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What on Earth Is Sphalerite?

What on Earth Is Sphalerite?

You've heard about the fool's gold pyrite which dazzles like gold to the untrained eye. Now meet sphalerite, the dark-coloured mineral ore of zinc often mistaken for galena. It also goes by the name blende or zinc blende.

Despite being a delicate mineral and having a perfect cleavage that makes it prone to breakage, sphalerite is cut into gemstones due to its excellent dispersion ability. In the world of crystal healing, sphalerite is thought to relax an overactive mind and help overcome defeating thoughts.

The Physical Properties of Sphalerite

With a glass-like appearance, sphalerite [(Zn,Fe)S] occurs in many different colours. Pure specimens without traces of iron are clear to white which are called cleiophane. Yellow to orange crystals are called golden sphalerite. Red-coloured sphalerite crystals are called ruby blende or ruby jack. Opaque submetallic sphalerites rich in iron have a darker shade which are known in the trade as black jack or marmatite. On rare occasions, sphalerite can grow as deep green crystals due to trace amounts of cobalt.

Sphalerite has perfect cleavage which is one of the most salient characteristics of the mineral. It has 6 cleavage directions with faces that display an adamantine to resinous lustre. This, combined with its low hardness (3.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale), makes the mineral difficult to cut and polish. Therefore, it's not suitable for jewellery use. Too much impact or abrasion may easily ruin the appearance of the mineral.

However, sphalerite is still commonly used as a material for faceted gems for its stunning fire effect. This is most obvious in yellow and green specimens, an effect attributed to the mineral's high dispersion rate (the ability of a stone to separate white light into splashes of colour as light passes through the material). Sphalerite's dispersion rate is 3 times higher than that of diamond.

The History of Sphalerite

The name sphalerite comes from the Greek word sphalero which means deceiving or treacherous. It was the German mineralogist and geologist Ernst Friedrich Glocker who named the mineral in 1847. This is an allusion to the various colours and appearances of the mineral, making it a challenge for one to correctly identify which specimen is which. So for ease of identification, miners in the past had given every variety of sphalerite a different name. These are blende, zinc blende, black jack, rosin jack, etc.

Sphalerite occurs in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. It forms when zinc-bearing fluids get in contact with carbonate rocks during hydrothermal activity/contact metamorphism. It is the primary and most important mineral ore of zinc.

Sphalerite deposits are found in many parts of the world including Australia, Bolivia, Canada, China, India, Mexico, Peru, and the USA. The mineral lies deposited in cavities, fractures, and veins. It can also be found as replacements of its host rocks. Sphalerite is associated with other minerals like calcite, colomite, chalcopyrite, marcasite, and pyrite.

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The Lore of Sphalerite

In crystal healing, sphalerite is believed to combat exhaustion and fatigue (physical and emotional). It carries energies that fuel its user with alertness and vigor. It's also a good mineral to work with for those experiencing dizziness and anxiety.

Sphalerite is said to boost the immune system, helping the body speedily recover from illnesses and infections. Athletes can turn to this zinc mineral to regain their strength after a heavy workout. It also replenishes oxygen levels in the blood. Sphalerite is also believed to aid brain development and in sharpening the senses of sight, smell, and taste.

The Metaphysical Properties of Sphalerite

Sphalerite is associated with the earth and fire energies. As such, it stimulates confidence, creativity, and passion. It energizes the 3 lower chakras, especially the root chakra. Use sphalerite to amplify the following intentions in your life:

  • Adaptability
  • Balance
  • Empowerment
  • Fluidity of expression
  • Grounding
  • Protection
  • Resilience
  • Recovery

When you want to gain more clarity in your life, sphalerite can help you by giving you wisdom to discern what's truth and what's fantasy; to tell the truth apart from information. As a result, you'll be able to make good decisions. This is most beneficial in making crucial decisions related to business, finances, and investments. And it will grant you the confidence to trust your own decisions.

Struggling to bounce back from past failures? Sphalerite instills positivity so you can look at your failures with acceptance and move on toward a hope-filled future. If you're about to embark on a new career or business venture, sphalerite will ward off negativity or demotivating energy that might hamper productivity or derail your progress.

Note: There is no scientific evidence that supports the effectiveness of mineral stones and crystals in treating ailments. All information published here is purely for educational purposes. Scientists attribute the healing impact to the placebo effect that takes place when using stones and crystals. Holding stones and meditating with them is said to trigger the release of feel-good hormones (endorphins and dopamine) in the brain.


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King, H. M. (n.d.). Sphalerite: The primary ore of zinc and a collector's gem. Geology.Com. Retrieved March 16, 2022, from https://geology.com/minerals/sphalerite.shtml

Mindat.org. (n.d.). Sphalerite. Retrieved March 16, 2022, from https://www.mindat.org/min-3727.html

Sphalerite Meaning, Healing Properties and Uses. (n.d.). Cape Cod Crystals. Retrieved March 16, 2022, from https://capecodcrystals.com/pages/sphalerite-meaning

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