Russian Gemstones Encyclopedia

Vladimir Bukanov. Russian Gemstones Encyclopedia



RHODONITE group (Rhodonit—Rhodonite—–одонит) (Jasche, C.F. 1819), from Gk. “rhodon” – a rose, after its color. Here triclinic chain silicates bustamite and inesite are also described, which are represented in the content of rhodonite rock.

Composition & Properties. Silicate – Ca(Ca,Mn)Mn3[Si5O15], subclass band silicate, triclinic system. Hardness 5.5-6.5. Density 3.4-3.7. Glass luster, dull one in massive aggregates. Perfect cleavage in two directions. Rhodonite is a mineral and a rock with the same name; it is represented with fine-grained masses with black veins and dendrites of Mn oxides. Color: rose to bright red, brown-red. Non-transparent to translucent at the edges. Rarely, rhodonite is found in the shape of isometric, lamellar or short-columnar crystals. Red crystals are not rarely transparent and they are available for faceting. Because of dendrites a special variety is described – dendritic rhodonite, or landscape rhodonite. Massive variety of rhodonite, or orletz, usually contains different mineral admixtures, among which bustamite dominates in the shape of brownish spots, together with quartz, rhodochrosite, spessartine, tephroite and others. The presence of these admixtures makes worse the main rose tone of the stone. With significant amount of softer rhodochrosite the quality of ornamental rhodonite gets lower; they call such rock tomosite, or photocite (photizit). Rhodonite with the admixture of zinc and strong brownish hue is called fowlerite; and with the admixture of magnesium – hsihutsunite. Polluted with admixtures green rhodonite is called also manganese green ore, and stripped varieties are called manganese jasper. Depending on the texture of rock they classify massive rose rhodonite, spotty and veined varieties, as well as stripped and breccia ones. Rhodonite is represented in the content of different rocks, which can be used as ornamental stones. There is greenish-gray quartzite with spots of rose and red rhodonite, and also quartz rhodonite-rhodochrosite rock. There are breccias of effusive rocks, cemented with quartz-rhodonite material. Rhodonite-quartz-spessartine gondites are found as metamorphic rocks (See garnet).

Deposits. Rhodonite is formed in the process of contact metasomatism in skarns, under hydrothermal mineral-forming and metamorphism. It can be accumulated at placers.

In Russia, in 1790-s, long before rhodonite was officially recognized, the first deposit was discovered in the Middle Urals, at the village of Sedel’nikowo – Malo-Sedel’nikovskoye deposit, 20 km. southern from Yekaterinburg. At the Urals, it was known as orletz, bakan, hornstone or ruby spar. At this deposit, rhodonite was characterized with high level of block-forming in the general volume of the extracted material, because only their blocks up to 48 tons in weight were extracted. Nowadays, this deposit is worked out, as well as opens later, in 32 km. to a southwest from Yekaterinburg – Kurganovskoye deposit. For 200 years from the beginning of operation of the Malosedel’nikowo deposit, and the little more than 20 years of development Kurganovskoye deposit, on each of them were extracted more than 1000 tons rhodonite. In the same area there are 10 more of rhodonite deposits, among which the largest ones are: Borodulinskoye and Oktyabr’skoye. All of these deposits are of the metamorphic type also are dated for volcanic-sedimentary thickness. The best bright rose rhodonite is found in central parts of rhodonite bodies; to the edges it becomes rose-grayish because of admixtures of quartz, bustamite, tephroite and spessartine. The Borodulinskoye deposit is in 28 km. to the southeast from Yekaterinburg. It is one of the largest in Russia. It has high quality of rough material and stocks of it not less than 1500 tons. Here too meet rhodonite containing quartzites. The Oktyabr’skoye deposit is in the suburb of Polevskoye. It is less perspective on quality of rough material and his stocks. In the South Urals, they described numerous deposits of rhodonite, linked with metamorphic jasper formation. In Bashkortostan, there is the Kozhaevskoye deposit of rhodonite with inclusions of severginite, Urazovskoye – with admixture of raspberry-red piemontite, Kyzyl Tash – with the rock-forming quantity of mangan-serpentinite – caryopilite, bustamite, spessartine and other minerals, and the South Faizulinskoye. If in the Middle Urals the base of orletz is rhodonite, at the South-Faizulinskoye deposit, in the region of Sibay, pyroxmangite, rhodochrosite and quartz with admixture of gausmanite, tephfroite, ribbeite and cariopilit are dominating. Rhodonite is a secondary mineral there.

