“Who in this world of ours their eyes
In March first open shall be wise,
In days of peril firm and brave,
And wear a bloodstone to their grave.”
March is a busy month. With the end of the winter months, and the clocks going forward, it can mean a lot to many people. Although still uncertain of the weather, March brings celebration and an overall ecstatic feeling of no more winter! (What that means for those of us in the UK, not even the weather forecasters know!)
March birthdays have two stones to choose from, one being made relatively famous back in 2012 when Hollywood actress Jessica Biel received her engagement ring from Justin Timberlake. It featured two pieces of aquamarine to signify her March birthday. Bloodstone, the more traditional March birthstone, is generally less well known.
Bloodstone is also known as Heliotrope, a silicate mineral is that 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 colour 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’, very much in keeping with March’s themes of the beginning of spring.
Bloodstone historically played a part in religion, being a favourite 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. (Although it should be noted that bloodstone is not actually a true 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.
Modern sources of bloodstone are predominately Brazil, Australia and India. One ancient source of this mineral is the Kathiawar Peninsula of western India.
Aquamarine was given its name because its blue to greenish-blue colour is like that of ocean water. Because of its association with the ocean, it was worn by sailors, to protect them from harm. Aquamarine has been known to represent a few other things - purity of spirit and soul, or unity. It is also said to enhance the happiness of marriage – perhaps this is another reason Justin Timberlake chose the stone for the engagement ring.
Aquamarine is loved for its beauty. Its crystalline mineral construct helps to add to the beauty and durability of this stone. Most fans of diamonds will know the terms ‘clarity’ and ‘inclusions’ – aquamarine has high levels of clarity and less natural inclusions than most gemstones.
Aquamarine’s mineral ‘species’ of beryl creates a clear structure to aid to this feature. Pure Beryl is clear, but the addition of other minerals helps to add the coloured hues. Aquamarine in its truest form is the classic baby blue that we all know, but it can also be found in pink and greenish hues as well. Usual cuts of aquamarine are oval or emerald cut, to enhance its clarity and colour. Another great property of Aquamarine, is that it is known to gleam and glitter even in minimal lighting; perfect to wear for an evening out at a romantically-lit restaurant.
Here’s to two gorgeous gemstones, and to the arrival of spring!
“Who in this world of ours their eyes