Dimensions: 2cm x 2cm
Weight: 4 g
The formation of rhodochrosite usually occurs in fractures and cavities of metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. It is often associated with silver deposits, and a few silver mines produce rhodochrosite as a byproduct. Some of the common modes of occurrence and their lapidary uses are described below.
In metamorphic rocks, rhodochrosite is found as a vein and fracture-filling mineral where it precipitates from ascending hydrothermal solutions. Repeated episodes of crystallization allow it to build up in layers on the walls of the fracture. Each layer can be a unique precipitation event and produce material with a slightly different pink color. This gives character to the material for lapidary use.
Miners usually remove the rhodochrosite from the wall rock of these veins and cut it into thin slabs with a diamond saw. The slabs can then be used to make cabochons, small boxes, or other lapidary projects.
Some rhodochrosite forms in cavities in sedimentary and metamorphic rocks when descending solutions deliver a supply of dissolved materials. In these deposits, the rhodochrosite accumulates in layers on the walls of the cavity and may form stalactites and stalagmites on the roof and floor of the cavity - just like speleothems in a cavern.
These formations are often removed and slabbed to produce material with concentric pink banding. Some of the best examples of this form of rhodochrosite are found at the Capillitas and Catamarca deposits in Argentina.