In the Polar Urals, between the Pay-Khey Ridge and Ray Iz massif, they discovered the Tyshorskoye deposit, where along with the ordinary rhodonite cobalt-containing violet variety rhodonite was found. There, at the iron-manganese Poachvozh deposit, layers of rhodonite are alternated with those of rhodochrosite, manganocalcite and tephroite. In the Subpolar Urals Mts., on the Parnoko-Yu River, a left tributary of the Lemva River, they discovered the Parnokskoye deposit of rhodonite and rhodochrosite. There, in rhodochrosite is find veins with crystals of rhodonite up to 4 cm. in size. Small deposits of rhodonite are known in the eastern regions of Russia. In the Krasnoyarsk Region, in the Yeniseiskiy Ridge, there is the Bolshegremyachinskoye deposit. In 1970-1971, in Buryatia Rep., in Transbaikalia, to the north from Ulan Ude, they discovered the Usutaiskoye deposit of rhodonite in the upper reaches of the Usutai River. In its manganous-containing rocks, they found lenses and interlayers of rhodonite, up to 10 m long and 1.5 m. thick. In the north of Buryatia Rep., in the Kurumkan Dist., of the Ikatskiy Ridge, there is the Ikatskoye deposit with crystals of rhodonite up to 2 cm. in size. In the Khabarovsk Region, they discovered numerous deposits of rhodonite, mainly of the metamorphic type. The largest ones are the Irnimiyskoye and Korel’skoye deposits in the Udsko-Shantarskiy Dist. At the Irnimiyskoye deposit, in the middle reaches of the Nimi River, a right tributary of the Uda River, rhodonite bodies are up to 40 m. long and 8 m. thick; they are deposited in jasper-schist rock mass with manganese ores of the rhodonite-rhodochrosite content and blue jasper – irnimit. At the Korel’skoye deposit, discovered in 1968, in the steep slope of the bank of the Tugurskiy Gulf, among manganese ores they found a rhodonite body 18 m. long with the average thickness 4 m. In the Primorskiy Region, at the Yuzhnoye deposit near Dal’negorskoye and at the Temnogorskiy mine near Kavalerovo rhodonite takes the main part of the general volume of hydrothermal veins. It is represented with needle, radial-rayed and columnar aggregates. In the Magadan Region, rhodonite is found in ore deposits – Khakajinskoye and another one in the region of Omsukchan; on the Sakhalin Is. – Siminskoye; on Kamchatka – Krutaya Padushka. On the Chukchi Penin., they discovered at the Pyrkakaiskiy mine rhodonite- quartz-rhodochrosite hydrothermal veins with inclusions of native gold.

In the West Ukraine, rhodonite-rhodochrosite rocks are discovered in the Chivchinskye Mts., in the upper reaches of the rivers Belyy and Chernyy Cheremosh, Chernivtsi Region. In Middle Asia, industrial extraction of rhodonite is in North Tadzhikistan, at the Altyn-Topkan deposit, the Kuraminskiy Ridge, to the north from Khujand (form. Khodzhent). In Uzbekistan, in the Sultan Uiz-Dag Ridge, in Qoraqalpoghiston, they discovered numerous deposits of manganese ores with rhodonite bodies up to 1.5 m. in size. At the deposits Novoye and Achchitau, they calculated the resources of ornamental rhodonite. Rhodonite of the Sultan Uiz-Dag Ridge contains admixture of quartz and displays weekly colored rose hue. At the Achchitau deposit ornamental rocks are also rhodonite skarns – pale rose because of rhodonite veins. In Kyrgyzstan, rhodonite is found at the Inyl’chek Ridge – the Trudovoye deposit, near Karakol (form. Przheval’sk). In East Kazakhstan, at the Checkmar deposit, rhodonite together with manganocalcite and bustamite forms pocket-lenses accumulations in schists. This grayish-white rock with rose spots of rhodonite can be used as an ornamental stone. In Mongolia, they calculated the resources of ornamental rhodonite skarns and rhodonite-rhodochrosite rocks at the Unduriyn Buts deposit.

