Bloodstone is also known as Heliotrope, is the traditional birthstone for March. This silicate mineral is a type of chalcedony. In its classic form, it is a dark green with red jasper inclusions.
The word bloodstone refers to the small jasper inclusions which are deep red in color and are supposed to reflect small patches of blood. Heliotrope is greek in origin. It comes from the greek word ‘Helio‘ meaning ‘sun‘ and the word ‘trepein‘ meaning ‘turning’.
Modern sources of bloodstone are predominately Brazil, Australia and India. One ancient source of this mineral is the Kathiawar Peninsula of western India.
Bloodstone has long played a part in religion, being a favorite material for religious objects, most commonly used to depict martyrdom, flagellation and the crucifixion. For example, the stone would be carefully carved so that the red inclusions would appear as blood on the wounds of Christ. According to some legends, bloodstone made its first appearance at the time of the crucifixion. The legend states that when Christ was bleeding, his blood fell upon some green jasper, creating the bloodstone. Note that bloodstone is not actually a type of jasper.
The gladiators of old believed this gem stopped their wounds from bleeding, often crediting it with saving their lives. They would pound the stone into powder then mix it with honey or another binding agent and apply it to staunch the bleed. They were well known to wear amulets and pendants of this stone to ward off blows completely. Alchemists used it to treat blood poisoning, such as from a snake bite.
- Category / Group: Mineral, Silicates, Tectosilicates
- Crystal System: Hexagonal / trigonal
- Formula: SiO2 (silicon dioxide)
- Color: Dark green with red spots
- Habit: Cryptocrystalline
- Hardness: 6.5–7 on Mohs scale
- Transparency: Translucent / Opaque
- Lustre: Vitreous
- Fracture: Conchoidal
- Streak: White
- Clevage: None
- Specific gravity: 2.7
- Refractive Index: 1.53–1.54
- Birefringence: 0.004
Synthetic or Natural
Bloodstone, or heliotrope, is not generally synthesized in the way that a normal gemstone would be; however, it has been known to be copied using wood or even bone. When the stone could not be sourced some tribes thought that mimicking the flecked appearance of bloodstone could achieve the same effect.
Header image by Ra’ike