In a world where rigor seems to rage, all we need sometimes is a hint of tenderness. Rhodonite is not very common, and its natural supplies are sparse. This mineral’s gentle rose hues are held together by brave veins, pale and dark. Although rhodonite exists in fully orange and black varieties, it is the pink and red kinds that are most sought after. Isn’t its marbled pattern intriguing?
DID YOU KNOW?
As you might have expected, this pink stone has been named after its color. Rhodon means rose-colored in Greek.
Did you know?
Did you know this gem was first discovered on top of a tree? Farmers from the Ural villages in western Russia found a few bright pink rocks in the nest of a mountain eagle in the 18th century. This moment set off an enormous industry that would become Russia’s pride. Since its popularity has spread, rhodonite has also been sourced in Australia, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Finland, Sweden, Australia, Japan, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Madagascar, France, and Tanzania.
DID YOU KNOW?
After World War I, jeweled vanity cases with an inlay of rhodonite and other gems became in style.
From the 1720s on, imperial and private stone-cutting mills popped up in Russia, mostly in the Ural region, like mushrooms. Rhodonite was the favorite gem of the Romanovs, the Russian reigning imperial house. It specifically owes its fame to the 19th-century Tsar Aleksandr III, who decided to increase rhodonite production after falling in love with a magnificent vase made by Ural lapidary masters. The use of native materials like rhodonite inflated Russian national pride, which appealed greatly to the Tsar and his family.
Rhodonite is a stone that attracts crowds, as the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg stores an unique collection of rhodonite objects. In the 19th and 20th century it was carved into colossal floor lamps, jewelry boxes, table weights, tabletops, other pieces of decor… and even coffins, such as the casket of Tsarina Maria Alexandrovna. The enormous weight of the block it was cut out of made the manufacturing and transport process a challenging task—the entire project would end up taking years. The attentive passenger might have remarked that Moscow’s metro stations dating back to the 1940s are decorated with elements of the softly pink gem.
Convinced this stone would grant their children courage and the visual sharpness of an eagle, dwellers of the Ural left some of it in their cradles. Also in Russia, rhodonite was applied in protective amulets for newlyweds customarily given to the bride and groom on their wedding day.