Bloodstone Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

Bloodstone

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 Information

Data Value
Name Bloodstone
Is a Variety of Chalcedony
Crystallography Hexagonal, 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 (traditional).
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 necklace

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

Comments

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.

snuffbox - bloodstone

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).

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. They 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. During the Middle Ages, Christians also associated the gem with martyrdom and the crucifixion of Christ.

bloodstone - traditional March birthstone

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.

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.

This cup was carved from bloodstone in 1557 by the Milanese artist Gasparo Miseroni. “Cup in the Form of a Shell by Gasparo Miseroni (Kremlin exhibition, Moscow 2011)” by shakko is licensed under CC By-SA 3.0

This cup was carved from bloodstone in 1557 by the Milanese artist Gasparo Miseroni. “Cup in the Form of a Shell by Gasparo Miseroni (Kremlin exhibition, Moscow 2011)” by shakko. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

Synthetics

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; Romania; Slovakia; South Africa.

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

See the previous entry. Unfortunately, you can find many examples of this misleading naming practice that attempts to “exoticize” a familiar gem name.

Care

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.

bloodstone and diamond signet rings

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.