In Europe, small deposits of rhodonite in skarns were exploited in England, in Devon and Cornwall. In Sweden, at the deposits Långban and Paisberg, in the region of Värmland, rhodonite was found in the shape of gem-quality crystals and in solid masses of paisbergit. In Finland, rhodonite quartzites and rhodonite, known as wittingite, were extracted as additional materials at the iron-ore Wittinga deposit, and rhodonite was extracted also at the Simsio deposit, near Lapua. In Spain, there is the rhodonite Huelva deposit. In Romania, rhodonite was found at the Cavnic deposit in the East Carpathian Mts., at the Valea U¸ tului deposit, near the Sebeš, Alba Dept.; rhodonite was represented with mono-mineral interlayers up to 30 cm. thick. In Slovakia, at the Çuçma deposit, near Rozñava, they extracted rose to brownish massive rhodonite together with rhodochrosite and manganese oxides. In France, rhodonite was discovered in the Hautes Pyrénées Dept. In Germany, there is the Laasfe deposit of rhodonite, North Rhine-Westphalia. In Bulgaria, rhodonite was discovered in skarns, in the Central Rodopy. In Italy, rhodonite from the San Marcel deposit, Piedmont, has the local name marveline.

In 1960-s in Africa, in the north-eastern part of Tanzania, in the region of the Kilimanjaro Mt., they discovered the Dagaseta deposit with marvelous ornamental rhodonite; half-transparent gem-quality material was extracted there mainly at placers. On Madagascar, in the southern part of the island, there is the Bezoza of rhodonite deposit, near Ampanihi. In India, rhodonite is extracted from manganese deposits of the states of Mahäräshtra and Madhya Pradesh. In the last one, at the Sitasaongi manganese mine, Chikla Bhandara region, they found metamorphic rhodonite-quartz-spessartine gondites. In Indonesia, on the Sumatra Is., there is the Rajang Lebong rhodonite deposit. In China, in the Hebei Prov., rhodonite is extracted at the Sihutsong deposit. In Japan, crystals of rhodonite available for faceting were found at a deposit on the Honshu Is. In Australia, in the south-eastern part of Queensland, to the south from Brisbane, there is the Jasper Farm deposit of rhodonite and rose jasper. In New South Wales, at the Danglemach deposit, 18 km. east from Tamworth, a lens of rhodonite is deposited in siliceousschists thickness. In this state, at the Broken Hill deposit, along with grained masses of veined rhodonite with crystals of bustamite up to 1 m., they find transparent crystals of red rhodonite up to 10 cm. in size.

In the U.S.A., in Massachusetts, there are placers with rhodonite at the Plainfield deposit, near Cummington. In New Jersey, at the deposits Sterling Hill and Franklin, in skarns, they find tin-containing rhodonite – fowlerite in the shape of large bright rose crystals up to 20 cm. In California, at the Rosamond deposit, they exploited placers with blocks of rose and raspberry-red rhodonite up to 400 kg. Besides, in this state, there is the Weller deposit metamorphic rhodonite. In New Mexico, they exploit a deposit of rhodonite in skarns. In the south-west of Alaska, near the Silver Bay, near Sitka, rhodonite was discovered in a gold-containing quartz vein. In Canada, in the south-west of the British Columbia Prov., there is the Fullford Harbour deposit of rhodonite on the Salt Spring Is.; it is a lens 10 m. long and 4.5 m. thick; and on the Vancouver Is., there are seven deposits of rhodonite. Canadian rhodonite is mainly of the ornamental quality, including such variety as black lace with fine dendrites of manganous, and half-transparent red rhodonite is available for faceting. In Brazil, in Minas Gerais, near Concelhiero Lafaiete, to the south from Belo Horizonte, along with ornamental rhodonite they find its transparent crystals. Small deposits with transparent crystals of rhodonite are known in Peru – Chiurucu, Pasco Dept., and Huanzala, Huánuco Dept.; in Mexico – Xonotla in the Pueblo State.

