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March's Birthstones - Aquamarine and Bloodstone

You lucky people born in March, you have two birthstones! The traditional birthstone for the month of March is Bloodstone, but in 1912 the National Association of Jewelers (America) decided to boost the sales of other, more precious, gemstones by giving the birthstone list an update. Not every month got an extra stone, but March is one of the lucky ones that did.... and what an update! Who wouldn't love the addition of the beautiful Aquamarine to their jewellery repertoire? Here we'll take a look at both your modern and traditional birthstones, the aquamarine and bloodstone, to give you an insight into what they can mean for you.

The birthstones for March, Aquamarine and Bloodstone

What is Aquamarine?

The name Aquamarine literally translates from latin as 'sea water', and it's not hard to see how this stone got its name. Available in beautiful watery hues of blue, from the softest pale blue of a mountain-top lake to the deep aqua of a tropical ocean, the most prized aquamarine samples are those with the richest colour.

Aquamarine is a type of beryl that forms in quite large crystals. The largest found to date weighed a whopping 110.5kg, and was discovered in a Brazilian mine in 1910. It measured 48.5cm long by 40cm across and was cut into thousands of individual gemstones. The largest single piece of faceted aquamarine is the Dom Pedro Obelisk, currently on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Cut in 1992 by German gem artist Bernd Munsteiner, the aquamarine measures 35cm tall by 10cm wide and weighs 10,363 carats. Aquamarine is quite a durable gemstone, and reflects the light beautifully when faceted, and because its soft tones suit any complexion it's a perfect jewellery choice to gift to anyone.

What is Bloodstone? Bloodstone is a dark green form of chalcedony (not jasper) that has red flecks or veins through it like blood. The red is said to have come from the blood of Christ, which fell upon green jasper under the cross at His crucifixion, but really it's caused by iron oxide - that's right; rust! You can tell if your bloodstone is genuine by wiping it across a sheet of paper. Real bloodstone will leave a red streak from the spots, artificial bloodstone won't.

Bloodstone Pendant

Bloodstone is not the only name for this particular mineral; it's also known as Heliotrope, which translates from Greek as 'turn the sun' (Helios being the sun). Ancient Greeks believed that heliotrope could change the colour of the sun from gold to a blood red when thrown into water, and that the red flecks were the reflection of the sun's rays. Tiffany & Co.'s Gregorian Birthstone Poem, published in 1870, has this to say about March's birthstone ...

"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..."

Bloodstone is fairly common and can be found embedded in rocks, or tumbled on river beds, especially in India, South America, many parts of Europe, and Australia. In jewellery it is usually polished en cabochon but can be faceted for jewellery that doesn't suffer many knocks, like pendants and brooches.

What does Aquamarine symbolise?

Aquamarine symbolises honesty, loyalty and eternal youth. It has a reputation for leading to everlasting love, and for this reason it's a popular gift between brides and grooms, and the anniversary stone for a nineteenth wedding anniversary.

Think of the power of water: it has the strength to carve rock and change landscapes, to be calm and reflective, to flow smoothly around obstacles, and stay true to its course. These are the characteristics that aquamarine symbolises for its wearer.

What does Bloodstone symbolise?

Bloodstone symbolises justice and strength. Carry bloodstone with you at times of conflict.

What healing powers do Bloodstone and Aquamarine have? Aquamarine was thought to aid vision and cure short-sightedness (both real and metaphorical), as well as aid complaints of the jaw and liver. Washing the eyes with water that had had an aquamarine immersed in it, or even drinking it, was said to soothe eyes and cure cataracts.

In the middle ages, when poisoning was rife amongst royalty and politicians, aquamarine was worn as an antidote to poison.

