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The Gemstone Rhodonite

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Rhodonite Cabochons
PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
Chemistry: (Mn, Fe, Mg, Ca)5(SiO3)5
Composition: Manganese Iron Magnesium Calcium Silicate
Class: Silicates
Subclass: Inosilicates
Group: Pyroxenoid
Crystal System: Triclinic, often massive
Fracture: conchoidal
Hardness: 5.5 - 6.5
Specific Gravity: apx. 3.4 - 3.7
Luster: vitreous to dull to pearly
Streak: white
Color: pink to red or orange
Cleavage: perfect in two directions
Transparency: Massive is opaque crystals may be translucent
Associated Minerals: calcite, pyrite, microcline, spessartine, pyroxmangite and other manganese minerals

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS:

Rhodonite is typically pink to red or orange and even black. It's beautiful pink color often has black manganese oxide veins running through it, giving it a distinct appearance. For this reason it is carved into beads, cabochons, and ornamental objects. In 18th century Russia, it was used extensively for decorating the Russian court.
 
ENVIRONMENT:
A mineral of metamorphic rocks, related to manganese ganese occurrences, often with ore veins.

CRYSTAL DESCRIPTION:
Rhodonite typically comes in massive, coarse and fine granular aggregates. Transparent crystals are rare and fragile. But some are still found and distributed on the mineral markets. They come from a few notable localities and are considered classics by collectors. Crystals are generally translucent and rarely transparent.

TESTS:
Fuses to a brown glass. Gives manganese test in borax bead. Also lack of reaction to acid and hardness

LOCALITIES:
Some of the more notable occurrences of Rhodonite. Are the Ural Mountains, Russia; Broken Hill, Australia; Langban, Sweden; Menas Gerais, Brazil; Massachusetts; Franklin, New Jersey and Canada. Some of the lesser known occurrences are right here in our Northwestern USA. Rhodonite has been found in California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and here in Idaho near New Meadows.

Our Idaho material has been unavailable for many years. We have some of this material from old collections and some of it is stunning. It comes in verities from very deep pink with dark black lines to brown and pink laced with yellow Spassartite Garnet.

USES:
Rare mineral specimens, semi-precious stone and as a minor ore of manganese

FACTS & HISTORY:
Rhodonite is named after the Greek word for rose, rhodon. Its rose-pink color is distinctive and can only be confused with rhodochrosite and the rare mineral, pyroxmangite, MnSiO3. Rhodochrosite however is streaked with white minerals such as calcite and is reactive to acids. While Rhodonite does not react to acids and is usually associated with black manganese minerals and pyrite.

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