Brazilian Rhodonite are beautiful, crimson red gemstones from Pedro Leopoldo in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais (English: General Mines). Rhodonite is popular with jewelry enthusiasts and gem collectors alike; entirely crimson red, translucent Rhodonite from any locale are impossibly rare and virtually unattainable.
Hardness 5.5 – 6.5
Refractive Index 1.716 – 1.752
Relative Density 3.40 – 3.74
Brazilian Rhodonite are beautiful, bright pure crimson reds with an uncharacteristic color evenness and translucency. Most Rhodonite is opaque, pinkish rose red with black veins and patches. Brazilian Rhodonite is frustrating for the lapidary due to the very low ratio of crystallization and resulting brittleness. Cutting is slow and tedious; lapidaries have to be very careful from which angle they cut due to Rhodonite crystallizing in the triclinic system (unequal crystallization that intersects at oblique angles). Despite these challenges, Brazilian Rhodonite displays a desirable even color, excellent luster, and an attractive shape and overall appearance.
The official gem of Massachusetts, Rhodonite was named in 1819 by Christoph Friedrich Jasche from the Greek ‘rhodon’ (rose) due to its color. Interestingly, two other gems, Rhodolite and Rhodochrosite, also derive their name from this word. Rhodonite is a member of the pyroxene group and can alter to Rhodochrosite (manganese carbonate). Rhodonite is brownish-red, gray, orange, pink, or red and often laced with black/green bands, dots, veins, and webs of dendrite (manganese oxide). During the 18th century Rhodonite was extremely popular in Imperial Russia for both jewelry and architectural ornamentation, and for many years was considered this country’s national gemstone. Rhodonite that is used for ornamental purposes is often marked in a striking manner by dendrite. Colloquially, Rhodonite is sometimes called the ‘Singer’s Stone’ because of a purported esoteric ability to enhance sound sensitivity.
Found in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Sweden, Russia and the USA, fine Rhodonite crystals are extremely rare. Brazilian Rhodonite hails from Pedro Leopoldo in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. Mined 12 years ago, these gems are historic production with less than 20 kilograms of the only 100 kilograms mined being gem-quality. The mine was acquired by Vale (the world’s largest iron ore producer) in 2003, and converted from a gemstone to an iron ore mine in 2006. The extreme natural scarcity of fine Brazilian Rhodonite is exasperated by faceting difficulties, noting it is also one of the few gemstones that are unenhanced.
Durability & Care
Brazilian Rhodonite (Mohs’ Hardness: 5.5 – 6.5) is an excellent collector’s gemstone. Always store Brazilian Rhodonite carefully to avoid scuffs and scratches. Clean with gentle soap and lukewarm water, scrubbing behind the gem with a very soft toothbrush as necessary. After cleaning, pat dry with a soft towel or chamois cloth.