Rhodochrosite vs. Rhodonite: What's the Difference?
For many people, telling rhodochrosite and rhodonite apart is challenging. These gemstones have a lot in common, so it’s easy to mistake one for the other. However, when you learn what sets these two stones apart, it becomes easier. Along the way, you may even end up with a favorite in the rhodochrosite vs. rhodonite debate.
If you are wondering what these gems have in common and what makes them unique, here’s what you need to know.
Rhodochrosite and Rhodonite Properties
As with many stones, rhodochrosite and rhodonite are technically minerals. Both feature manganese, though the rhodonite stone is a carbonate mineral while the rhodonite gem is a silicate.
Both rhodochrosite and rhodonite can vary in transparency. Many of the stones of each type that you find in jewelry are opaque. However, the crystal specimens can be semi-translucent though they are rarely fully transparent. As a result, transparent versions tend to be highly valued, often being scooped up by avid collectors.
Rhodonite vs. Rhodochrosite Colors
Many people confuse rhodonite and rhodochrosite beyond the stones’ names. Their appearances are also fairly similar.
Both the rhodochrosite stone and the rhodonite gem are predominately pink, particularly the gemstones that tend to make their way into jewelry pieces. However, they can also work their way toward a bright red.
What sets them apart tends to be the veining and banding. With pink rhodochrosite, white or gray bands typically run across the stone. They tend to be mainly parallel to one another, though they also exhibit some wobbling. With lighter pink versions, white bands can be subtle. However, on darker stones, they can be surprisingly striking. The opposite tends to be the case with the grayish bands.
Pink rhodonite, on the other hand, can have dramatic black patches. These stones commonly have a notable matrix of black manganese oxide, which contrasts dramatically against the pink. While there is some veining, it doesn’t tend to create the distinct parallel lines you find in rhodochrosite.
Rhodonite and Rhodochrosite History
Generally, rhodonite is a lapidary material. It’s appreciated for its beauty and typically isn’t used for industrial purposes. Instead, it may become a collectors’ item, a jewelry piece, or even a small sculpture.
Rhodochrosite is in the same boat. It’s relatively fragile, so it doesn’t have an industrial use. However, it’s lovely appearance makes it a popular lapidary material.
Where Rhodochrosite and Rhodonite Are Found
The rhodochrosite gemstone tends to form in the cavities of sedimentary and metamorphic rock. It’s often found alongside silver deposits, with some silver mines unearthing rhodochrosite and the gem essentially becoming a byproduct.
However, it’s incredibly rare to find it in well-formed rhodochrosite crystals. Some of the most prized ones come from Colorado. There are other sources, including Argentina, Peru, South Africa, Mexico, Russia, Romania, Spain, Gabon, China, Japan, and Montana. Still, high-quality examples are far from common.
Rhodonite is more commonly limited to metamorphic rock areas. Comparatively, it’s also uncommon. While there are sources spread across the globe – including in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, the United States, Canada, Australia, India, Russia, Sweden, and England – the deposits are usually small, yielding very little usable rhodonite.
Generally speaking, both rhodochrosite and rhodonite tend to be used to create cabochons or are simply polished. Rhodochrosite can be cut into slabs and offer up a smooth, flat surface instead of a curved one. At times, they are turned into beads, as well.
Due to its cleavage, rhodochrosite isn’t typically faceted. However, that doesn’t mean that faceted stones don’t exist, just that they aren’t common.
Rhodonite may be made into a cabochon, though it can also be faceted. However, the faceted stones tend to be fragile, making them collectors’ items over jewelry stones.
Rhodochrosite jewelry comes in all types. Bracelets, necklaces, rings, and earrings are all available. Usually, though, you won’t find rhodochrosite jewelry in major chains. Instead, if you want some lovely rhodochrosite baubles, your best bet is to turn to smaller, independent designers.
Rhodonite jewelry options are similar to what you’ll find with rhodochrosite. Nearly any kind of piece is available through niche or boutique designers. So, if you’re looking for a rhodonite bracelet, pendant, or similar item, skip the chain jewelers and shop a small business.
Rhodochrosite and Rhodonite Meaning
When it comes to the rhodochrosite meaning, some think it relates strongly to both compassion and love. Others believe it can bring comfort, reduce stress, and promote self-esteem.
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Rhodonite is usually associated with balance and calm. Some also associate with love and forgiveness, as well as a stone for grounding negative energies. Others believe it represents strength and physical vitality.
At times, the two stones also share meanings. For example, due to their coloring, both may be associated with the heart chakra, as well as following one’s heart. Additionally, they are each seen as beneficial to those dealing with the loss of a loved one.
As for health benefits – such as the rhodochrosite and rhodonite healing properties – it’s crucial to remember that there is no scientific evidence that possessing any stone promotes healing or treats a medical condition. While many believe in the rhodonite and rhodochrosite healing properties, the gems aren’t substitutes for proper medical care.
However, holding or wearing either gem usually won’t cause any harm. As a result, if having some makes you feel better, there’s no reason not to have it with you.
Stones Similar to Rhodonite and Rhodochrosite
Mainly, when it comes to similar stones, both rhodonite and rhodochrosite may be excellent substitutes for each other. Beyond that, individual pieces of rose quartz might have a similar look. You can also find pink opals or pink moonstone in the right shade of pink and may be a bit mottled, though they lack the veining or banding.
Some pieces of pink coral may be decent lookalikes. However, the coloring tends to lean orange, and the veining and banding are absent.
It is important to note that imitation rhodochrosite can also look a lot like the genuine article. In some cases, imitation rhodochrosite jewelry and beads resemble the natural stone so closely that most people can’t tell the difference by merely looking at it. However, if it’s examined under a microscope, the difference is apparent.
Still, if you’re looking for an affordable alternative, imitation rhodochrosite could be a solid option. You get the look with a lower price tag.