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Last updated date: 13th Apr 2024
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Introduction to Rutile

Rutile is a type of titanium oxide mineral with the chemical formula TiO2. It can be found worldwide in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. Rutile can also be found in other minerals as needle-shaped crystals. Rutile has a high specific gravity and is frequently concentrated in “heavy mineral sands” found today in both onshore and offshore deposits by stream and wave action. These sands provide a significant portion of the world's rutile supply. Rutile is a titanium ore that is ground into a white powder and used as a paint pigment. It is also processed for use in a variety of items. The “eyes” and “stars” in many gems, such as star ruby and star sapphire, are made up of networks of needle-shaped rutile crystals.

Occurrence of Rutile

Rutile is found in plutonic igneous rocks like granite and deep-source igneous rocks like peridotite and lamproite as an accessory mineral. Rutile is a natural accessory mineral in metamorphic rocks such as gneiss, schist, and eclogite. Rutile crystals with a good shape can be found in pegmatite and skarn. Rutile and many other metallic ore minerals are mined together in sedimentary deposits called "heavy mineral sands." The weathering of igneous and metamorphic rocks that contain abundant tiny grains of high-specific-gravity minerals such as rutile, ilmenite, anatase, brookite, leucoxene, perovskite, and titanite results in these sediments (also known as sphene). The more resistant mineral particles in these rocks are washed into the marine coastal environment as they weather, where they are sorted and concentrated according to density by wave and current action. These sediments may become mineable deposits if the conditions are correct and heavy minerals are abundant.

Synthetic Rutile

Rutile has an adamantine lustre, a high refractive index, and a heavy dispersion. There are optical properties that can make a perfect gemstone, and rutile's properties are comparable to or better than diamond. Natural rutile, on the other hand, rarely has the clarity and colour needed to be used as a diamond substitute. Synthetic rutile, on the other hand, can be produced nearly colourless and with exceptional clarity. It was cut into gems and marketed as a diamond simulant called "Titania'' when it was first manufactured in the 1940s and 1950s. It gained an early period of popularity before buyers discovered that synthetic rutile was susceptible to abrasion injuries in a short period of time - rutile has a Mohs hardness of 6 compared to diamond's hardness of 10. Synthetic rutile was first manufactured in 1948 and is marketed under a number of different names. The Becher process can be used to make it from titanium ore ilmenite. In large parts, very pure synthetic rutile is translucent and almost colourless, with a slight yellow tint. Synthetic rutile can be doped to produce a range of colours.

Rutile in powder and thin film form is frequently fabricated in laboratory conditions by solution-based routes using inorganic or organometallic precursors, as a result of the research interest in the photocatalytic activity of titanium dioxide in both anatase and rutile phases. The metastable anatase phase can crystallise first, depending on synthesis conditions, and can then be converted to the equilibrium rutile phase through thermal treatment. Dopants are often used to modify the physical properties of rutile in order to enhance photocatalytic activity by improving photo-generated charge carrier separation, altering electronic band structures, and improving surface reactivity.

Titanium Rutile

In comparison to all widely used materials for paper filling or coating systems, titanium dioxide pigments are finely divided white rutile powders that are chemically inert or unreactive, and are used to increase opacity. Titanium dioxide is known as anatase or rutile depending on its crystalline arrangement. This pigment is suitable for achieving high opacity because of its high light reflectivity, low light absorption, and small particle size. These pigments are very deeply white in their finely separated form. Titanium dioxide pigments, with this property, contribute significantly to the optical output of paper in terms of brightness and opacity, even at low concentration levels. Calcium carbonate is a more cost-effective pigment if only brightness is needed.

Rutile Mining

Ships dredge up sediments, separate out the heavy mineral grains, keep the heavy minerals on board, and discharge the lighter sediment fraction down to the bottom to mine heavy mineral sands in shallow marine environments. On ground, heavy mineral sands can be found in sedimentary deposits that formed when sea levels were much higher than they are now. These sediments are mined, treated to extract the heavy minerals, and then added to the original topography of the landscape.

Rutile and Gemology

Rutile, maybe more than any other mineral, prefers to form prism-shaped crystals within other minerals. Rutile long prisms can be found in a variety of gem minerals. Some of the more well-known minerals include quartz, corundum (ruby and sapphire), garnet, and andalusite. As seen in many rutilated quartz specimens, these needles can be coarse and noticeable inside the gem. When the colour and arrangement of these needles are pleasing, they create attractive and fascinating novelty gems. 

