Rhodonite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

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Faceted rhodonite, 4.26 cts, 1.3 x 0.8 x 0.5 cm, Morro da Mina Mine, Conselheiro Lafaiete (old Queluz de Minas), Minas Gerais, Brazil. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Ranging in color from pink to a fine rose red, rhodonite is a popular material for jewelry and decorative objects. Faceted rhodonite has an intense, beautiful color, but this material has a reputation as one of the most difficult gemstones to cut.

Rhodonite Information

Data Value
Name Rhodonite
Crystallography Triclinic. Crystals tabular; massive, cleavable, granular.
Crystallographic Forms
Refractive Index 1.711-1.752
Colors Rose red, pink, brownish red; often veined by black Mn oxides.
Luster Dull (massive) to vitreous
Polish Luster Vitreous
Hardness 5.5-6.5
Wearability Poor
Wearability Notes Good in aggregate; Poor in transparent stones.
Fracture Conchoidal
Specific Gravity 3.57-3.76 (massive): 3.67 in crystals.
Birefringence 0.011-0.014
Cleavage Perfect 1 direction
Luminescence Dull red to inert. Medium dull red in SW (Hungary), dull deep red in LW (Langban, Sweden). Also thermoluminescence.
Luminescence Present Yes
Luminescence Type Fluorescent, UV-Long, UV-Short
Enhancements Dyeing (rare)
Typical Treatments Dyeing
Transparency Transparent to opaque
Absorption Spectrum Broad band at 5480, strong narrow line at 5030, diffuse weak band at 4550. May also see lines at 4120 and 4080.
Phenomena Chatoyancy (rare)
Formula MnSiO(+ Ca to maximum of 20%).
Pleochroism Weak, but may be distinct: yellowish red/pinkish red/pale yellowish red.
Optics Biaxial (+), 2V=63-76°. Shadow edge at 1.73 in massive varieties.
Optic Sign Biaxial +
Etymology From the Greek rhodos for “rosy,” in allusion to the color.
Occurrence In manganese-bearing ore bodies or in their vicinity.
Inclusions May contain black dendritic inclusions of manganese oxide
rhodonite on galena

Rhodonite crystal on crystalline galena matrix, Broken Hill, Yancowinna Co., New South Wales, Australia. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Does Rhodonite Make a Good Jewelry Stone?

Perfect cleavage makes transparent, facetable rhodonite quite delicate. Thus, faceted stones are rare. However, gem carvers commonly make cabochons, beads, goblets, figurines, and other objects from massive, opaque material with attractive black dendritic, “tree-like,” veins.

rhodonites - Australia

Rhodonites: Australia (beads, 15 mm). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Pieces cut from massive material have greater wearability than faceted gems. However, both faceted gems and carved objects require careful handling, because their cleavage puts them at risk of fracturing. Due to rhodonite’s relatively low hardness, use protective settings for any jewelry stones to avoid damage from scratching and accidental blows.

faceted rhodonite - Australia

Rhodonite: Australia (0.6). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Rhodonite Varieties

Fowlerite is a zinc-bearing variety of rhodonite.

Some rhodonites found in Brazil may show chatoyancy.

Table of Rhodonite Optical Properties and Specific Gravity Values from Selected Sites

α

β

γ

Birefringence

Specific Gravity

2V

Honshu, Japan

1.726

1.731

1.739

0.013

3.57

64°

Pajsberg, Sweden

1.720

1.725

1.733

0.013

3.62

75°

Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia

1.723-1.726

1.728-1.730

1.735-1.737

0.011-0.013

3.68-3.70

74°

General

1.711-1.738

1.716-1.741

1.723-1.752

0.011-0.014

3.57-3.76

63-76°

Distinguishing Rhodonites from Lookalikes

You may find cut bustamite gems erroneously labelled as rhodonites. They have a similar but paler color. However, bustamite’s distinctly lower refractive indices (RIs) should distinguish it.

Cut pyroxmangite gems also resemble rhodonites. However, their birefringence values differ.

faceted rhodonites - Brazil

Faceted rhodonites, Brazil. Gem cutting by Afonso Marques. Photo by Eurico Zimbres. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

Are There Any Synthetic Rhodonites?

Scientists have synthesized rhodonites for various projects, including research into their thermoluminescence. 

You can find so-called “synthetic rhodonites” for sale in jewelry pieces. These appear most frequently as opaque pink to rose red beads with characteristic dendritic black veins rather than transparent faceted gems. (Oddly enough, some of this material features white bands more characteristic of rhodochrosite. Perhaps they’re mislabeled).

A review of online search results for “synthetic rhodonites” doesn’t clarify whether these jewelry pieces contain actual lab-created rhodonite or just some other material intended to imitate or simulate the gem’s appearance. This may be another example of the term “synthetic” used in the more popular sense of just simply “not real.”

Rhodonites typically receive no treatments. Dyeing is rare.

Where are Rhodonites Found?

Russia (Sverdlovsk) produces very fine and rich, massive, pink and rose-colored material.

Faberge parrot

Rhodonite parrot (Faberge) carving, St. Petersburg State Mining Institute. GV Plekhanov. Photo by Shakko. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0. (Cropped to show detail).

British Columbia, Canada yields fine rhodonite similar in appearance to the Russian material. However, the best material from British Columbia has a translucent, deep rose-pink color. Some fine, pink material from Bella Koola, British Columbia features black dendritic patterns.

Australia produces fine transparent crystals and massive material at Broken Hill, New South Wales. Gemmy rhodonite grains embedded in galena (lead sulfide) at this location are distinctive. Rhodonites can occur here with pyroxmangite and bustamite, which can grow in crystals up to 100 cm long!

rhodonites - rough, cabochon, and box

Rhodonites: Australia (cabochon 30 x 40 mm, box ~ 6 inches long). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Other notable gem sources include the following:

  • Honshu, Japan: facetable material.
  • Vermland, Sweden: good color gem material.
  • Daghazeta, Tanzania: fine-quality massive material.
  • United States: California; Colorado; Massachusetts (official state gemstone); Montana; Franklin, New Jersey.
  • Brazil; Mexico; Peru; South Africa; Cornwall, United Kingdom.

Stone Sizes

Massive rhodonite pieces from various localities are available. Extremely rare facetable gem material comes from crystals found primarily in Australia and Japan, typically ranging from two to three carats. However, larger facetable stones do occur.

rhodonite - Broken Hill, Australia

Rhodonite: Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia (4.5). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Caring for Rhodonites

Don’t clean rhodonites with steam or ultrasonic processes. Instead, use a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water. Store your rhodonites separately from other stones to avoid contact scratches. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.

rhodonite cabochon ring

Adjustable 925 silver ring featuring a rhodonite, 25 x 18 mm. Jewelry and photo by Imaginarium-Annelise. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

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