Colorado State Mineral


Colorado State Mineral: Rhodochrosite

(MnCO3) Manganese Carbonate

Adopted on April 17, 2002

On April 17, 2002, Colorado Governor Bill Owens signed a bill passed by the General Assembly designating the Rhodochrosite as the new state mineral after the Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colorado made the proposal based on the fact that the Sweet Home Mine near Alma, Colorado produces the highly prized and rare red crystals which are found only in a few places on earth.

While there was some debate as to whether the state mineral should be gold or silver or another mined mineral historically associated with Colorado, it was decided that the deep red to rose pink manganese carbonate (MnCO3) mineral, Rhodochrosite, is associated internationally with the state more than any other mineral. It is found in some gold and silver ore-bearing veins. The specimen at left is the world's largest Rhodochrosite crystal, called the Alma King, which is on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It was found in the Sweet Home Mine near Alma (Park County), Colorado.

Colorado State Mineral: Rhodochrosite

Colorado State Mineral: Rhodochrosite

Rhodochrosite (whose name means rose-colored) is a very attractive mineral with an absolutely one-of-a-kind, beautiful color. Although it can be an ore of manganese, it is its ornamental and display specimen qualities that make it a very popular mineral. The color of a single crystal can just astound the observer with its vivid pink-rose color that seems to be transmitted out of the crystal as if lit from within.

Physical Characteristics of Rhodochrosite

Colorado State Mineral: RhodochrositeRhodochrosite is a sought-after, colorful mineral. Earlier considered as gangue or waste rock to be removed to get at the valuable ore, rhodochrosite was thrown aside and buried in districts such as Leadville, Colorado. Its lower quality ore is sometimes processed for its manganese content in places such as Argentina.
Most noticeable features are its rose-watermelon color in its purest form, its relatively soft(H=3) hardness, and its solubility in dilute acids.

In many areas including Colorado and Peru, rhodochrosite is found as rhombohedrons in crystalline form, associated with numerous other minerals, such as pyrite, quartz, tetrahedrite and fluorite. Argentinian rhodochrosite is better know for its banding, stalactitic forms, and its great beauty when cut, carved and polished. Lesser quality material can be paler red or even reddish tan in color.
  • Color is red to pink, sometimes almost white, yellow and brown.
  • Luster is vitreous to resinous.
  • Transparency: Crystals are transparent to translucent.
  • Crystal System is trigonal; bar 3 2/m.
  • Crystal Habits include the rhombohedrons and scalahedrons with rounded or curved faces that can obscure the crystal shape. Some crystals can be flattened to a bladed habit and these are sometimes aggregated into rosettes or minute crystals into spherules. Also botryoidal, globular, stalactitic, layered, nodular, vein-filling and granular.
  • Twinning is somewhat common forming penetration twins and contact twins similar to calcite's twins.
  • Cleavage is perfect in three directions forming rhombohedrons.
  • Fracture is uneven.
  • Hardness is 3.5 - 4.
  • Specific Gravity is approximately 3.5 (above average)
  • Streak is white.
  • Other Characteristics: Pink and white banding in massive forms, non-fluorescence and specimens effervesce easily with dilute acids.

Folklore, Legend, and Healing Properties:

Colorado State Mineral: RhodochrositeIts powers include drawing love to the wearer, helps release past psychological issues and improves eyesight. Rhodochrosite is thought to relieve stress and is used by healers to cleanse the aura.

Rhodochrosite is also believed to help in the development of inner freedom by helping to resolve inner conflicts and as a stone of love and balance. It is a powerful healer for the 4th chakra and used to cleanse the heart chakra.

Many believe that it can release the suffering based on past lives and energize the pancreas, spleen and kidney. It increases the ability to handle life problems and increase personal self-confidence.

The Incas, who called it Inca Rose, believed that rhodochrosite is the blood of their former kings and queens that was turned to stone.

Colorado Law

The law designating the Rhodochrosite as the official Colorado state mineral is found in the Colorado Revised Statutes Title 24, Part 9, Sections 24-80-912.5 reflecting changes current through all laws passed at the First Regular Session of the Seventieth General Assembly of the State of Colorado (2015)


C.R.S. 24-80-912.5 (2015)

24-80-912.5. State mineral

Rhodochrosite is hereby made and declared to be the state mineral of the state of Colorado.

HISTORY: Source: L. 2002: Entire section added, p. 283, § 1, effective August 7.

State Rocks,
Minerals, & Gems
US State Gemstone or Gems

Gemstone, Minerals, Rocks