Rhodochrosite (from Gr. Rhodon: rose-Chros: color) is a mineral-manganese carbonate- occuring in marvelous rose-red crystals. This beautiful stone was first discovered by Inca Ripac, also called Viracocha when he conquered the Northern part of Argentina for the Tahuantinsuyo or Inca Empire around the 13th. century. Amulets made with the rose-red stone were found in the Inca's mummies unearthed in the region. For this reason the stone became known as Inca-rose or Rosinca. Rhodochrosite was formed millons of years ago when its mass crystal­ization occured starting with hydrothermal solutions of manganese carbonate. Hence, its stratified aspect due to superposition of iodes of different tonalities that seldom adopt the form of stalactites. Black-greyish veins of hydrated manganese oxide and other metals may be found in its inner part. One of the mines producing the best quality of Rhodochrosite,"Ortiz Quality", is in the Northern Province of Catamarca, at the mountain village of Capillitas. Specialized personnel select the best Rhodochrosite pieces that will be transformed into beautiful jewelry by Cousiño's designers and master artisans.


In pre-Columbian times the Argentine Northwest made up the extreme South of the Inca Empire, a region with vast mineral richness from which gold, copper and silver were obtained. Particularly on the oriental side of the Capillitas mountain, Rhodochrosite emerged from the core of the land in great amounts: the inside of the eroded area of the volcano held the crystallized crusts known nowadays as the Ortiz Streak, the most beautiful and appreciated in the world. According to the Inca legend, this gem resulted from three drops of petrified blood, which grew as three roses, on the tomb of a virgin a warrior had cried over; this is the reason this stone used to adorn the Tiahuanaco´s princess´ necks, as a symbol of loyalty and eternal love.

In 1938, German man Franz Manfiel rediscovered the old Inca Capillitas mine and very nearby, a tomb containing funeral jewelry made with this stone. Ever since then, Rhodochrosite has popularly been known as Rosa del Inca or Inca Rose.