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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Titanite

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                                          asset is available
Photo by Ken Larsen. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G11407-00
Locality Madagascar
Weight 43.52 ct

Purchased with funds from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation in 2011.

Titanite, a calcium titanium silicate named for its titanium content, occurs as translucent to transparent crystals, typically forming as flattened wedge-shaped crystals, often twinned. Gem quality titanite can be found in shades of yellow, green, brown or red with a resinous to adamantine luster. Faceted stones are known for their pronounced dispersion or “fire.” Transparent specimens are also noted for their strong trichroism (exhibiting three different colors), typically greenish-yellow, reddish-yellow and nearly colorless, however the exact shades are dependent on the body color. Titanite is also known as sphene. However, the use of sphene was discredited by the International Mineralogical Association Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names (CNMMN), and titanite is the approved name. Titanite is not commonly used in jewelry because it is brittle and rather soft (5.5 Mohs hardness), but it is a popular collector’s stone. Gem quality titanite can be found in Brazil, Mexico, Switzerland, and Madagascar. This intense green titanite, a modified oval cut faceted by Elvis “Buzz” Gray, exhibits great dispersion with flashes of spectral colors. At 43.52 carats it is a major upgrade for the National Gem Collection.


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