Possibly to mark the transition from winter to spring – or probaly because more is more is more – the month of March has two gorgeous green birthstones to choose from: cool, watery-hued aquamarine and organic, earthy bloodstone.
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From the Latin for water, aqua, and the sea, marina, (that whole more is more thing again) aquamarine is a beryl that comes in a range of blues, from sugary pastel to deep and dark navy (Intensely-green beryl is known as Emerald). Aquamarine’s most desired shade is its signature seawater hue, which was once believed to help cool testy tempers. Particularly hotheaded sailors of old, who slept with the stone to ensure a sound night’s rest and carried them when awake to remain levelheaded and thus help insure a safe voyage, even in the stormiest seas. Even the mythical mermaid’s tail was said to have been made from “the lovely aquamarine, which seems to have come from some mermaid’s treasure house, in the depths of a summer sea, has charms not to be denied,” according to one ancient aquamarine enthusiast, the philosopher Pliny.
The stone’s association with water extended to that which fell from the sky and it was often used in ceremonies held to bring rain – or, alternatively, to inflict drought upon one’s enemies. As a tool of divination, aquamarines were cast into bowls of pure water, the resulting disturbances to the surface thought to reveal messages. The Sumerians, Egyptians, and Hebrews valued the aquamarine as a shiny symbol of happiness and youth eternal, while St. Thomas praised it for the way it “imitated the air and the sea.” It later showed up in the 14th century in William Langland’s “The Vision Concerning Piers and the Plowman,” (1377) which suggests wearing aquamarines as an antidote for poison, a shockingly common occurrence plaguing the European royals of the period.
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Aquamarine is mined mainly in Brazil, where, in 1910, the largest ever stone was discovered, weighing a mindboggling 243 pounds. When cut into smaller stones, it yielded an astonishing 200,000+ carats. Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan, Mozambique, India, Russia and South America also feature significant deposits of aquamarines. But there are apparently enough to be found in North America that it is the official stone of the state of Colorado.
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The vibrant spots of red (from iron oxide) in bloodstone are responsible for its descriptive name, which legend attributes to drops of Christ’s blood staining some jasper at the foot of the cross. Evocative, certainly, but in fact bloodstone is not a type of jasper; rather, it is chalcedony quartz.
Its use in carvings and sculpting of symbols and seals representing flagellation and martyrdom have resulted in bloodstone being known as the “martyr’s stone.” The Babylonians used bloodstone to make amulets and seals, as did the German Emperor Rudolf II, whose magnificent bloodstone seal can now be found in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Known as a stone of healing and courage, it was once used to treat ailments involving the kidneys, liver, intestines, bladder, spleen and, not surprisingly, the blood. Eyesight and rashes, too (for whatever reason). Apparently a ninja amongst birthstones, bloodstone was also believed to amp up ones talents and abilities, while helping the wearer to behave less selfishly!
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Bloodstone is primarily found in India, Brazil, and Australia, embedded in rocks or as pebbles in riverbeds. And lastly, here’s a fun insider factoid: The “blood drops” can vary tremendously from heavy spotting to almost none; when they are colored yellow rather than the customary red or reddish-brown, they are referred to in the trade as “plasma”.
To get a little flash of blue, check out Isharya’s Amazonite, Abalone, or Turquoise gemstone jewelry! If you’re inspired by the bloodstone, Isharya’s Carnelian jewelry is just as dazzling. Be sure to hashtag your favorite birthstone with #ISHARYA !