A bubble gum pink Rhodochrosite from the Detroit City Portal at the Sweet Home Mine, near Alma, Colorado

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Rhodochrosite a hardness of 3½-4 and a specific gravity of 3.7. It was named in 1813 by Johann Friedrich Ludwig Hausmann from the Greek ρόδο, “rose”, and χρώς, “coloring”, referring to its color. It’s the state mineral for Colorado, and there’s no question as to why!

The Sweet Home Mine opened in 1873 as a Silver mine and quickly became famous as Colorado’s top Rhodochrosite mine, with the “Alma King” crystal displayed at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and “Alma Rose” crystal displayed at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals in Oregon. Specimens of Sweet Home Mine Rhodochrosite are also displayed at the geology museum at the Colorado School of Mines, in the Royal Ontario Museum, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and in many other museums and hundreds of private collections.

You can find additional and much larger and more stunning specimens at the CollectorsEdge website, where the Sweet Home miners have their shop, as well as a bunch of additional information, from where this passage was taken describing its geology, “Hydrothermal alteration directly related to vein mineralization is pronounced in certain rock types at the Sweet Home mine. This alteration type consists of varying amounts of hydrothermal muscovite, pyrite, quartz and fluorite. In places quartz and pyrite may dominate along with fine-grained sericite. In such cases, the alteration type is best termed phyllic alteration. The more typical alteration type, however, consists of a mixture of coarse-grained, snow-white muscovite, fine-grained fluorite, pyrite, and quartz. This alteration type commonly occurs as replacements of wall rock adjacent to early stage quartz-pyrite-fluorite +- huebnerite +- sphalerite veins and represents a greisen type of alteration.”

While there are well over 1,500 known localities where Rhodochrosite has been found so far worldwide, Colorado’s ~183 localities have produced some of the most stunning specimens to date, and some have sold for tens of thousands of dollars, so be sure keep an eye out for a cool rose-colored mineral like this on your next hike!


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