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.
Perfect cleavage that develops extremely easily makes transparent, facetable rhodonite quite delicate. Thus, faceted stones are rare. However, gem carvers can make cabochons, goblets, figurines, and other objects from massive material with attractive black dendritic, “tree-like,” veins.
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).
An online search 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.”
Russia (Sverdlovsk) produces very fine and rich, massive, pink and rose-colored material. 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!
United States: California; Colorado; Massachusetts (official state gemstone); Montana; Franklin, New Jersey.
Brazil; Mexico; Peru; South Africa; Cornwall, United Kingdom.
Rhodonite parrot (Faberge) carving, St. Petersburg State Mining Institute. GV Plekhanov. Photo by Shakko. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.
Massive rhodonite pieces from various localities are available. However, extremely rare facetable gem material comes from crystals found primarily in Australia and Japan ranging in size from 2-3 carats. A few larger stones may exist.
Although pieces cut from massive material have greater wearability, both faceted gems and carved objects require special care. Due to rhodonite’s relatively low hardness, avoid mechanical cleaning such as steam or ultrasonic processes. Instead, use a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water for cleaning. Store your rhodonites separately from other stones to avoid contact scratches. Use protective settings for your jewelry stones and avoid physical blows, due to their cleavage and fracture potential. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.