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Views - City & Mountain friends Jeff & Ella

Updated on March 18, 2015
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JM has written articles for 23 years and authored 3 books. She leads teacher development workshops and owns a restaurant in Colorado.

Jeff & Ella

Jeff & Ella learn about rhodochrosite
Jeff & Ella learn about rhodochrosite

When the weather is gloomy, what are dinos to do?

Rhodochrosite: The ‘Inca Rose’ Gemstone

Another Jeff & Ella Colorado Adventure

Jefferson “Jeff” Stegosaurus is a nerd who loves to read while his adventurous friend, Ella Iguanodon, likes to get out and do things. Jeff & Ella hang out together in Jefferson County, Colorado. You’re invited to come along with these dynamic dino friends on an adventure!

With dreary weather outside, what are dinos to do?

“I’m bored,” Ella Iguanodon announced to her friend Jeff Stegosaurus. “I don’t want to watch you read all day, I want to do something!”

“Reading is doing something,” Jeff said, lifting his nose from a gem and mineral magazine. “What do you have in mind?”

Ella bounced up and down as she answered, her heart-shaped anthurium hair bow beating up and down along with her. “Let’s take the bus to the museum!”

Rhodochrosite: Blood of kings and queens turned to stone

Jeff wasn’t reading when he and Ella entered the gem and mineral exhibit, following the mine shaft until they saw the wall display of blood-red rhodochrosite crystals.

Ella thought they were beautiful. “From the Sweet Home Mine in Alma, Park County, Colorado,” she read the sign out loud. “The ‘Alma King’ rhombohedrum was found in 1992 and measures 14 centimeters by 16.5 centimeters.” Ella waved her thumb spike through the air. “Why don’t they just say how big it is in American inches?”

Jeff had already plunked down on the floor and pulled out his favorite magazine. He paused to do the math because he loved math almost as much as he loved reading. “Let’s see, 14 centimeters divided by 2.54 to convert to inches … it’s about 5 ½ inches by 6 ½ inches.”

“That’s about the size of a conifer salad snack for me,” Ella said happily. “It’s amazing that the natural rhombi sides are almost equal for such a big crystal. Don’t you think so, Jeff?”

Jeff didn’t answer her; he just started reading out loud about rhodochrosite.

Colorado’s State Mineral

Rhodochrosite is rare to find in its pure red crystal form, but it is found in Colorado. Rhodochrosite became the official state mineral in 2002 after Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colorado made the proposal based on the fact that the Sweet Home Mine near Alma produces the highly prized red crystals found only in a few places on earth.

Rhodochrosite is pretty soft and can scratch or chip easily. The cherry red examples are very rare, the first one to be described was found in Hungary in 1813, but the pink color of rhodochrosite is commonly found in caves in Argentina.

The name, “rhodochrosite” is from the Greek for rose-colored. The pink or rose color is caused by the element manganese and a carbonate, which is carbon dioxide dissolved in a liquid, which then drips off the ceiling of caves or into crevices deep under the ground. In Colorado, pink and red rhodochrosite was found in silver mines and often thrown away on rock piles until mineral collecting became popular in the 1960s.

Rhodochrosite can be carved into figurines or sliced to use in jewelry. The Incas thought the red mineral was the blood of former kings and queens turned to stone. Some people associate rhodochrosite with love, kindness, and stress release that might lower blood pressure.

Want to see Rhodochrosite in Colorado?

Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum located at General Research Laboratory (GRL Building) at 1310 Maple St., Golden, CO 80401 / Tel. 303-273-3815 / www.mines.edu/Geology_Museum

Denver Museum of Nature & Science located at 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO 80205 / Tel. 303-370-6000 / www.dmns.org / Gems & Minerals Exhibit, Coors Mineral Hall.

Denver Gem and Mineral Show and local Gem & Mineral Shops. The Denver Gem & Mineral Show is held every year in September, but you can check out their website for info on Gem & Mineral Societies, Exhibitors, and Shops near you at www.denvermineralshow.com

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