The Story of Rhodochrosite Gemstones


Consumer Information

What color is it?: As shown above a mottled red/pink with white veins in its massive form. Red to pink in crystals.

What is the story behind this gemstone?: Very nice gemstone for cabochons in its massive form as shown by the heart pendant above. Makes very nice Valentine’s Day gifts for obvious reasons.

Can I wear it everyday?: Yes, it wears well. But not the crystal form. Faceted rhodochrosite is brittle.

Is it expensive?: No, in fact it is very inexpensive for the great look you get.

Is it a birthstone?: No.

What do I need to know before going shopping?: Just that you may not see this gemstone very often. Most often it is used by arts and crafts people who string beads of it to make those cheesy necklaces sold at flea markets. But once in a while you can find a serious jewelry designer who uses rhodochrosite to make some nice jewelry items that are both beautiful and cost effective.

General Information

Above: a rare crystalline form of rhodochrosite from Peru

Source: Colorado, USA and Peru

Chemical: MnCO3

Formation: Hydrothermal vents

Crystal System: Hexagonal

Unusual Properties: Rare in transparent crystalline form

Gemological Information

RI: 1.597 – 1.817

Birefringence: .220 (yes, that’s no typo….keep that in mind for later)

Optic Character: U-

Specific Gravity: 3.60 +-

Hardness: 3.5 – 4

Transparency: Opaque to TP

Special Identifying Properties and Tests: Birefringence is diagnostic. Nothing else can touch it. In fact, if your not careful you will think your refractometer has lost its marbles if you don’t keep this gemstone in mind for TP red gemstones.

Synthetics: Not yet

Imitations: Many possibilities

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