Where is Rhodochrosite Found?

This close-up of the Alma King crystal shows it is undamaged from its fall down into the open vein eons ago.

Where is rhodochrosite found? Colorado is famous for its rhodochrosite, the best rhombic red crystals ever mined – the Alma King, Alma Rose and Alma Queen. Each is currently residing in museums in Texas, Oregon and Colorado.

Where is Rhodochrosite Found – New Mining Projects

The Alma Queen find encouraged collectors to want to dig at the Sweet Home Mine, near Alma, Colorado. The most successful of these late mining projects was the brainchild of Bryan Lees. He organized a rockhound group to invest and start the Sweet Home mining project in 1990.

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Bryan handled the specimen project scientifically. He studied the rock structures and formations and located and mapped the direction of faulting and vein structures in hopes of locating any vein systems with crystal pockets. As the project proceeded, he even brought in ground-penetrating radar to help locate potential pockets.

Once mining started, small pockets of rhodochrosite crystals in reasonable quantities were opened. Each pocket was named and the crystals were prepared and sold to help finance the project. The result was finding Alma Rose and the Alma King, the best rhombic rhodochrosites mined.

Public Attention

Coloradans are always interested in mining projects. As the Sweet Home began to bear fruit, it caught the attention of a local TV station in Denver. They sent a crew to film the mining work.

The Alma King went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and is displayed there.

While the TV crew was filming, a vein was opened revealing bright red rhodochrosite on the walls. To their amazement, deep in the open vein sat a huge loose red crystal, a superb rhombic rhodochrosite crystal. It was the biggest crystal ever found in the mine!

As the crew filmed, they could see where this giant had broken away from where it formed and had slipped down into the open vein. It was sitting loose surrounded by quartz crystals and other crystals. Slowly, carefully, with the camera rolling, Bryan reached into the open vein, took hold of this giant crystal with two fingers and carefully eased it out of the vein, unscathed.

Careful Removal

The crystal had cleaved away during ancient ground movement. This had caused the crystal to break loose from its base and move down in the vein. There it sat for eons waiting for Byan to bring it to light.

Now came the problem of removing the matrix intact to put the King back where it formed. With diamond saws, wedges and much care, the entire side of the vein was removed and taken to the Collector’s Edge lab where specimen preparation experts prepared the matrix and put the King crystal back where it had formed among a covey of small bright quartz crystals. As mining continued, the Alma Rose also came to light.

This story about where is rhodochrosite found appeared in Rock & Gem magazine. Click here to subscribe. Story by Bob Jones.


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