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With a name derived from the Greek for “rose-colored”, rhodochrosite is a manganese carbonate that was first discovered in Romania during the early nineteenth century. The mineral is used as an ornamental material when in its massive form, where various shades of pink are displayed as concentric bands due to the partial replacement of the color-causing manganese atoms with those of other elements. While individual deep reddish-pink crystals are occasionally found in sizes sufficiently large for faceting, the mineral’s inherent softness (3.5-4.0) and the presence of vulnerable cleavages in three directions mean that they are too fragile for use within gem-set jewelry.

In their usual massive forms, rhodochrosite’s whitish banding bears no visual resemblance to the black veining associated with rhodonite, so the confusion that often exists between these two pink materials is likely to instead be due to their similar-sounding names.

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