Rhodonite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


faceted rhodonite - Brazil
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 Value

The International Gem Society (IGS) has a list of businesses offering gemstone appraisal services.

Rhodonite Information

DataValue
NameRhodonite
Crystallography Triclinic. Crystals tabular; massive, cleavable, granular.
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.
Fracture Conchoidal
Hardness 5.5-6.5
Specific Gravity 3.57-3.76 (massive): 3.67 in crystals. See "Identifying Characteristics" below.
Birefringence 0.011-0.014. See "Identifying Characteristics" below.
Cleavage Perfect 1 direction
Luminescence Dull red to inert. Medium dull red in SW (Hungary), dull deep red in LW (Langban. Sweden). Also thermoluminescence.
Wearability Good to Poor
Enhancements Dyeing (rare).
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).
FormulaMnSiO(+ 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. See “Identifying Characteristics” below.
EtymologyFrom the Greek rhodos for “rosy,” in allusion to the color.
OccurrenceIn manganese-bearing ore bodies or in their vicinity.
Inclusions May contain black dendritic inclusions of manganese oxide
rhodonite - Cornwall
Rhodonite, Greystones Quarry, Lezant, Cornwall. Private collection. Photo by the University of Exeter. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Comments

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.

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

Identifying Characteristics

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 prove diagnostic.

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

Fowlerite is a zinc-bearing variety of rhodonite.

Some rhodonites found in Brazil may show chatoyancy.

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

Optics and Specific Gravity

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°

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

Synthetics

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).

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.”

Enhancements

Rhodonites usually receive no treatments. Dyeing is rare.

Sources

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!

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.

Other notable gem sources include:

  • 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.
rhodonite figurine
Rhodonite parrot (Faberge) carving, St. Petersburg State Mining Institute. GV Plekhanov. Photo by Shakko. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

Stone Sizes

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.

Care

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.

rhodonite cabochon ring
“bg04_callyflore,” 25 x 18 mm rhodonite on adjustable 925 silver ring, by Imaginarium-Annelise. Licensed under CC By 2.0.