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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Rhodochrosite

Photograph of rhodocrosite (NMNH R16834) from the National Mineral Collection
Photo by Chip Clark. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH R16834-00
Locality Colorado, United States

Rhodochrosite is a minor ore of manganese. Manganese gives rhodochrosite its red color. It is commonly a rose-red color but can vary in shades of pink to light brown. Crystals of this intensity and quality are popular with collectors and can make attractive gemstones, but they must be handled carefully as rhodochrosite is a relatively soft mineral. It can also form as stalactites, and when cut, display concentric bands of rose-colored layers. This material is often used as an ornamental stone as well as for carvings and jewelry.

From the exhibit

Each reddish-pink crystal is shaped like a distorted cube, or rhombohedron. Collected from a gold and silver mine, this specimen was featured on a U.S. postage stamp issued in 1974.


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