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March Birthstones: Aquamarine & Bloodstone | Color and Meaning | The Old Farmer's Almanac

March Birthstones: Aquamarine and Bloodstone

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The Meanings and Histories of Aquamarine and Bloodstone

Tim Goodwin
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You may be aware that March’s birthstone is aquamarine, but did you know that bloodstone is an alternative birthstone? While they differ in appearance, the two birthstones symbolize strength and perseverance—perhaps fitting as we push through the last month of winter! Which gem would you choose?

Aquamarine’s Color

A member of the beryl family, aquamarine gets its coloring from trace amounts of ferrous iron. Aquamarine ranges in color from blueish green, blue-green, greenish blue to deep blue, and its tones can be very light to moderately dark. The color is typically more intense in larger stones.

Aquamarine Meanings, Symbolism, and Folklore

  • The word “aquamarine” is derived from the Latin words aqua, meaning “water,” and marina, meaning “of the sea.”
  • It’s said that Roman fishermen believed aquamarine would provide protection for sailors and those traveling on the water. It was also thought to bring luck in catching fish.
  • According to legend, aquamarine would create a calm sea for those during travel.
  • Aquamarine was also thought to help cool tempers and allow those who possessed it to remain calm and levelheaded.
  • In the Middle Ages, people thought that wearing the stone would prevent poisoning.
  • Pliny the Elder, a Roman author and naturalist, believed the stone had real powers, originating from treasures belonging to mermaids.
  • Folklore surrounding aquamarine was not only related to the sea, but also to the heavens because of the sky’s reflection in water.
  • Due to a belief that the aquamarine’s reflective properties could unearth things deep within a person’s soul, it was quite popular among healers and mystics.
  • Long ago, the act of meditating with aquamarine made people believe it could enhance the possibility of epiphanies.
  • Aquamarine is not only the March birthstone, but it is also the celebratory stone for a 19th wedding anniversary.

History of Aquamarine

  • Aquamarine was used by Roman doctors to treat overeating and ailments like bloating.
  • Medicines were once made from aquamarine powder to cure infections and allergic reactions.
  • Beads made of aquamarine have been discovered with Egyptian mummies.
  • The Smithsonian Institute is home to the world’s largest cut aquamarine, the Dom Pedro—a 10,363 carat obelisk that is 14 inches long and 4 inches wide.
  • In 1936, the government of Brazil gave First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt a dark blue rectangular aquamarine that is now housed at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York.

Where is Aquamarine Found?

Brazil is known as the major source of the gem, but other locations like Madagascar, Pakistan, and Nigeria, as well as the U.S. also produce aquamarine.

The majority of aquamarine stones come out of the ground with a green tint, but the result of heating will result in a pure blue color.

Aquamarine grows in large, six-sided crystals up to a foot in length, making it an ideal stone to be cut into large gems. One blue-green crystal found in Brazil—19 inches long and 16 inches across—weighed more than 240 pounds.

Aquamarine in Jewelry

With a Mohs Hardness rating of 7.5 to 8, aquamarine gems are suitable for everyday wear, require no special care, and are some of the easiest gems to polish.

A feature of some aquamarine stones are its inclusions, made up of long, hollow tubes that can be transparent. The characteristic is an identifier for the beryl family, which also includes the emerald. The gem can also contain crystals and some stones have snow stars—irregular shaped liquid droplets in a star formation.

Bloodstone
Bloodstone

Bloodstone’s Color

Bloodstone is a type of chalcedony—a form of cryptocrystalline quartz—and the amount of chlorite particles will determine the depth of its dark-green color.

Bloodstone is most known for its dark-green color with flecks of red spots. The red spots, which can resemble drops of blood, are due to the presence of iron oxide in the stone.

Bloodstone Meanings, Symbolism, and Folklore

  • Due to its spots, bloodstones have long been associated with blood. At times, the stone has been believed to help with hemorrhages and blood disorders. Aztecs used bloodstone to help regulate blood flow.
  • The gem has been a symbol of bravery through its link to blood and vitality.
  • Christians in the Middle Ages, according to legend, associated it with martyrdom and the crucifixion of Christ. 
  • Some believed the first bloodstone was created when Jesus’ blood dripped on a jasper, turning it into a bloodstone.
  • Egyptians believed bloodstones would aid in defeating enemies, as it helped to increase strength.
  • In ancient times, it was thought that a bloodstone could turn the sun red, while also making thunder and lightning occur.
  • In more modern times, a bloodstone is associated with being a lucky charm. In India, it is crushed and used as an aphrodisiac.

History of Bloodstone

  • Bloodstone has also been known as Blood Jasper. There are two forms of bloodstone—heliotrope and plasma. Heliotrope is more transparent with red spots, while plasma is opaque with little to no red spots.
  • “Heliotrope” comes from ancient Greek, meaning “to turn the sun” or “sun turning.” It is believed the definition stemmed from how the gem turned blood red in the setting sun. 
  • Bloodstones were used by Babylonians to make seals and amulets.
  • The unique properties of a bloodstone made it popular for jewelry and signet rings.
  • An example of a carved bloodstone with the seal of the German Emperor Rudolf II can be found at the Louvre in Paris.

Where is Bloodstone Found?

Bloodstones are found embedded in rocks or as pebbles in riverbeds. The most prominent source for the gem is India, although it is also found in Brazil, Australia, the United States, and Canada, among other locations around the world.

Bloodstone in Jewelry

For the most part, bloodstones are relatively inexpensive. The stone’s color and number of red spots are the primary factors in its worth. Those with a greater number of red spots typically are priced higher.

With a Mohs Hardness rating of 6.5 to 7, bloodstones are suitable for everyday jewelry, but be careful not to store them next to harder stones, as scratching may result.

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