Rhodochrosite is a mineral that is esteemed for its intense pink, red or rose colors, though some specimens are gray, brown or orange. It is a type of manganese carbonate and belongs to a family of minerals called calcites that are capable of partially or fully transforming into each other over time. When exposing it to air, rhodochrosite sometimes acquires a layer of manganese oxide that can darken it, and it can turn into types of manganese oxides such as manganite. Though it can be cut, polished and faceted, rhodochrosite is often slabbed or carved into beads and bibelots. Let’s learn more about it.

rhodochrosite cluster

History of Rhodochrosite

The first mention of the mineral claims that it was discovered in Romania in 1813, though stalactites and stalagmites of the mineral were and are found in silver mines used by 13th century Incas. These stalactites and stalagmites feature beautiful multi-hued bands that are sought after by collectors.

The mineral was given its name by Johann Friedrich Ludwig Hausmann, a mineralogist born in Hannover, Germany and comes from the Greek for “rose coloring.”

Rhodochrosite is found in copper mines and in pegmatites and lead sulfides, in veins formed by hot water bubbling up from the Earth and in sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks. It’s a common ore of manganese. Veins of the mineral were discovered in Colorado in the 1870s, Argentina in the 1930s and South Africa in the 1970s.

Rhodochrosite has been the state mineral of Colorado since 2002.

Properties of Rhodochrosite

Chemical properties

The chemical formula of rhodochrosite is MnCO3, though the mineral can contain accessory iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc or cobalt. It is a soft mineral with a hardness rating of 3.5 to 4 on the Mohs hardness scale. It leaves a white line when scraping it across a streak plate. Rhodochrosite has a hexagonal crystal system, which means the crystals are often six-sided.

Physical properties

Rhodochrosite is most often a rhombus, whose sides are of different angles in relation to each other. Its cleavage is perfect and rhombohedral, which means it naturally cleaves into smaller rhombohedrons. The cleavage is in three directions and this, combined with the mineral’s softness, makes the crystal hard to cut and polish. Examples of the mineral that are finally cut, polished and faceted are too fragile to wear as everyday jewelry.

Rhodochrosite can also be found as scalenohedrons, whose crystals look somewhat like two pyramids joined together at the base. These types of crystals can consist of two parts or come in great clusters. Rhodochrosite crystals can be curved, saddle-shaped, grainy and resemble clusters of grapes. They radiate out from a central point, form crusts or appear as veins in other rocks and minerals.

Color and Varieties

The mineral is often opaque but can be translucent or transparent and has a glassy to pearly luster. It has a specific gravity of 3.3 to 3.6, which makes it a brittle gem. When it’s fractured, the fracture is shell-shaped, irregular or even. When exposed to ultraviolet light, the crystal glows dark red. It bubbles and dissolves even in cold hydrochloric acid. Warm hydrochloric acid hastens these reactions.

The mineral has weak pleochroism, which means the color stays the same no matter what we view it from.

Other names for the mineral are raspberry spar and Inca rose. It comes in three main varieties:

  • Capillitite has yellow and gray bands.
  • Kutnohorite is a calcic, transitional mineral between rhodochrosite and aragonite.
  • Rosinca is the same as Inca rose. It is the prized, pink and rose banded mineral found as stalagmites and stalactites.

closeup on a pink rhodochrosite

Metaphysical Details About Rhodochrosite

The main attributes of this crystal are compassion, selfless love and an ability to give the wearer a vibrant, positive attitude. It expands consciousness and erotic passion and joins the energies of the spiritual and the physical.

Rhodochrosite supports romantic relationships and helps people heal from a feeling of lovelessness and from abuse. The mineral helps people attract their soulmate, but perhaps not in the way they believe or want. A soulmate is a person who helps another learn life lessons, and this may not always be blissful. Nonetheless, rhodochrosite helps the heart absorb painful lessons without closing down. It also expels denial and helps the wearer see the truth of a situation.

The mineral clears the base and solar plexus chakras and helps uncover painful and repressed feelings but in a gentle way. This allows one to acknowledge and then release these feelings. It helps the wearer understand the purpose behind whatever they have experienced.

Rhodochrosite invigorates mental energy and enhances creativity, spontaneity and dream states. It links the person to their higher mind, thus helping them integrate new information. This gem can also lighten depressive moods.

The mineral removes irritants and is good for asthma and other problems of the upper respiratory tract. It purifies the blood and the kidneys, helps with poor eyesight, regulates blood pressure and heartbeat and relieves migraine headaches. An elixir made of rhodochrosite fights infections and supports the health of the skin and the thyroid gland.

One should wear rhodochrosite on the wrist, over the heart or solar plexus. A person who suffers from migraines should place the mineral on the top part of their spine.

Famous Examples of Rhodochrosite

Some beautiful rhodochrosite specimens come from the Sweet Home Mine in Alma, Colorado. These crystals are popular due to their bright cerise color and their translucence. One is the brilliant red “Searchlight.” Another is the “Alma King,” which is so far the largest rhodochrosite crystal. It is 14 centimeters by 16.5 centimeters, or about 5 1/2 inches by 6 1/2 inches and is a perfect rhombohedron. A smaller specimen from the Sweet Home Mine is the “Alma Rose.”

Alma King rhodochrosite

Where to Find Rhodochrosite Today

Besides the famous gems, we can find good specimens of the mineral in Mexico, Peru, China, Japan, and Ukraine. Aggregates that resemble clusters of grapes are found in Germany’s Wolf Mine. There are mines in Montana, and we can also find a brick-red type of rhodochrosite in Quebec, Canada.

The unique rhodochrosite is beloved by people who display slabs with lush pink and rose bands, who wear it as high polished cabochons or faceted gems and who collect it carved into tiny boxes or figurines. Do you own such a gem? We’d love to hear how this pink beauty’s metaphysical properties help you in your everyday life.