Rhodocrosite in matrix from Sweet Home Mine, Colorado. Photo by Rob Lavinsky at http://www.irocks.com/
I am trying to get out of the habit of making these weekly gem reports biweekly, and a good friend gave me fun suggestions that I will research for your viewing pleasure. Today’s is a favorite of carvers and rock hounds since its discovery in the 1950’s and is a relative newcomer in the jewelry market, but gaining popularity.
Named from the Greek rhodon for “rose” and chroma for “color,” rhodocrosite gets its cheerful watermelon and pastel pinks from manganese and has the simple chemical formula of MnCO3. Rhodocrosite occurs in hydrothermal veins, usually alongside copper, silver, and lead, and was actually discarded as junk ore from metal mining until people began to admire its beauty. This was the case in Romania, home to some of the finest rhodocrosite deposits, with Colorado and Argentina being other famous bearers.
Rhodocrosite is classically identified by its layered, “bacon strip” pattern of pink and white, but it also occurs in a lovely translucent “gel” form. Unfortunately, the stone is easily damaged and soft at around 4 Mohs, meaning it has to be treated with care. Today, most rhodochrosite is used as an industrial mineral in the production of steel and ceramic tile. The finest specimens reside with collectors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a nice cut stone for wearing.
Argentinian rhodocrosite. Image by R.Weller at Cochise College http://skywalker.cochise.edu/wellerr/mingem/gemtl/rhodochrosite/rhodochrosite1.htm
The ancient Incas believed the stone was the solidified blood of their past rulers, lending the mineral its nickname, “Inca Rose.” Also known as the “Stone of Love and Balance,” rhodocrosite is suggested as an aide for mending a hurting heart, tackling life’s changes with bravado and wisdom, and for bringing calm in troubling times.