Like a cool reflective lake, aquamarine has the ability to soothe the soul and brings a calm confidence to the wearer, whilst also increasing energy and vitality. It can also work as a boost to mental health and mood. Bloodstone is thought to be especially healing for conditions relating - not surprisingly - to blood. Wearing bloodstone is said to purify the blood, ward off illnesses, and ease menstruation and childbirth, and a poultice made from powdered bloodstone, egg white and honey was considered a very powerful treatment to stop haemorrhaging and heal tumours. Perhaps its power to treat haemorrhaging is why medieval healers used bloodstone to treat snakebites! The functions of any 'high blood' organs in the body can be greatly enhanced through the use of Bloodstone; liver, kidneys, bone marrow .... and it can even heal a broken heart!

What are the superstitions and beliefs around March's birthstones? Aquamarine: The first aquamarines were believed to have come from the jewel caskets of mermaids, which were lost to the Gods and washed ashore for mankind to find. Because of their association with Neptune, the Roman God of the Sea, and Poseidon, the Greek God of the Sea, they were thought to protect sailors on their long sea voyages and guard against attacks from krakens and other sea monsters.

Poseidon Neptune God of the Sea

With its power to enhance clarity and its availability in large sizes, aquamarine was often cut and polished into special lenses, and even crystal balls, to aid divination. Aquamarine was also thought to ensure victory in battle, success in business, and encourage rain in times of drought. Bloodstone: Soldiers in ancient times would carry Bloodstone to clot their wounds after battle, and to increase strength and courage. Egyptians even believed that bloodstone had magical properties that could help them defeat their enemies by making their enemy's eyes pass over them unnoticed. In other cultures around the world, bloodstone has been believed to be capable of changing the weather, helping win success in business, and giving the wearer the gift of foresight and tranquility. Wear bloodstone to ensure a long and prosperous life, and to protect against threats and bullying - or gift it to someone you love to keep them safe. Did you notice similarities between the properties of bloodstone and aquamarine? Maybe the National Association of Jewelers were onto something when they paired the aquamarine to bloodstone for March's birthstone! Historical notes on March's birthstones.

Aquamarine: People have been enjoying aquamarine for thousands of years. It's been found in Egyptian tombs, ancient Greek artwork, and Roman artefacts. In fact, the Roman Emperor Nero, famous for fiddling while Rome burned, was recorded by Pliny as using aquamarine lenses to help him better see the action during gladiatorial battles. In the renaissance period, German optometrists would use aquamarine to make the lenses for their spectacles.

Queen Elizabeth II in Aquamarine Crown Jewels

The Brazilian government is very proud of its aquamarine deposits and frequently makes gifts of aquamarine to visiting dignitaries. Queen Elizabeth II has a tiara featuring a large aquamarine, gifted to her from the people of Brazil on her coronation, which she still wears on state occasions. In 1936 First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited Rio de Janeiro with her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, where she was gifted a rough aquamarine weighing 1.3kg! She had the stone cut into two gems; the largest, known now as the Eleanor Roosevelt Aquamarine, weighing 1298 carats. You can see it on display at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum in New York's Hyde Park. Bloodstone: Because of its association with the blood of Christ, early Christians would carve the images of martyrs into bloodstone talismans (leading it to have yet another name; the Martyr's Stone). Bloodstone was also the stone of choice to be carved into seals for legal documents, and was a popular choice for ceremonial drinking vessels.

Bloodstone Dragon Drinking Vessel, early 17th Century

"The Descent from the Cross" is a famous bloodstone carving. Carved by Matteo de Nessaro in 1525, the carving is so well done that the red spots within the stone correspond exactly with Christ's wounds from His crucifixion. Curiously, Google has been remarkably reluctant to share any info or pictures of The Descent of Christ, so if you can shed any more light on this interesting bloodstone please let us know! Image: Dragon drinking

Were you born in March?

If you are a March baby invest in, or request, a gift of aquamarine or bloodstone. As your birthstones all their magical properties will be enhanced for you, ensuring a tranquil, amiable and healthy life, and remember, March-born people are intuitive, adaptable, peace-loving and devoted. Does that sound like you?


Next week: "Gemology: Gemstones beginning with K..."


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