The second birthstone for March is the bloodstone- a dark-green gemstone flecked with vivid red spots of iron oxide. Bloodstone is also called heliotrope (a form of the abundant mineral quartz), a word from the ancient Greek that means “to turn the sun.” Bloodstone is sometimes known by another name, Blood Jasper, although it’s actually chalcedony, a crypto crystalline quartz. There are two forms of bloodstone: one is more transparent (heliotrope) with red spots while the other is more opaque (plasma) and has little or no red spots. Many believe it was probably named such because of ancient ideas about how minerals reflect light. In fact, some believed that the sun itself would turn red if this stone was put into water. This particular form of quartz, known as cryptocrystalline quartz, exists as a mass of tiny quartz crystals formed together in large lumps that show no external crystal form, yet each of the component crystals that make up the mass is a genuine crystal. This quartz variety is also called chalcedony. Green chalcedony spotted with flecks of red is known as bloodstone. Bloodstone is found embedded in rocks or as pebbles in riverbeds. The best sources of this stone are India, Brazil, and Australia. The bloodstone is a favored material for carving religious subjects, particularly the Crucifixion. One particularly famous carving was done by the Italian Matteo del Nassaro around 1525. In “The Descent from the Cross,” the carving was carefully crafted so that spots of red on the bloodstone represented the wounds of Christ and his drops of blood.
According to legend, bloodstone was believed to have formed during the crucifixion of Christ. A Roman soldier-guard thrust his spear into Christ’s side and drops of blood fell on some pieces of dark green jasper lying at the foot of the cross, and the bloodstone was created. Babylonians used this stone to make seals and amulets, and was believed to have healing powers, especially for blood disorders. It was also a favorite with Roman gladiators. In the Middle Ages, bloodstone was believed to hold healing powers, particularly for stopping nosebleeds. Powdered and mixed with honey and white of egg, it was believed to cure tumors and stop all types of hemorrhage. Ancient alchemists used it to treat blood disorders, including blood poisoning and the flow of blood from a wound. Bloodstone was also believed to draw out the venom of snakes. Many other ancient cultures believed bloodstone had magical powers, with some references to its ability to heal dating back to 5000 BC. The Babylonians used bloodstone in their divination, and the Egyptians prized bloodstone because they believed it helped them to defeat their enemies. They also believed it increased their strength or made them invisible. Still, others believed that bloodstone could help control or change the weather, win legal battles or give the gift of prophecy. It was so loved for its properties, many used the gemstone in jewelry, signet rings, and even small cups or statues. Today, some still wear bloodstone as a lucky charm. No matter how you use or wear bloodstone, it’s a unique gemstone great for everyday wear.
Whether purchasing bloodstone as a gift for a March birthday, or simply wanting to have your own “lucky charm,” it is an affordable way to enjoy a unique gemstone. The color of bloodstone can range from light to dark green, with subtle or prominent spots or stripes of red or rust. Most gemstones have very distinct light and dark color zones, so you may not want to be on the hunt for an evenly colored bloodstone as this may be a very difficult or impossible task. The color gradient is part of the bloodstone’s distinctive look and unique charm. Bloodstone can range from translucent to nearly opaque. When cut and polished well, it can have a beautiful shine and luster, though the luster is different than other gemstones and will generally appear smooth or waxy. Depending on the size of the gemstone, it may be cut with facets into unique or traditional shapes. Smaller gemstones are often cut and polished into beads, and can also appear as a part of carvings, shapes (like hearts), seals or cameos. Bloodstone looks particularly beautiful as a pendant or a beaded bracelet. Since bloodstone is rife with symbolism and positive properties, many may choose to wear as an everyday piece or small amulet, so be sure that the way it is set and mounted is durable and secure enough for heavier wear.