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Learning Library

Rhodonite Gemstone

Just like Bette Davis, Rhodonite is the official gem of Massachusetts.  Its name is derived from the Greek word “Rhodon” meaning rose. It was discovered in the 17th century and for several  years  it  was  considered  the  national  stone  of  Russia.

Its uses vary from cameos to beautiful jewellery. Its pink body colour has a vitreous lustre and the gem is distinguished by black veins called dendrites, which form patterns across the main  body. Very rarely, transparent Rhodonite is found which is exceedingly fragile and greatly prized by collectors.

As the stone is usually opaque, it is commonly cut as cabochons or into beads. It has also been  claimed  to  have  specific  therapeutic  qualities, promoting  relaxation  and  the  soothing  of  the nervous system. It is said to aid self-worth and  imbue confidence in romantic matters. 

As well as being discovered in Massachusetts and  Russia, the gem has also been found in Sweden and Australia.

I recently acquired a small parcel of Rhodonite  from a very good friend of mine. He informed me  that when he received the rough material he tried  to have it faceted in Bangkok, but unfortunately  because  the  gemstone  was  very  brittle,  too  many  pieces  were  damaged.  He  then  sent  it  to a cutting house in China and then tried one  of  our  cutting  houses  in  Jaipur.  Unfortunately,  time  after  time  the  Lapidarists  were  damaging  too many stones. Then, as a last resort, he sent  the rough material to Brazil, where an expert in  cutting Kyanite (this gem is extremely difficult  to cut as it is polymorphic – meaning that it has  different hardness across its different axis) and at  last was able to cabochon cut the gemstone with  an acceptable amount of breakages. The big trick  for the Lapidarist was knowing at which angle to  make the all important first cut.

Don’t  worry  about  the  gem  once  it  has  been  faceted  though.  Although  this  glorious  pink  gemstone is brittle and difficult to cut, once the  cut has been achieved its hardness of 6 to 6.5 on  the mohs scale makes it durable.

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A Rhodonite Ring from the Jacque Christie collection.