Discovered in the 13th century in Argentina during the pre-Columbian era, this stone takes its name from the ancient Greek ‘rhodon’ meaning pink and khroma meaning colour. The pink stone was discovered in copper and silver mines in the northwest of the country, which was then part of the Inca Empire. At the fall of the Inca Empire, the mines were abandoned and rhodochrosite was forgotten.
According to Inca legend, Ajllas temple was found on the sacred shores of Lake Titicaca. In this temple, which no one was permitted to enter, lived the priestesses of Inti, the sun god. One day, warrior Canqui Tupac dared to cross the sacred lake and the high cliffs that protected the temple. Once he reached the summit, he found himself in front of the beautiful priestess Nusta Ajlla and they instantly fell in love with each other. Their union was forbidden, so they had to flee to south. Wild with anger, the Inca Emperor ordered his men to find the two lovers, to no avail. The couple was then able to enjoy their love for many years and they had many children. When Nusta died, her body was buried atop of a nearby mountain. Following the death of the woman of his life, Canqui’s body was transformed into rock. Years later, a shepherd who passed nearby was surprised to discover that the stones had metamorphosed into a multitude of blood-red rose petals. The shepherd picked up one of these petals and brought it to the Inca Emperor. Touched by this symbol, he forgave the lovers. Since then, the stone called Rosa del Inca has become a symbol of forgiveness, loyalty, sacrifice and true love. It was also considered, in Inca culture, to be the fossilised blood of their former leaders.
It was not until much later in the 18th century that the mines were found, leading to the rediscovery of rhodochrosite. It was then named in 1806 as manganese carbonate by Abbot René Just Haüy in his methodical table of mineral species. In 1813, the stone was renamed rhodochrosite by German mineralogist Johann Friedrich Ludwig Hausmann. Approved by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA), this is today its official name. Rhodochrosite was first noted in the Sierra Capillitas mines in Argentina from 1871 to 1874. We owe this to German geologist and mineralogist Alfred Stelzner who published his research in the book ‘Beitrage zur geologie und palaeontologie der Argentinischen Republik’
However, it was not until the late 1930s that rhodochrosite became known worldwide. The popularity of rhodochrosite is due to the German Franz Mansfeld. He discovered rhodochrosite fragments at the Musée de la Plate in Buenos Aires. He managed to get a sample of the stone that he decided to polish. On his return to Europe, he shared his discovery at the British Museum in London. Realising that it was a rare mineral, he decided to return to his homeland, Argentina. Whilst prospecting in the Catamarca Province, he discovered an Inca tomb containing jewels made of rhodochrosite. He decided to nickname the mineral the ‘Rosa del Inca’. In a few months, he managed to obtain several tons of rhodochrosite stone, which he transformed into a cutting and polishing workshop.
At the end of August 1938, Franz Mansfeld exhibited his creations of rhodochrosite carved objects at the Leipzig International Fair. This marked the starting point for the international popularity of rhodochrosite. Since then, it has even become the national stone of Argentina as well as the official stone of Colorado in the United States.
From its rhombohedral crystalline system, rhodochrosite stone comes in several varieties:
Rhodochrosite is part of the calcite group which is a group of minerals deemed iso structural, that is, of the same global chemical formula. In addition to rhodochrosite, the calcite group includes Calcite, Gaspeite, Magnesite, Otavite, Siderite, Smithsonite and Sphaerocobaltite.
Rhodochrosite crystals have a transparent or even translucent appearance, as well as a pearlescent shine. In its purest form, rhodochrosite displays a pink and red colour. The pink and red variety remains rare, however. It most often fluctuates between pink and light brown. It’s also worth noting the presence of white bands on rhodochrosite. This colouration is explained by its manganese content. These crystals can generally reach up to 12 cm in length. The largest rhodochrosite crystal, the Alma King, was discovered in 1992 in Colorado. It measures 14 – 16.5 cm.
Rhodochrosite can be used as an ornamental stone but it can also be cut and become a collector’s gem. It is then found in the form of necklaces or bracelets. It can also be consumed directly as an elixir for an even greater effect. There are many rhodochrosite deposits in the world, but few of them offer quality crystals. However, you can find them in the mines of Cape Town in South Africa as well as in Mounana in Gabon. New deposits have recently been discovered in Peru, China, Romania and Greece.
France is fortunate to have numerous rhodochrosite deposits. These are primarily found in the Pyrenees, towards Guingamp in Brittany, Faucogney-Saphoz in Haute-Saône and Mas d’Alary in Hérault.
Rhodochrosite stone is known as the stone of love and compassion. Emotionally, it allows one to uncover buried wounds so that they can overcome them. Using rhodochrosite daily helps one to develop a positive attitude. It is also particularly recommended when practising meditation. In this case, it allows the proper renewal of energies.
Rhodochrosite also allows one to balance the heart and solar plexus chakras which are directly related to emotions. On the heart chakra, it regulates emotions and feelings. On the solar plexus chakra, it fights stress and develops self-confidence.
In addition to mental health, rhodochrosite also has physical benefits for the wearer.
It eliminates toxins in the liver and kidneys, calms stomach ulcers, regulates diabetes, relieves arthritis, revitalises the nervous system and limits insomnia. Rhodochrosite prevents epileptic fits and Parkinson’s disease. It also has an effect on certain forms of dementia, including schizophrenia.
If you suffer from skin diseases, rhodochrosite can have a beneficial effect. In particular, it can be used to treat rosacea and skin allergies. For some of these physical disorders, wearing rhodochrosite as a necklace or bracelet will not be enough. It will need to be consumed directly as an elixir to promote the flow of energy.