R is for Rhodochrosite
The first time I was introduced to rhodochrosite was in my lapidary class. One of my fellow students was struggling to get a polish on a piece of the pink and white material. It was the first pink ‘rock’ I had seen. She purchased a slab (a mineral that has been cut into a slice but not shaped or polished) from a man at the local flea market. I even went to the flea market to try to find him to no avail.
Rhodochrosite is otherwise known as manganese carbonate, a minor ore of manganese. Manganese is an important mineral for the human body and is available naturally through leafy greens, beans, nuts, etc., and is included in most multi-vitamin supplements.
As a gemstone it can be a deep pink, or more frequently a banded stone with varying degrees of the color pink and often containing some streaks of brown. It is a relatively soft stone (the reason my fellow student was having a difficult time achieving a polish) coming in at a 3.5 – 4 on the Mohs scale. It is rated as having low toxicity although I have read it can contain trace amounts of lead.
Let’s take a minute and talk about safety and common sense. Unbelievable as it may seem, I have read an article or two advocating making elixirs by soaking minerals in water and consuming them. DO NOT DO THAT. Minerals are intertwined with so many elements and other minerals (many being toxic) it is an extremely risky practice.
This is a beautiful crystal specimen of rhodochrosite mined in Colorado. It is part of the mineral collection in the National Museum of American history.
This video shows some highly polished rhodocrosite cabochons. This is the color patterns most often seen. Finding pure pink rhodochrosite is rare.