Aragonite is a common carbonate mineral. It is unfortunately often thought of as the poor cousin to calcite. But aragonite is an interesting and attractive mineral in its own right. It forms interesting habits and can have a soft pretty color. Its modes of formation and relationship to calcite are both curious and intriguing.
Aragonite is a polymorph of calcite, which means that it has the same chemistry as calcite but it has a different structure, and more importantly, different symmetry and crystal shapes. Aragonite's more compact structure is composed of triangular carbonate ion groups (CO3), with a carbon at the center of the triangle and the three oxygens at each corner. Unlike in calcite, the carbonate ions do not lie in a single plane pointing in the same direction. Instead they lie in two planes that point in opposite directions; destroying the trigonal symmetry that is characteristic of calcite's structure.