Rhodochrosite - Mineral and Healing Properties

Chemistry: MnCO3, Manganese Carbonate

Class: Carbonates

Group: Calcite Group

Uses: As a minor ore of manganese, an ornamental and semi-precious gemstone and as mineral specimens.


  • Rhodocrosite
  • Crystal Cluster
  • Massive
  • Faceted Gemstone


Rhodochrosite (whose name means rose-colored) is a very attractive mineral with an absolutely one-of-a-kind, beautiful color. Although it can be an ore of manganese, it is its ornamental and display specimen qualities that make it a very popular mineral. The color of a single crystal can just astound the observer with its vivid pink-rose color that seems to be transmitted out of the crystal as if lit from within. Individual crystals are found in well shaped rhombohedrons and more rarely scalahedrons. In a massive form its pink and white bands are extremely attractive and are often used in semi-precious jewelry. Rhodochrosite is often carved into figurines and tubular stalactitic forms are sliced into circles with concentric bands that are truly unique in the mineral kingdom. Fine crystals are sometimes cut into gemstones, but rhodochrosite's softness and brittleness limit it as a gemstone for everyday use.

Identification of rhodochrosite is fairly easy despite a few similarly colored minerals such as rhodonite. Rhodonite is harder and has different cleavage; but perhaps the best distinguishing factor is its lack of reaction to acids. Rhodochrosite will easily with show some reaction to cold acids which demonstrates its carbonate chemistry. Basically, any rose-pink carbonate is considered rhodochrosite; however some calcites with a small amount of manganese impurities can be pink in color. The manganese replaces some of the calcium's in calcite but a complete series between calcite and rhodochrosite is not established. Differentiating pink calcite from rhodochrosite may require a fluorescence test as rhodochrosite is distinctly non-fluorescent and manganese is a fluorescent activator in calcite.

Origin Of The Name

The name Rhodochrosite comes from the Greek words rhodon which means "rose" and the word chros which means "color". It was first described in 1813 in reference to a sample from Cavnic, Maramures, present-day Romania. According to Dimitrescu and Radulescu, 1966 and to Papp, 1997, this mineral was described for the first time in Sacaramb, Romania, not in Cavnic, Romania.

Interesting Facts

Rhodochrosite is considered to be the most powerful love stone.

Colorado officially named rhodochrosite as its state mineral in 2002 based on a proposal by a local high school (Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colorado). The reason for this lies in the fact that while the mineral is found worldwide, large red crystals are found only in a few places on earth, and some of the best specimens have been found in the Sweet Home Mine near Alma, Colorado. The Alma King is the largest known rhodochrosite crystal; it was found in the Sweet Home Mine near Alma, Colorado. It is on display in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

The Incas believed that rhodochrosite is the blood of their former rulers, turned to stone, therefore it is sometimes called "Rosa del Inca" or "Inca Rose".

Where Is It Found

Rhodochrosite occurs as a hydrothermal vein mineral along with other manganese minerals in low temperature ore deposits. There are many localities for rhodochrosite that are of great reknown. Beyond a doubt, the best locality for rhodochrosite is the Sweet Home Mine in Colorado. It is unmatched for its superb rhodochrosite crystals that exhibit the best features of the species; a fine bright rose color and sharp well formed crystals. Some specimens from here are quite large and of world class distinction.

Other localities have produced some fine specimens as well. Catamarca, Argentina has an old Inca silver mine that has produced fine stalatitic examples of rhodochrosite that are unique and very attractive. Cut cross-sections reveal concentric bands of light and dark rose colored layers. These specimens are carved and used for many ornamental purposes.

Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, Canada has produced many fine rare minerals but it also produces some nice rhodochrosite specimens as well. Specimens from here are generally small, but have a good color and are associated with rarer minerals.

There are many Peruvian rhodochrosite localities that have produced a number of good specimens. These crystals are usually paler in color than other specimens, but are accented by interesting metal sulfide minerals.

N'Chwanging Mine, Hotazel, South Africa has produced possibly the best examples of scalahedral crystals of rhodochrosite. The unusual crystal habit is due in part to this being one of a few sedimentary crystallizing environments for the species. Most other localities are the result of metamorphism, late stage igneous intrusion or more commonly hydrothermal precipitation.

What Do We Do With It

Rhodochrosite is widely used in jewelery and every mineral collection is not without its beautiful color.

Rhodochrosite is a source of manganese which Manganese is a huge factor in the production of iron and steel. Manganese helps make inexpensive stainless steel and is also used in aluminum alloys. In steel, manganese enhanced the rolling and forging properties. Manganese also adds strength, toughness, stiffness, wear resistance, and hardness to the steel. In aluminum and antimony, manganese also makes highly ferromagnetic compounds, especially with a little copper. Manganese oxide (MnO) is used in fertilizers and ceramics, and manganese carbonate (MnCO3) is a material used in other manganese compounds.

Metaphysical Uses

Rhodochrosite is considered to be the most powerful love stone. It is said to attract the perfect love and to enable the wearer to achieve self-love, tolerance, forgiveness, and friendship. Crystal healers also use Rhodochrosite to raise the energy lever of the wearer, and do remove avoidance and denial.

Physical Characteristics

Color: Red to pink, sometimes almost white, yellow and brown.

Luster: Vitreous to resinous.

Transparency: : Crystals are transparent to translucent.

Crystal System: Trigonal; bar 3 2/m.

Crystal Habits: Rhombohedrons and scalahedrons with rounded or curved faces that can obscure the crystal shape. Some crystals can be flattened to a bladed habit and these are sometimes aggregated into rosettes or minute crystals into spherules. Also botryoidal, globular, stalactitic, layered, nodular, vein-filling and granular. Twinning is somewhat common forming penetration twins and contact twins similar to calcite's twins.

Cleavage: Perfect in three directions forming rhombohedrons.

Fracture: Uneven

Hardness: 3.5 - 4

Specific Gravity: Approximately 3.5 (above average)

Streak: White

Other Characteristics: Pink and white banding in massive forms, non-fluorescence and specimens effervesce easily with dilute acids.

Associated Minerals: Calcite, ankerite, alabandite, rhodonite, bementite, spessartine, fluorite, manganite, quartz and many metal sulfides.

Best Field Indicators: Color, crystal habit, reaction to acid, non-fluorescence and perfect cleavage.

Educational Videos

Rhodochrosite Stalactite Slice - Argentina

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