Why is Bloodstone the Alternative March Birthstone?

Chances are you've heard of the March birthstone aquamarine... but did you know there are actually two gems associated with the month of March? Bloodstone is considered an 'alternative' March birthstone, perhaps because of its gothic colour palette and unusual history. 

Here, Gem-A gemmology tutor Lily Faber FGA EG delves into the properties of bloodstone, which is sometimes known as heliotrope or 'blood jasper'. Bloodstone is an opaque polycrystalline chalcedony (a type of quartz) consisting of dark green jasper with spots or larger areas of red, iron oxide inclusions.

These inclusions resemble spots of blood, hence its name. The inclusions can also be other colours such as yellow or white, but red is the most well-known and popular. You can find bloodstone embedded in rocks or in riverbeds in countries such as India, Brazil, Australia, Germany, the United States, Italy and South Africa. 

Other types of polycrystalline quartz include agate, onyx, carnelian, sard, prase, aventurine, tiger's eye and silicified wood. 

The Mythical Properties of Bloodstone

Bloodstone is an ancient gem material that was used by the Babylonians (pre-539 BC) to make amulets and talismans with healing properties. The Ancient Egyptians believed bloodstone could make an individual stronger and more stealthy in battle, maybe even invisible to their enemies.

Throughout history, bloodstone has been connected with an ability to control the weather, predict the future, win courtroom battles and increase creativity. In fact, it was so loved for its properties that many used the stone in jewellery, signet rings and even small cups or statues.

This ancient fascination with bloodstone is what makes many view it as the more 'traditional' choice for the month of March, as opposed to the more commercially successful and widely-known beryl, aquamarine. 

 

Quartz Bloodstone 6936 PDBloodstone consists of dark green jasper with iron oxide inclusions. Image: Pat Daly @ Gem-A.

Historical Adornment and Use

Bloodstone was typically fashioned into amulets and carved with a family's coat of arms or crest. These bloodstone intaglios could then be placed in signet rings and used as melted wax seals. 

This gem material has also been used as panels in snuff boxes, and in a more decorative manner in pietra dura inlay, cabinet doors and larger items of furniture.

In the 17th century during the Renaissance, bloodstone was carved into forms such as a nef - a shallow bowl on a footed stem mounted with gold and other gemstones such as garnets.

An example of this form can be seen at the Waddesdon Bequest at the British Museum.

In contemporary jewellery designs, bloodstone is typically found in polished oval or emerald-shaped cabochons that showcase its characteristic veins and specks of red. Bloodstone is commonly carved into beads for necklaces and bracelets, which can be worn everyday as 'lucky charms'.

Bloodstone Care and Caution

Bloodstone is a polycrystalline material and as is fairly tough and resistant to fractures and chipping. As bloodstone is a type of quartz it has a hardness of 6-7 on the Mohs scale, 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.

Discover more Birthstone Guides on the Gem-A Blog

Start your gemmology journey with a Gem-A Workshop or our world-renowned Gemmology Foundation and Diploma courses. Speak to a member of the Gem-A education team to find out more on education@gem-a.com.

Cover image: Close up view of bloodstone by Pat Daly, Gem-A. 


Understanding Selenite

Understanding Selenite

The Gem-A Gemstone & Mineral Collection contains this fantastic selenite specimen with grass-like green blades that shoot-out from the host rock. Assistant gemmology tutor, Dr Juliette Hibou FGA, explains more about the origins and properties of this striking gem material. 

Read more


What Makes A Gemstone Rare?

What Makes A Gemstone Rare?

The term 'rare' is thrown around alot online, but what gemstones actually deserve the term and do diamonds fall into this category at all? Gem-A tutor manager, Rona Bierrum FGA DGA, explores some of the rarest gemstones known to man and considers how rarity is measured in the gem and jewellery trade. 

Read more


What is the Link Between an Emerald and the Emerald-Cut?

What is the Link Between an Emerald and the Emerald-Cut?

Sometimes, we come across terms in gemmology that cause confusion. We all recognise the beautiful green colour of an emerald, but there is also an emerald-cut that has nothing to do with the green gem itself… or does it? Here, we explain the story behind the twisted terminology.