Synonyms. Manganese chert | Fowlerite, after the Amer. mineralogist S. Fowler | Hermannite, after the Russ. chemist R.F. Hermann, obs. | Heterocline, from Gk. “heteros” – another and “klino” – I bend it | Manganese hornblende | Hsihutsunite, after the deposit in China | Hydropite | Kapnikite | Keatingite | Lacroisit, after the Fr. mineralogist A. Lacroix, the mix rhodonite with rhodochrosite | Horn-mangan, obs. | Red manganese | Manganjasper | Manganolite, obs. | Manganquartz | Marceline, after the discovery location near Marcel, France | Unusable brown stone ore | Orletz, Old Russ., after the discovery in eagle nests, obs. | Manganese spar | Red spar | Rose spar | Unusable spar | Red stone | Brown-red stone| Rose stone.

Treatment. The discovery of rhodonite in the Urals concurred with the foundation and development of the Yekaterinburg lapidary factory specialized in stone-carving. In the epoch of Russian Classicism, they manufactured wonderful vases and bowls for palaces there. The best artists and architect of that time such as K.I. Rossi, Hallberg I.I. and others created projects of monumental goods from rhodonite. Among the earliest works of the Yekaterinburg lapidary factory, we should mention rhodonite obelisks more than 3 m. high. A serial of pairs of standard lamps and vases from rhodonite was made there, which was established in the State Hermitage, SPb. In the Hermitage, there is a unique masterpiece – a large oval bowl, 88x185 cm. in size. It was cut out from a complete block of rhodonite, 1,638 kg., which had been extracted at the Malosedel’nikowo deposit in 1858. It took nine years to make it. In 1870, it was exhibited at the All-Russia Industrial show; in 1873, it was exhibited at the World show in Wien, where it was marked off with prize. Another unique work of art is a sarcophagus from rhodonite, 179x114x87 cm. in size, which has been established in the St Peter and Paul Cathedral in St Petersburg for the Tsarina Maria Alexandrovna, the wife of Alexander II. Masters began to work over a block of rhodonite, 48 tons in mass, at the Peterhof lapidary factory in 1888. And they finished it in 1905 only. The weight of the ready sarcophagus is 6.7 ton. Diplomatic gifts – bowls from Ural orletz – made this stone famous through all the world. Such bowls were gifted to an Austrian Emperor and to a President of France. Rhodonite was one of the favorite materials at the K. Fabergé workshops. They made watches for Nobel from it, which were a small copy of the temple of fire-worshippers in Baku. For Ural masters rhodonite was a perfect stone for small forms and produce decorated with three-dimensional mosaic – cover plates for caskets and paperweights in the shape of berries and flowers. In the Mineralogical Museum Perm’ Univ. There are beautiful work of art from rhodonite by A.K. Denisov-Ural’skiy: a vase 16.5x8 cm. in size, a dipper 12x20 cm. in size, a dish 43.3x4 cm. in size, and ink-stand 35x25.5 cm. in size and a head of a turkey, which was a symbol of Romania in the serial of allegoric figures of the countries – members of the World War I. We should also mention that rhodonite was widely used in the Soviet period. Amonument to Henri Barbusse at the cemetery Pere Lachese in Paris, a coating of the hall for the ceremony of presenting of credentials in the Moscow Kremlin, columns at the subway station “Mayakovskaya” in Moscow were made from it.

Massive rhodonite is cut in cabochons, it is used as material for carving – to manufacture different ornamental work of art. vases, caskets, figures and others. Transparent crystals, mainly from deposits of Australia and Japan, are faceted. The maximum size of faceted stones is 2-3 ct., bigger stones are very rare.

Legends. Rhodonite as a talisman helps to awaken hidden talents and to win in gambling. Astrologers treat it as a lucky stone for those, who were born under the signs of Gemini and Libra. This gemstone is a national symbol of Russia.

Similar Gemstones & Imitations. Rhodonite looks like rhodochrosite and thulite. For imitation they used common translucent rose glass and non-transparent glass, manufactured in Russia in the 19th cent., – purpurin, composed with dendrite-like red crystallites, may be cristobalite. Nowadays, for imitation of rhodonite they use plastic.

