Gem-A gemmology tutor Lily Faber FGA EG delves into the history and properties of bloodstone - an alternative birthstone for the month of March.
Many people recognise aquamarine as the main birthstone for March, but there is another, less-acknowledged gemstone that some consider a more traditional choice: Bloodstone.
Also known as heliotrope, this is an opaque, cryptocrystalline chalcedony consisting of dark green jasper with spots or larger areas of red, iron oxide inclusions.
These inclusions resemble spots of blood, hence the name. The inclusions can also be other colours such as yellow or white, but red is the most well-known and popular of the colours. You can find bloodstone in countries such as India, Germany, the United States, Italy and South Africa.
Bloodstone is believed to have magical powers, helping magicians attain invisibility. It is also thought to cause solar eclipses, rain and help the wearer win battles both in war and in the courtroom.
Bloodstone is an opaque, cryptocrystalline chalcedony consisting of dark green jasper with spots or larger areas of red, iron oxide inclusions. Image: Pat Daly @ Gem-A.
Bloodstone is considered a healing stone, helping to repair both physical and emotional wounds while promoting circulation.
Historical Adornment and Use
Historically, this stone has been worn in amulets and carved with a family’s crest, coat-of-arms or insignia to be used in signet rings or fob to impress the intaglio into melted wax seals. It has also been used as plain panels in snuff boxes as well as in a more decorative manner in pietra dura inlay in cabinet doors on larger items of furniture.
In the 17th century during the Renaissance, bloodstone was carved into forms such as a nef, which is a shallow bowl on a footed stem, usually mounted with gold and other gemstones such as garnets.
An example of this form is in the Waddesdon Bequest at the British Museum.
Care and Caution
Bloodstone is a polycrystalline material, and as such, is fairly tough and resistant to fractures and chipping. Quartz in general has a hardness of 7, which makes it fairly resistant to scratches, but caution must still be exercised when wearing bloodstone. When cleaning, use a soft cloth or brush and warm, soapy water.
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Cover image: Close up view of bloodstone by Pat Daly, Gem-A.