Faceted Rhodochrosite from the Sweet Home Mine, Alma, Colorado
No. 870: 3 Step Chevron Barion with Step Cut Crown, 1.67 ct., 6.3 x 6.3 x 4.8 mm, SI1, faceted by Robert Drummond, $167.00 Sold
Shown above is a rare collector's gem; faceted rhodochrosite from the famous Sweet Home Mine. Rhodochrosite is manganese carbonate, a soft mineral only 4 in hardness. Too soft and fragile for use in most jewelry, gem collectors are drawn by the gorgeous rose color of the stone. Major deposits of rhodochrosite occur in Argentina, South Africa, and parts of Colorado in the U.S.A. Most rhodochrosite is found associated with silver deposits and occurs as veins of opaque reddish-pink material. Rarely, rhodochrosite crystals of suitable clarity can be found and faceted into beautiful collector's pieces.
The lead/silver mines located in the Mosquito Range west of Alma in Park County, Colorado, were first worked for their precious metal in the late 1800's. A byproduct of that mining was an occasional specimen of fine red, crystalline, rhodochrosite. In 1995 a small consortium of mineral collectors reopened the Sweet Home Mine, solely for the purpose of obtaining rhodochrosite mineral specimens. Their hard work resulted in the discovery of the most spectacular rhodochroste specimens ever recovered (See "Specimen Miners Strike it Rich in Park County," Colorado Central Magazine, June, 1995, No. 16, pg.24 by Steve Voynick). One specimen recovered during that operation was the "Alma King." This two-foot high plate of rock is covered with thousands of glittering quartz crystals with accessory sphalerite and blue fluorite. Near the center of the plate is a perfect 4.25 inch rhombic crystal of deep red, gem-quality, rhodochrosite. Judged by some to be the finest single mineral specimen in the world, visit the Denver Museum of Natural History and you can see this and other amazing specimens from the Sweet Home Mine.
Recently I obtained a few gemmy rhodochrosite crystals recovered from the Sweet Home Mine. One piece was faceted into the beautiful little gem shown above. The clarity is good, the faceting is fine, and the color is an outrageous "hot pink." This stone would make a fine addition to any gemstone collection.