Looking for an unusually coloured gemstone to add to your latest designs? Well, if your jewellery making is complemented by soft pastel tones, you may want to learn more about the pink tones of the rhodochrosite gemstone.
What is the rhodochrosite gemstone?
Rhodocrosite is a manganese carbonate mineral that ranges from a subtle rose pink to a bright pink fuscia red, sometimes found with zig zags of white throughout the stone. Why is rhodochrosite pink? The pink colour comes from the manganese in the stone and subtly changes across each layer as the stone forms over time. Raw rhodochrosite is formed in fractures of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, often produced as a byproduct in silver mines.
How is rhodochrosite formed?
In metamorphic rock formations, rhodochrosite fills out fractures in the rock where it repeatedly ascends and is captured over time. The repeated formation of the mineral allows it to build up in layers, each time producing a pink colour of a slightly different hue from the last. The raw rhodochrosite is then released from the fractures in the metamorphic rock cut into thick slabs, which can later be cut into cabochons for jewellery designs and other ornaments.
Raw rhodochrosite is also formed in sedimentary rocks. The minerals descend and form on the walls of the cavity, sometimes in stalactite form. This can occur on the floor and the roof of a cave, and these formations are removed and formed into slabs as above.
|Chemical formula:||MnCO3 Manganese carbonate|
|Lustre:||Vitreous to pearly|
|Clarity:||Opaque with some transparent crytals visible|
|Cleavage:||Perfect in three directions, rarely faceted|
|Cut:||Usually cut en cabochon – crystal formations are rare|
|Chemical treatment:||No chemical treatment|
Where is rhodochrosite found?
Raw rhodochrosite is found in just a few locations worldwide: Argentina, South Africa, Peru, Romania, Japan, Mexico, and Russia.
Real rhodochrosite crystals are only found in one location in a mine in Colorado. The Sweet Home Mine in Alma was originally a silver mine back in the late 1800s where the raw rhodochrosite was disposed of at the time. But as its popularity increased, the rhodochrosite crystals soon became worth a lot more than their lapidiary counterpart.
How to identify rhodochrosite
Rhodochrosite is usually easy to identify with a little practice because it’s not very similar to a lot of other minerals. The gemstone’s colour, softness, and cleavage is rarely seen altogether in other stones. The only other mineral that raw rhodochrosite is sometimes confused with is rhodonite because both have a similar pink colour – and their names are similar too!
What’s the difference between rhodonite and rhodochrosite?
Rhodochrosite and rhodonite are very similar stones because they both contain manganese. Rhodochrosite is a manganese mineral whereas rhodonite is a manganese silicate. Both stones have similar rose pink colours, but the difference between the two is that rhodonite features black inclusions (black manganese oxide) and rhodochrosite has white inclusions (manganese carbonate).
Is rhodochrosite valuable?
The commonly found rhodochrosite lapidiary stone is not a particularly expensive stone to introduce to your designs. However, rare red rhodochrosite crystals are much less commonly found and mined making them a much more expensive stone to track down. Even small palm-sized red rhodochrosite crystal formations can be sold for tens of thousands of pounds.
How to use rhodochrosite in your jewellery designs
Plan on introducing rhodochrosite gemstones to your jewellery designs? A good place to start is with pendants and earrings as they see less wear and tear. But if you do plan on adding some rhodochrosite cabochons to your ring designs, make sure you use a protective setting such as a bezel setting that will protect the stone if it’s worn on a regular basis.
Rhodochrosite gemstone jewellery care
How do you clean rhodochrosite?
Rhodochrosite gemstones are very soft so should be treated with care whenever it’s cleaned to avoid damage. In fact, it’s so soft that even wiping it may cause scratches. So how can you prevent this? Make sure that you use a soft cloth and some soapy water to avoid putting scratches into the stone itself. Remove any excess soap by rinsing properly. Don’t be tempted to use your ultrasonic cleaner with any rhodochrosite jewellery and when you store it away try to keep it separate from other jewellery and gemstones to avoid scratches.