Rhodochrosite is a manganese carbonate material that is usually of rose-red or pink color. It is usually found as a hydrothermal vein mineral in low-temperature ore deposits such as in the silver mines in Romania.
In this article, we are going to look at Rhodochrosite’s interaction with water and the best way of cleaning this gemstone. We will also look at several interesting properties of this mineral such as its hardness and cleavage, while also briefly discussing its uses. Finally, we will talk about the nature of its occurrence and how we can determine its authenticity.
What is Rhodochrosite?
Rhodochrosite is one of the most beautiful gemstones you will ever find, thanks to its variety of colors (ranging from pale brown to pink) and transparency. Because of its beauty, the mineral is sometimes called “Inca Rose” or Rosinca, and it is also the national gemstone of Argentina.
Rhodochrosite has perfect cleavage meaning that, when subjected to force, the mineral cleaves without leaving any rough surfaces and a smooth plane is formed. This makes cutting Rhodochrosite a slightly difficult task.
Can You Put Rhodochrosite in Water?
No. Rhodochrosite should not go in the water. This is because Rhodochrosite is a soft mineral and can get damaged in water. This is based on Mohs Hardness scale, which tells us about the scratch resistance of minerals based on a scale of 1 to 10. The harder the mineral, the greater value it has on the Mohs scale.
Minerals that have a value of less than 5 are not able to tolerate water well, and since Rhodochrosite’s Mohs hardness is 3.5-4, it falls within this category.
Because of its softness, Rhodochrosite is difficult to clean and polish. Yet, it serves as an important ore of manganese (used in making stainless steel). It is also used for making jewellery, although its fragility makes it suitable only for a few products. It is good for items like earrings and pendants, which suffer less wear and tear, but not so much for things like bracelets or rings.
How do You Clean Rhodochrosite?
As we just discussed, it’s not a great idea to put Rhodochrosite into water. But then how do you clean it? Some suggest that using hydrogen peroxide or hydrogen peroxide mixed with an acidic chemical is good enough to clean Rhodochrosite.
But, given the fragility of the material, it’s best to take it to a professional lab. With the right methods, they will ensure that your gemstone gets cleaned without damaging its quality.
For some reason, if you are unable to take it to a lab and want to do it yourself, you can try using a light mist of water. Fill a spray bottle with water and spray it in the air, so that the water comes out in the form of mist upon the gemstone.
Let the mineral dry for a while, and then you can polish it with a soft cloth. Using this method reduces the chances of damaging your gemstone. In any case, you should not simply place your Rhodochrosite stones into water directly, as they will be irrevocably damaged.
How Can You Tell if Rhodochrosite is Fake?
Before we determine the authenticity of Rhodochrosite, we must learn about its various kinds:
- The first and most popular kind has alternating stripes of pink (varying shades) mixed with other hues such as brown, grey, etc. It looks quite similar to agate and can be either transparent or opaque.
- The rarer kind is translucent and has a glassy appearance. This usually occurs as square or terminated crystals.
Now, there are several factors that you can consider while determining whether Rhodochrosite is real or fake:
1. Physical Properties: Rhodochrosite has distinguishing zigzag bands of stripes, mostly of red, pink, or raspberry color. You can also try looking at the hardness of the mineral and comparing that to the actual value of Rhodochrosite on the Mohs scale: 3.5 to 4.
2. Location: Most Rhodochrosite deposits are in Argentina, hence its choice as the national gemstone. The mineral is also found in other parts of South America (Mexico, Peru, etc.), the USA, and South Africa. Rhodochrosite was first discovered in Romania, and one can also find it in Hungary. Outside of these locations, it’s unlikely that you will this mineral.
3. Appearance: Rhodochrosite can be opaque, translucent, or even transparent. But it always has a glassy sheen, which is its distinguishing look.
Other identifiers include the hexagonal crystal structure of the mineral, its perfect cleavage, and an uneven or conchoidal fracture. A reference guide for identification is always of great assistance, and you can also get an actual piece of rhodochrosite when you are looking for more.
