In the Pink - with Rhodochrosite

My rural area continues to experience postal delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am practicing "safer at home" measures and will be shipping items once per week.

I'll keep you posted when I receive your order. Wishing you good health and hoping you stay safe in these unprecedented circumstances.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about pink these days. Wondering if the color psychology is true that pink can help you feel better. What do you think?

For my creative part, I’ve been drawn to pink stones lately, adding several new earrings to my shops that feature different pink gemstones. In this post, I’d like to introduce you to rhodochrosite.

Rhodochrosite has been a favorite stone of mine since I first learned the difference between it and rhodonite sitting with my dad as he cut and polished stones years and years ago. I liked knowing the somewhat complicated names of stones. I turned out to be a bit of a word nerd in life, enjoying things like taxonomy in biology and the nomenclature of chemical compounds.

Mineralogically speaking, rhodochrosite is a manganese carbonate mineral with color ranging from rose red to pink to shades of brown. It's name derives from the Greek "rhodokhros" meaning "of a rosy color". It is commercially important as a source of manganese for steel and aluminum alloys. Rhodochrosite is often associated with silver and lead deposits. However, manganese carbonate interferes with silver purification, so the rhodochrosite was historically discarded. Some pretty red crystals have been found in the dumps around silver mines.

Near Alma, Colorado (not far from my home) some of the most impressive rhodochrosite crystal specimens ever found were discovered in the 1960’s to 1990’s after the Sweet Home mine stopped silver production.

               

Some examples of amazing rhodochrosite crystal specimens from the Sweet Home deposits near Alma, Colorado

Quality mineral specimens from Sweet Home are prized collectors’ items. In 2002, rhodochrosite was named the official Colorado state mineral. Especially fine crystals can be suitable for cutting faceted stones.  But since rhodochrosite is soft and cleaves readily, faceting is difficult. Plus, a fine crystal specimen is more valuable left alone.

This rare, faceted rhodochrosite cusion was cut from material obtained from the famous Sweet Home Mine near Alma, Colorado. It has a nice orangish pink color, measures 6.7 x 6.2 millimeters and weighs 1.52 carats. Photo by Bradley Payne, TheGemTrader.com

The rhodochrosite of my memory, and what I am able to get today, is material cut into cabochon or beads. It is beautifully banded with white and grey on pink or brown background. Spectacular concentric striped specimens are found in ancient Inca mines in northwest Argentina (formerly silver, lead, gold, and copper mines) and where the rhodochrosite formed as stalactites and stalagmites. Massive veins are also found there and used as lapidary rough and gemstone bead material.

        

 

Rhodochrosite from Capillitas Mine, Argentina

 

Wherever it comes from, I’m happy to have a little rhodochrosite in my stash. I enjoy designing with these unusual pink stones. Here are a few recent pieces I’ve made using rhodochrosite beads. Click the photos to see the listing details.

Rhodochrosite Pebbles in Sterling Silver Circle Hoops at PebblesAtMyFeet.com

Earthy Copper Hoop Earrings with Rhodochrosite Coins at PebblesAtMyFeet on Etsy

Raw Rhodochrosite Accented Dumortierite Earrings at PebblesAtMyFeet.com

Rhodochrosite Sterling Silver Oval Hoop Earrings at PebblesAtMyFeet on Etsy

 

I used these sources in this post, and encourage you to click and read more about rhodochrosite.

https://geology.com/minerals/rhodochrosite.shtml

https://www.summitdaily.com/news/regional/colorado-gem-hunters-are-back-near-an-alma-mine-that-was-once-the-continents-best-source-of-rhodochrosite-the-official-state-mineral/

https://geology.com/gemstones/states/colorado.shtml

http://www.treasuremountainmining.com/index.php?route=pavblog/blog&id=129

 

Did you recognize rhodochrosite or know its name before? I hope you learned something new and will look for this lovely pink stone in handcrafted jewelry. I’d love to hear from you; leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!

Pamela

Pebbles At My Feet Natural Stone Adornments

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