Bloodstone Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

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Sterling silver ring with bloodstone inlay. Jewelry and photo by Jessa and Mark Anderson. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Also known as heliotrope, bloodstone is the traditional March birthstone. This dark green, opaque chalcedony with red to orange spots is a variety of plasma gemstone.

Bloodstone Value

The International Gem Society (IGS) has a list of businesses offering gemstone appraisal services.

Bloodstones are relatively inexpensive gems available in many sizes. The color and number of their spots play the primary role in their value. Stones with a greater number of deep red or dark orange spots usually sell for higher prizes. Of course, the artistry of the lapidary also contributes to the value of a piece.

German snuffbox

A German snuffbox, ca 1740, made from bloodstone and gold. 3.8 x 8.3 x 6.4 cm. Gift of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 2008. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Public Domain. (Cropped to show detail).

Bloodstone Information

Data Value
Name Bloodstone
Is a Variety of Chalcedony
Crystallography Hexagonal (trigonal), microcrystalline.
Refractive Index 1.530-1.543
Colors Dark green body with red to orange spots
Luster Waxy
Polish Luster Dull to vitreous
Hardness 6.5-7
Wearability Good
Fracture Conchoidal
Specific Gravity 2.55-2.70
Birefringence 0.003 to 0.009
Cleavage None
Dispersion None
Transparency Opaque
Birthstone March
Pleochroism None
Optics Uniaxial (+)
Optic Sign Uniaxial +
Etymology The red spots may look like drops of blood. The name “heliotrope” is from the Ancient Greek helios and tropein for "sun" and "turning." According to the ancient natural historian Pliny the Elder, this stone gives a red reflection when turned to face the sun while immersed in water.
Inclusions Actinolite, hornblende needles, iron oxides.
bloodstone - India

Bloodstone slab, India. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Does Bloodstone Make a Good Jewelry Stone?

Although bloodstones can be faceted, they are more often cabbed or carved. Like other members of the quartz family, the stone’s hardness makes it an excellent choice for a jewelry stone. The combination of deep green and blood red results in a visually striking material.

bloodstone necklace

Sterling silver necklace with five 8 x 10 mm cushion-cut bloodstones. © CustomMade. Used with permission.

What Does Bloodstone Symbolize?

Bloodstones have developed a rich folklore throughout the centuries, particularly through sympathetic associations with blood. For example, the mineralogist and folklorist George F. Kunz relates how these gems have been considered particularly effective against hemorrhages.

Bloodstones have also come to symbolize bravery, perhaps through their associations with blood, vitality, and the Roman god Mars. Bloodstone is the traditional birthstone for March, the month named after this god of war.

traditional March birthstone - A Christmas Ring

This page from A Christmas Ring, an American book on birthstones from 1879, extols the courageous virtues of March’s “tutelary gem,” bloodstone. No known copyright restrictions.

Due to the blood-like appearance of bloodstone’s spots, Christians in the Middle Ages also popularly associated the gem with martyrdom and the crucifixion of Christ.

heliotrope cameos, ca 1560

Heliotrope (bloodstone) cameos of the Holy Virgin and Jesus Christ, ca 1560, on display in Florence, Italy. Photo by sailko. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

Identifying Characteristics

Bloodstone’s body color is darker than fellow green chalcedonies such as chrysoprase and prase. Bloodstone’s opacity is caused by inclusions of actinolite or hornblende needles.

The red to orange spots distinguish bloodstones from plasma gemstones. The presence of iron oxides, such as hematite, cause these spots.  However, some bloodstones may have few or no such spots.

bloodstones - Poland

Polished heliotrope (bloodstone), Gmina Mieroszów, Suche Mountains, Poland. Photo by Adam Ognisty. Licensed under CC By 3.0.

Imitation Bloodstones

Although no synthetic bloodstones are known, gem buyers may encounter imitations or simulants. In particular, glass pieces can mimic bloodstone’s colors. For example, the Japanese glass manufacturer Iimori has produced a green “maple stone” with red “flowers” that resembles bloodstone. However, despite appearances, glass and bloodstones have very different properties. A microscopic analysis reveals the “flowers” differ significantly from bloodstone spots.

Sources

Currently, India is the largest producer of bloodstones. Many localities in the United States produce this gemstone, principally in California.

Other notable gem-quality sources include the following:

  • Australia; Brazil; Bulgaria; Canada; Czech Republic; Germany; Italy; Poland; Romania; Slovakia; South Africa.

Bloodstone Trade Names

Please note that chicken-blood stone and bloodstone are distinct gem materials.

“Blood Jasper”

Although opaque, single color, oxide-stained chalcedonies are usually considered jaspers, bloodstone isn’t typically included in that category. It lacks the grainy structure also characteristic of jaspers.

“Oriental Jasper”

Another example of a “jasper” name, this one tries to glamorize a familiar gem with an exotic association. Unfortunately, you can find many examples of this misleading naming practice that attempts to “exoticize” familiar gemstones.

How to Care for Your Bloodstone Jewelry

With no cleavage, a hardness of 6.5 to 7, and tough tenacity, bloodstones make excellent gemstones for any jewelry type. Thus, this gem requires no special care and can handle mechanical cleaning. Nevertheless, mild detergent, warm water, and a soft brush are a good choice for cleaning.

diamond signet rings with bloodstones

Stone-set signet ring in 14k white gold with bloodstone and inset 1-ct princess-cut diamond. Also, a replica in sterling silver and cubic zirconia (CZ ) to wear for activities that might put the real thing at risk. (The bloodstone, however, needs no such “stunt double”). © CustomMade. Used with permission.

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