A recent investigation of sphalerite from Akoluk deposit, Ordu, NE Turkey, revealed the possible presence of a new activator element in the sphalerite structure. The sample was studied under a reflected light microscope coupled with a cold-stage cathodoluminescence (CL) system which revealed a unique banding in the sphalerite. The same sample was subsequently examined using the back-scattered electron and luminescence modes in an electron microscope, the results of which were later confirmed in terms of chemical composition by electron probe microanalyses (EPMA). Detailed evaluation of the EPMA data indicated the presence of a new CL activator element in the sphalerite structure. The data also indicate that Hg2+ in the sphalerite crystal structure substitutes for Zn in a simple manner and for Cd and Cu in a coupled manner. Spectral analysis indicated a bright yellow and orange-red blend (more like brown) CL colour with λmax centred at 580 nm, probably due to Cd and Mn ions, and relatively broad emission bands ranging from 525 to 690 nm with λmax centred at 580 and 700, due probably to Cu, Cd and Hg. This study reports that Hg in the sphalerite crystal lattice behaves as an activator and/or co-activator element resulting in emissions of CL colours that range from yellow with purple shades to shades of brown, based on their varying contents.