Bustamite (Bustamit—Bustamite—Ѕустамит) (Brongniart, A. 1826), after the general Anastasio Bustamente (1780-1835) of Mexico, a mineral’s discoverer. Silicate – Ca3(Mn,Ca)3[Si3O9]2, subclass chain silicate, triclinic system. Hardness 5.5-6. Density 3.3-3.4. Glass luster. It forms a row of constant miscibility with rhodonite and is found in the shape of grained masses in rhodonite rock, sometimes, as separate accumulations. In massive aggregates it is non-transparent to translucent, in crystals it is sometimes transparent. Color: light rose, brown-red, that’s why it is also called chocolate stone.

Deposits. Bustamite is formed in the process of contact and regional metamorphism or as a result of metasomatism in skarns. In Russia, in the North Urals, there is the Bogoslovskiy mine of the skarn type. In the South Urals, in Bashkortostan, there is the Kyzyl Tash deposit of the same type. In Transbaikalia, there is a similar deposit Doninskoye. In Kazakhstan, there are deposits of bustamite of the skarn type – Zhumart and Karakamys; and in Tadzhikistan – Altyn Topkan. In Sweden, there is the Långban bustamite deposit, Vårmland prov. Massive rose bustamite with inclusions of greenish-blue crystals of apatite up to 10x1.5 cm. in size is of the biggest interest there. Findings of similar bustamite were registered in Japan, on the Honshu Is. In Australia, in New South Wales, at the Broken Hill deposit, they find crystals of bustamite up to 1 m. long in grained masses of veined rhodonite. There transparent rose crystals with the effect of cat’s-eye in cabochons were also found. In the U.S.A., bustamite in the shape of crystals available for faceting was extracted at the deposits Franklin and Sterling Hill, New Jersey. Similar crystals were found in Mexico, at the Tetela de Xonotla deposit, Pueblo State, where bustamite was discovered at first.

Treatment. An ornamental variety of bustamite is cut in cabochons and is used in stone-carving. The most valuable are cabochons with the effect of cat’s-eye up to 5 ct. From transparent crystals they make faceted stones 1-2 ct., mainly for collection purposes.

Inesite (Inesit—Inésite—»незит) (Schneider, A. 1887), from Gk. “ines” – meat fibers, after the color and general visual similarity. Silicate – Ca2Mn7[(OH)2|Si10O28]·5H2O, subclass chain silicate, triclinic system. Hardness 6. Density 3.1. Glass luster. Cleavage in two directions. Fragile. It is usually represented with fibrous masses, composed with oblong table crystals, which often form radial-rayed aggregates and sphaerolites. Non-transparent to translucent. Color: rose-red to meat red, orange to reddish-brown in the light. There are no separate deposits, it is found in rhodonite rock, in manganese ores and hydrothermal veins. In Bulgaria, inesite was discovered in the East Rodopy, at the Enevche deposit. Besides, there is an ornamental variety of inesite – rhodotilite, from Gk. “rodos” – rose and “tilos” – fiber, because of its fibrous structure. In Sweden, at the Paisberg deposit, it is represented with inesite with admixture of garnet and rhodonite. In Romania, inesite contains admixture of chalcedony and quartz at the Baia Mare deposit. In Slovakia, at the Banská Štiavnica deposit, inesite with admixture of quartz and carbonates is called agnolith. At the gemstone show in the U.S.A., in Tucson (1997), they exhibited orange-red translucent sphaerolitic aggregates of inesite up to 7 cm. in diameter from the N’Chwaning deposit, South Africa. They were evaluated in $2,500. There, at the Wessels mine, Northern Cape Prov., they find inesite in crystals up to 5 cm. in size and in sphaerolites up to 2 cm. in diameter. In the U.S.A., crystals of inesite up to 4 cm. at the deposits Quintole and Skun Creek, Washington, were found; also in California size of its crystals reached 2 cm. at the Hale Creek mine, Trinity Co.

Transparent crystals are faceted for collection purposes because of their rarity. Ornamental varieties are cut in cabochons.