Gem Profile- Rhodonite
by Judy Ellis

Distinctive and beautiful, the rhodonite gemstone is found all over the world, and is slightly softer than quartz. Rhodonite is the official gem of Massachusetts. Rhodonite is named for its rosy color (from the Greek rhodos, meaning rosy), and it often has light beige and black inclusions.

Rhodonite Facts

Rhodonite comes from the Greek "rhodon," which means rosy, and its scientific name is manganese inosilicate. Rhodochrosite, which was last week's gem, morphs into rhodonite at extremely high temperatures. Because of this, rhodonite is much harder than rhodochrosite. It ranges from a 5.5 to a 6.5 on the Mohs scale and has a specific gravity of 3.5 to 3.7. Black streaks created by manganese oxide run throughout rhodonite. These black streaks rapidly increase when rhodonite is brought to the surface. Like rhodochrosite, rhodonite is very finely grained and commonly occurs in large masses. It has a glassy appearance and is structured much like a prism, with nearly perfect right angles. Rhodonite is pink to rose-red, or it can even be a brownish or brick-red color.

Wire wrapped Rhodonite pendant by Janet Cozzens
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Rhodonite - , General Education, , Wire wrapped rhodonite pendant
Rhodonite History and Sources

Rhodonite is found in several locations. One of these is Franklin, New Jersey. When Franklin was first founded, citizens discovered large, symmetrical pieces of rhodonite that were embedded in calcite (calcite is an extremely common, often fluorescent, white mineral that has a powdery texture and can be easily chipped away). The townspeople also found small, sharply angled pieces with an extremely dark hue. Rhodonite pieces like this have also been found in Congonhas, Brazil. Other rhodonite locations in the United States include Plainfield, Massachusetts and California. Locations around the world include the Minas Gerais in Brazil, and mines in Tanzania, England, Japan, and Siberia. Russia's Ural Mountains also have large masses of rhodonite that are ideal for carving.

Rhodonite Necklace by Beverly Brown
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Rhodonite - , General Education, , Rhodonite Necklace
Some of the purest gemstone specimens of rhodonite are located in New South Wales, Australia in the Broken Hill Mines. These rhodonite pieces are embedded in galena, which is the natural mineral form of lead sulfide; lead sulfide is the substance that was once used in pencils before graphite. There are several minerals found with rhodonite at the Broken Hill Mines. Some of these minerals may be confused with rhodonite, because they contain the same materials and have similar coloring. One, pyroxmagnite, is nearly the same as rhodonite. However, this mineral forms at a lower temperature and has a different crystal structure. Bustamite can also be confused with rhodonite, but about 20% of the manganese in rhodonite is replaced with calcium oxide, making bustamite more brown than pink. One way to tell rhodonite from these other minerals is it does not react with acid, and it can also be fused to brown glass easily.

Rhodonite wrapped in a bracelet with sterling silver wire by Tina Bowersox
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Rhodonite - , General Education, , Rhodonite wrapped in a bracelet
Rhodonite in Culture

In jewelry making, rhodonite is mostly cut into cabochons and beads for use in earrings and cabochons. Many jewelry makers prefer the black-streaked pieces of rhodonite to the plain pink because the streaks give the rhodonite an extra spark of personality. Rhodonite also polishes up very well in a tumbler, so many people buy large pieces of rhodonite to polish and use as paperweights. On very rare occasions, rhodonite can be found as transparent to translucent material that is faceted into gemstones for collectors. Gem cutters must take great care when faceting the stone because it is extremely fragile.

Rhodonite pendant in sterling silver wire by Jane Duke
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Rhodonite - , General Education, , Rhodonite silver pendant
Rhodonite was also once an extremely popular ornamental stone. In the mid-19th century, rhodonite was carved into exquisite table sets, vases, bowls, and tabletops. Rhodonite was also used in 1733 to make the tomb of Alexander II and his wife. A 7 ton slab of rhodonite and jasper form the tomb, which lies in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

Rhodonite and sterling silver bead bracelet wrapped with Argentium silver wire by Teresa McMahon

Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Rhodonite - , General Education, , Rhodonite and sterling silver bead bracelet
As a healing stone, rhodonite is associated with the heart chakra and is said to bring peace, self-confidence, elegance, gratitude, courtesy and tactfulness, and to help a person to find his or her inner path. Rhodonite is also said to reduce scarring and heal wounds and insect bites, as well as aiding bone growth.

Rhodonite cabochon wrapped with antique brass wire and hung on a necklace of rhodonite and brass beads by Holly Denny
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Rhodonite - , General Education, , Rhodonite cabochon pendant

Print Resources:

Eyewitness Handbooks' Rocks and Minerals by Chris Pellant, ISBN 1-56458-033-4
Peterson Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals by Frederick H. Pough, ISBN-0-395-91096-X
Smithsonian Rock and Gem by Ronald Louis Bonewitz, ISBN 0-7566-0962-3

Internet Resources:


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