Read more


The Most Underappreciated Gemstone? Why We Love Rock Crystal

The Most Underappreciated Gemstone? Why We Love Rock Crystal

Everyone knows that lucky April-born souls have been blessed with one of the most prestigious birthstones: diamond. However, there is an alternative birthstone for the month and it's a 'hidden gem'... so to speak! Gem-A Member, Julia Griffith FGA DGA EG explains why rock crystal is worth your time and attention. 

Read more


Birthstones Guide: Diamond for Those Born in April

Birthstones Guide: Diamond for Those Born in April

Those born in the month of April can count the illustrious and historically significant diamond as their birthstone. Here, Gem-A tutor Lily Faber FGA DGA EG delves into the past to uncover why diamonds are so valued... and so valuable. 

Read more


Understanding Fossils as Decorative Materials

Understanding Fossils as Decorative Materials

Inspired by a fantastic specimen in the Gem-A Gemstone & Mineral Collection, tutor Pat Daly FGA DGA explores the use of fossils as decorative objects and describes some collectible specimens, like ammonites, trilobites and peanut wood.

Read more


Gem-A Offers Scholarships to Trio of GCDC Award Winners

Gem-A Offers Scholarships to Trio of GCDC Award Winners

Inspired by the level of jewellery design talent on display at the recent Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council Awards, Gem-A opted to present not one, but three scholarships to worthy entrants. Discover the designers who have been offered a place on the Gem-A Diamond Grading and Identification course here... 

Read more


Beginner's Guide: What Are the Different Types of Opal?

Beginner's Guide: What Are the Different Types of Opal?

Are you fascinated by the beautiful colours of opal? Do you wish you knew more? Gem-A assistant gemmology tutor, Charlie Bexfield FGA EG presents his beginner's guide to opal types, including common and precious varieties. 

Read more


Top 10 Luxury Brands: The Jewellery Connoisseur's Wish List

Top 10 Luxury Brands: The Jewellery Connoisseur's Wish List

Do you dream about a sparkling high jewellery collection from world-leading brands? Christa Van Eerde MA MLitt FGA DGA discovers the quintessential pieces from the top 10 houses leading the luxury jewellery sector.

Read more


Read the Spring 2019 Issue of Gems&Jewellery

Read the Spring 2019 Issue of Gems&Jewellery

We are pleased to introduce the Spring 2019 edition of Gems&Jewellery magazine, packed full of interesting and informative features for Gem-A Members and current students. Find out how to read the issue online here... 

Read more


Bloodstone: The Alternative March Birthstone

Bloodstone: The Alternative March Birthstone

Perhaps because of its gothic colour palette and unusual history, bloodstone has long been considered the more 'traditional' choice for the month of March. Here, Gem-A gemmology tutor Lily Faber FGA EG delves into the properties of bloodstone, which is sometimes known as heliotrope or 'blood jasper'. 

Read more


Birthstone Guide: Aquamarine for Those Born in March

Birthstone Guide: Aquamarine for Those Born in March

Those born in March are lucky enough to have two birthstones: the beautiful blue of aquamarine and the mysterious red-spotted bloodstone. Here, we delve into the gemmological and mystical properties of aquamarine and why this sky blue gem is said to be a talisman of good luck, fearlessness and protection. 

Read more


Questions To Ask When Buying A Piece Of Gemstone Jewellery

Questions To Ask When Buying A Piece Of Gemstone Jewellery

What are the essential questions to ask a high street store or designer brand when buying a piece of gemstone jewellery? How can you be sure you'll get what you really want? Continue reading to see our checklist of essential conversation starters. 

Read more


Understanding Dioptase

Understanding Dioptase

Did you think this might be emerald? You certainly wouldn't be the first to confuse the vibrant green of dioptase with the more recognisable, jewellery-lover's gemstone. Here, Gem-A assistant gemmology tutor, Dr Juliette Hibou FGA, explains more about the history, properties and origins of dioptase, an unusual collector's gem. 

Read more