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Rhodochrosite and its deep red and hot pink crystals make it one of our favorites. Rhodochrosite is typically a rose-red color, but impure specimens can be shades of pink to pale brown. It streaks white, and it between 3.5 and 4 on the Mohs Hardness scale. It is often confused with rhodonite but is distinctly softer and really shouldn't be confused, they look much different from each other.
Rhodochrosite is found among silver ores, and so until quality mineral specimens became highly sought after by collectors, they were often discarded on the silver mine dump! The Sweet Home Mine in Colorado provided a fascinating discovery in the 1960's with some of the largest and most stunning rhodochrosite crystals ever found. The largest rhodochrosite crystal, called the "Alma King", is a single 15 cm crystal that was found in the Sweet Home Mine in 1992. Colorado officially named rhodochrosite as its state mineral in 2002.
South Africa and Peru also produce intense red transparent crystals that are desirable to collectors. Rhodochrosite is Argentina's national gemstone, there rhodochrosite forms stalagmites and stalactites that formed from precipitating water dripping from the manganese-rich rock inside the ancient mine tunnels, and kept on growing over the centuries into large stalagmites. These stalagmites are beautifully banded and are often sliced and polished into slabs for collectors and may be cut and polished for jewelry.
Rhodochrosite cabochon cut by Beverly Jenkins