Rhodochrosite from the Sweet Home Mine, near Alma, Colorado
Rhodochrosite is one of our Top 100 minerals for Collectors .
What is Sweet Home Mine - Rhodochrosite?
The Sweet Home Mine has long been recognized as the source of the world’s finest rhodochrosite crystals. The Sweet Home Mine is part of the Alma mining district, one of North America's highest mining districts. The mine is situated near timberline at over 11,000 ft. on Mt, Bross, 4.5 miles west of Alma, Park County, Colorado. What would become the Sweet Home mine was discovered in 1873, as a SILVER mining prospect. The mine produced small amounts of silver off and on from the 1870's until the 1960's. Beautiful red rhodochrosite, which was a gangue mineral during the silver mining days of the mine, has become the sole reason why the name Sweet Home Mine is revered by mineral collectors all around the world.
Rhodochrosite specimens from the Sweet Home are treasured pieces in public museums and private mineral collections around the world. Sweet Home Mine rhodochrosite crystals frequently exhibit a spectacular cherry-red color, can have lustrous, razor-sharp crystal faces, and can be incredibly gemmy.
Rhodochrosite is a manganese carbonate. The beautiful cherry red color of rhodochrosite from the Sweet Home Mine is due to the relatively low amount of Iron+Magnesium+Calcium impurities. When calcium, magnesium, and especially iron ions substitute for manganese, a pink color will result. Sweet Home Mine rhodochrosite crystals almost always form as simple rhombohedrons. Individual crystal sizes can range from <1 mm to the unequaled size “Alma King” rhodochrosite rhombohedron that measures 14 cm x 16.5 cm. Sweet Home Mine rhodochrosite can be so gemmy that it can be cut into spectacular faceted gemstones.
Well-crystallized fluorite, tetrahedrite, quartz, huebnerite, apatite, pyrite and other mineral species associate with Sweet Home Mine rhodochrosite, often forming combination specimens of great beauty and desirability. Read more about the Associated Mineral Species
The Sweet Home Mine was closed in October, 2004. Good specimens of Sweet Home Mine rhodochrosite are increasingly difficult to find and prices for the top pieces have escalated significantly since the closing of the mine. Whether a vibrant pink or a cherry-red color, these beautiful rhombohedral crystals of rhodochrosite, often occurring on a contrasting matrix of white quartz, black tetrahedrite or purple fluorite, are amazingly beautiful.
The most highly prized specimens feature rhombohedral crystals that are larger than 2 cm on an edge, are a vibrant cherry-red color, and have a mirror-like luster. Specimens of this level of quality are nearly impossible to acquire, a precious few were discovered and those that were discovered are largely in museums or held in private collections.
Many advanced collectors have been acquiring "suites" of specimens from the Sweet Home mine. These "suites" often represent the range of mineral species available from the locality or document some of the major pocket discoveries from the mine.