deposit, and this is a stone that is routinely included.
In the industry, the general expectations of this species are conservative; good clarity, attractive body colour and some dispersion would equate to a premium stone and command high prices as such.
I’ve been sourcing gemstones from the Island of Madagascar for some time; I was a huge advocate of the fine Demantoid Garnets that came from the north which have all but depleted now. I championed the famous Ilakaka Sapphire deposits far before designers around the world converted in huge numbers. When I was made aware of a new Sphene discovery by the Malagassy locals I had to see this stone, admittedly I didn’t expect much, as most Sphene I had seen in the market didn’t offer anything new.
I should have never doubted Madagascar’s ability to offer a new take on an already well established set of ideals. This new Sphene from Ambilobe blew my mind, it was dynamite!
The stone mixed emerald greens with canary flashes of colour to form a chartreuse miracle, its fire is unrivalled, in some cut goods, I witnessed the light entering the stone and ricocheting off every internal facet before finding a way out through an intense rainbow explosion. The stone, head on, creates a mosaic of dispersion that dances within the stone responding vividly to every subtle movement as I inspected each specimen.
However over the last 18 months the situation at Ambilobe has changed significantly, the miners tell me that production has slowed and many miners are now moving towards the Ruby rush in Didi. The once prosperous deposit that rained rainbows out of the ground is now rarely producing significant gem quality stones and we may have seen the best of one of the most significant Sphene deposits of the last few decades.
I was so in awe of this material that I conducted a test back home, I took a Marambaia Topaz, a VVSI diamond and an Ambilobe Shene and placed them all table down and then hit them with a torch. The Sphene is one of the most impressive displays of dispersion I have ever seen in my life. It threw out a myriad of colours that put my Diamond to shame at a fraction of the price.