Reflections of light from a network of fine rutile crystals inside a properly cut cabochon create a beautiful "star" of light on the gem's surface in certain gems, such as ruby and sapphire. The occurrence of the star is known as "asterism," and gem rubies and gem sapphires with this star are known in the trade as "phenomenal gems." In certain gems, one direction of parallel crystals forms a light line on the gem's surface known as a "cat's-eye." Chatoyance is the phenomenon that causes a cat's-eye, and gems that show this phenomenon are considered to be "chatoyant." Cat's-eye chrysoberyl is the most well-known gem for its chatoyance.

Rutile Uses

The primary applications of rutile and titanium oxide made from rutile are the manufacture of titanium oxide pigments, refractory ceramics, and titanium metal. Rutile is a bright white powder that can be finely ground and refined to eliminate impurities, making it an excellent pigment. By suspending the powder in a liquid, it is used to produce paint. The liquid acts as a carrier for the paint, and when it evaporates, it leaves a coating of titanium oxide on the painted object. When the United States government banned the use of lead-based pigments in consumer paint goods in 1978, titanium oxide pigments became very popular in the paint industry. Titanium oxide pigments are used to render high-brightness paper and to create white colour in plastics. These materials have a fading-resistant colour thanks to titanium oxide. Titanium oxide is also chemically inert and nontoxic. Because of these properties, it can be used as a pigment in food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and a variety of consumer goods, including toothpaste.

Fun Fact

Rutile Hematite is thought to lift self-imposed limits, restore self-esteem, and boost willpower, all while emitting a strong, but quiet energy. It can deflect harmful energies from the atmosphere and aid in ascension by assisting in the integration of high vibrations into the physical body. By boosting self-confidence and cultivating concentration, hematite will help you find calm in the midst of chaos.


Rutile is a fascinating mineral because it has such a wide range of different habits and colours. It has a variety of distinct crystal shapes, as well as distinct colours, patterns, and associations. Rutile crystals can vary in appearance from mirror-like metallic crystals to dark reddish sub-metallic crystals and bright golden-yellow needles. Under backlighting, even the opaque metallic-looking forms become transparent around the edges, with a dark red translucent tinge. Rutile is famous for forming needle-like inclusions in other minerals, especially Quartz, in the form of long and slender yellow straw-like crystals. Within a host mineral, these inclusions can range from scattered needles to thick parallel fibres. Rutilated Quartz is the name given to this mixture of minerals, which is used as a collector's mineral and a gemstone. Some gemstones, such as Star Sapphire, have asterism or chatoyancy effects caused by rutile inclusions. These unusual optical effects are created by small, parallel Rutile fibres that develop within the host mineral. The mineral rutile is the most common titanium dioxide mineral. Brookite and Anatase are two rarer polymorphs that each have their own distinct crystals.

FAQs on Rutile

1. Do We Have Rutile Diamonds?

Ans: There are no Rutile diamonds. But,  Rutile, on the other hand, has a moderate refractive index, high dispersion, and an adamantine luster. There are optical properties that can make a perfect gemstone, and rutile's properties are comparable to or better than diamond. Natural rutile, on the other hand, rarely has the clarity and colour needed to be used as a diamond substitute.

2. What are Rutile Uses?

Ans: Rutile is primarily used in the manufacture of refractory ceramics, as a pigment, and in the manufacture of titanium metal. Rutile, a finely powdered white pigment, is used in paints, plastics, paper, foods, and other applications that require a bright white colour. Titanium dioxide pigment is the most common application of titanium on the planet. Rutile nanoparticles are transparent to visible light but extremely effective at absorbing ultraviolet radiation. As compared to bulk rutile, the UV absorption of nano-sized rutile particles is blue-shifted, allowing the nanoparticles to absorb higher-energy UV radiation. As a result, they're used in sunscreens to protect skin from UV damage. The optical anomaly known as asterism is caused by small rutile needles found in gems. "Star" gems are those that have been asteriated. Star sapphires, rubies, and other "star" gems are highly prized and usually more expensive than their regular counterparts.

3. What is Rutile Crystal?

Ans: Rutile, also known as Red Schorl, is a rare titanium oxide mineral that crystallises as grains, masses, prismatic crystals, and long needle-like crystals in grains, masses, and prismatic crystals. Other minerals such as Quartz, Amethyst, and Hematite can be found with needle-shaped crystals entering them. These specimens are highly prized and often used in jewellery. This crystal can be found in a variety of colours, including gold, red, brown, and black.