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Sphalerite Ores

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Sphalerite ore, also known as blackjack, ruby blende, and zinc blende is a mineral and ore of zinc with a chemical composition of ((Zn, Fe)S). It was discovered by Ernst Friedrich Glocker in 1847, who named it based on the Greek word “sphaleros” meaning deceiving or treacherous because its lustrous dark crystals can be misguided for other minerals. Sphalerites are found in different deposit types but are primarily found in sedimentary exhalative, Mississippi-Valley type, and volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits. It is most commonly used for zinc, bronze, gemstones, galvanization, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. 

Sphalerite is found in association with pyrite, galena, calciate, dolomite quartz, fluorite, and rhodochrosite. 

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Sphalerite Mineral Properties

Sphalerite is a common mineral and occurs in distinct colors and forms. Iron impurities are often present in the minerals, and for this reason, it is commonly known as transparent. If sphalerite contains large amounts of iron impurities, it will have a metallic dark grey or black material, which is generally of more sulfide materials. Sphalerite is one of the few minerals that ranges from gemmy transparent crystals to dark metallic-black crystals.

The Table Given below Shows the Physical Properties of Sphalerite.

Sphalerite Physical Properties

Physical Properties of Sphalerite 


Yellow, Green, Light To Dark Brown, Colourless, Light Blue, Black , Red-Brown.


Adamantine, Resinous


Pale Yellow, Brownish, White

Moho Hardness

3.5 - 4.0




Perfect Perfect {011}


Uneven to Conchoidal


3.9 - 4.1g/cm³

Crystal System


Refractive Index

2.369, almost as high as diamond’s 2.42

Other Characteristics

Non- magnetic, non-radioactivity, triboluminescent, and fluorescent 


Sphalerite Chemical Properties

Chemical Classification

Sulfide Mineral

Chemical Formula

((Zn, Fe)S)

Sphalerite Healing Properties

The crystal sphalerite is a good healing stone as it helps to support the immune system and can help to recover rapidly from infections. One of the important sphalerite healing properties is that this crystal helps to heal the issues that affect the eyes and also helps to assist the nervous system. 

Sphalerite is an excellent stone for the athletes to use as it helps them to get back to normal more quickly after every exercise. It also helps to rapidly replenish the oxygen in the blood.

The crystal vibrates with the sacral chakra which is the area of the body that helps to enhance your creativity. Also, it provides relief to the problems affecting the livers and kidneys.

Sphalerite Uses

  • Sphalerite is used as a gemstone. Crystals of suitable size and transparency are used to create gemstones, usually featuring the excellent cut to best exhibit the sphalerite high dispersion of 0.356, over three times of diamond. 

  • The zinc in sphalerite is used to obtain brass, an alloy of copper with 3-4% zinc.

  • Mined zinc from sphalerite can be used to produce zinc supplements for agronomic biofortification, and food fortification.

  • Zinc in sphalerite can also be used to produce certain types of bronze.

  • Sphalerites industries are used in batteries, brass, and galvanized iron.

Galena and Sphalerite

Galena (Pbs) and sphalerite (Zns) are plentiful on Earth and generally exist together in the same deposit. Most lead-zinc ores are refined by distinct floatation in which galena is recorded first followed by sphalerite. The presence of lead ions (Pb²⁺) in ore pulp can directly encourage sphalerite flotation. Lead ions are considered to be able to replace zinc in the sphalerite lattice to form galena or to be absorbed on the sphalerite surface in the form of Pb -O- Zn. at nearly neutral Ph conditions. 

According to Li Et al and Bai et al, zinc and lead ions can be released from sphalerite and galena during grinding. According to Rao and Natarajan, lead ions can be seen on the surface of sphalerite after it approaches galena in deionized water. It is widely believed that grinding has a considerable impact on the flotation of sulfide minerals. 

Did You Know ?

  • Sphalerite is often found with galena, a lead ore. 

  • Sphalerite is a mineral, mixed with zinc and iron sulfide.

  • The chemical formula of Sphalerite is (Zn, Fe)S.

  • The dispersion of sphalerite (0.156) is three times that of diamond, which has a dispersion of 0.44.

  • When the content of iron is high, sphalerite is often found in opaque black known as marmatite.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is Sphalerite?

Ans: Spaheriete is named after the Greek spheleore meaning deceitful, because the mineral was often mistaken for galena, but does not contain lead. The clear crystals are formed using the sphalerites with colors ranging from pale yellow to orange and red shades, with the presence of iron it forms dark, opaque metallic crystals. The gem-quality material often has red to range, yellowish to honey brown, or green color. The brilliant color of sphalerite displays high dispersion of 0.156 (three times as high for diamond). Sphalerite gems due to their softness and fragility are generally used as collector’s pieces and sometimes used to make pendants.  

2. How is Sphalerite Important?

Ans: Sphalerite is considered to be the most important zinc ore. Approximately 95% of all primary zinc is obtained from sphalerites ores. However, due to the different traced element content, sphalerite is an important source of many other elements such as gallium, germanium, cadmium, and indium.

3. Where is Sphalerite Found in the World?

Ans: The leading producers of sphalerite include Russia, Germany, Mexico, Canada, China, Ireland, United States, Peru, England, and  Kazakhstan.