One important thing to remember is that people often confuse Rhodonite and Rhodochrosite. Their physical properties (as well as names) are quite similar. The distinguishing factor between the two is their banding and veining.
White/grey stripes run along the surface of rhodochrosite; black spots appear on rhodonite. Rhodonite has manganese oxide which creates a dark matrix, and its veining does not produce parallel lines like that of Rhodochrosite.
Is Rhodochrosite Rare or Common?
Yes, Rhodochrosite is quite a rare mineral. They are not as rare as diamonds but are close enough. The mineral is mostly found in South Africa, the USA, and countries of South America (Mexico, Argentina, etc.).
Rhodochrosite is found in two kinds of rocks:
1. Metamorphic Rocks: Metamorphic rocks originate from the transformation of an existing rock into new types of rock. Rhodochrosite found in these rocks is like veins, which travel through the rock and fill its fractures.
2. Sedimentary Rocks: Sedimentary rocks are formed by the accumulation of mineral or organic material. When found here, Rhodochrosite stones form stalagmites (upward-growing mounds of mineral deposits) and stalactites.
Because of their rarity, Rhodochrosite has the potential to be very valuable. And as more and more people are finding out about the beauty of this mineral, the demand is increasing further.
Why is Rhodochrosite so Expensive?
Rhodochrosite, in general, is expensive due to its rarity. But the value of the gemstone also depends on the kind of Rhodochrosite we are talking about. Different kinds cost different because of the following factors:
1. Color: Rhodochrosite comes in colors ranging from pink to pale brown. The color of the stone depends on the composition, and the presence of Calcium is usually why pink is the most prominent color among Rhodochrosite stones.
2. Transparency: Translucent rhodochrosite crystals are the rarest kind and they come in beautiful hues of pink and red. They have no inclusions visible to the naked eye and given their exquisite beauty, they can cost thousands of dollars.
3. Cut: As discussed earlier, because of their perfect cleavage and softness, Rhodochrosite stones are hard to cut. This means that carved stones are much costlier than actual Rhodochrosite crystals.
Color is the most important factor in determining the value of Rhodochrosite. While in most stones, dark colors are more expensive, here the case is different. Stones with light shades of red and pink are the most valuable ones. When these colors come in a translucent variety, they become the most expensive kind of Rhodochrosite.
Given the rarity and value of the mineral, some people try to take advantage of this by producing fake Rhodochrosite stones. These can be imitated cabochons or beads.
They use pink or white powdered mineral material and bound it with resin, giving the final product a banded appearance. It’s important therefore to look into the various considerations discussed above to identify the authenticity of Rhodochrosite.
Which Crystals Cannot go in the Water?
Generalizations don’t work very well when trying to figure out which crystals can go in the water; it’s best to always research the individual gemstone. Yet, there are a few guidelines that can help you:
- The Mohs Hardness Scale: As discussed earlier, crystals that have a value of less than 5 on the Mohs scale will get damaged in water.
- Iron Content: Iron ores or crystals that contain copper can rust when they come into contact with water. These should never be submerged in water.
- Nomenclature: If a crystal name ends with “ite”, it is most likely not meant to be put into water. Stones like Malachite, Calcite, and Fluorite should always be kept away from water.
These are some of the crystals that you should never put into the water:
- Lapis Lazuli
- Tiger’s Eye
If you are making something like a crystal water bottle, it becomes all the more important to research the crystal. Because not only can it get damaged when in contact with water, but it can also release harmful toxins into the water, causing serious health issues. You can check out this article to find out about crystals that are safe to put in drinking water.
So, Rhodochrosite, like several other crystals, is not going to react well with water. If you are looking to clean it, it’s best to take your gemstone to a professional lab or use a light mist of water.
In this article, besides the interaction of Rhodochrosite with water, we looked at the various properties of this mineral such as its cleavage, hardness, and physical appearance, while also discussing its uses. We talked about how depending on factors such as colour and clarity, the price of these stones can vary. Finally, we looked at some general guidelines that can help determine which crystals should not be put into water.