Heliotrope Gemstones - Also known as Bloodstone gem
Bloodstone is also referred to as the martyr’s gem, and the reason for this will soon become apparent as you read through this article. Bloodstone, also known as Heliotrope, is a green jasper that has very bright reddish spots, caused by the presence of iron oxide; this is a gemstone that was very popular in ancient times, and for a long time, has been regarded as the birthstone for the month of March. The reason why this wonderfully beautiful chalcedony quarts, is sometimes called heliotrope, is because in the ancient times, all highly polished gemstones were said to be able to reflect the sun; it is quite possible that the appearance of this gemstone resembled the way the setting sun would look like when it was viewed as a reflection of the surface of the waters of the sea.
In medieval times, the Christians used to make use of bloodstone when they made carvings describing scenes about the crucifixion, and also about other martyrs, and this is the reason why it was known as the martyr’s gem. There are legends that say that the stone originally came into being when the blood of Jesus Crist fell and stained the rocks at the bottom of the cross. The Louvre, in Paris, is the home of one exemplary specimen of carved bloodstone, which bears the seal of the German Emperor known as Rudolf II.
To this very day, in India, finely crushed bloodstone is still used as an aphrodisiac and medicine. This is probably the reason why it is very hard to get fine specimens of this gemstone on the market today. Bloodstone is found in India, the United States of America and Australia.
A profile of heliotrope gemstone, or bloodstone gemstone
Before the year 1912, when the forerunner of the Jewelers of America, revised the bloodstone list of the country, Chalcedony used to hold at least 5 and at times 6 places in the roster that was written earlier, and this made this group the most represented of all quartz gemstones in the world. Today, you will find that Jasper, Agate, Carnelian and Chrysoprase are not to be found in the roll of birthstones. It is only sardonyx and Bloodstone that are still in the list, and sometimes they are replaced by other chalcedony gemstones.
When you look at the heliotrope, it has been the sole birthstone for the month of March since it was first classified, and it is now receiving a second billing in the 20th century roll. This is a slap in the face for this gemstone, but it reflects the way in which people are preferring crystalline gemstones as birthstones, rather than ornamental ones. This is due to the fact that ornamental gemstones are opaque and therefore cannot be faceted and this has according them the place of being second-rate gemstones. It is therefore ironic that one of the most popular ornamental gemstone that is still highly regarded as a birthstone, is the black onyx, which is not natural and is actually a dyed chalcedony.
As for a myriad other ornamentals gemstones, which have played a great role in the history of jewelry, most of them are considered to be anachronisms today, and are only favored by hobbyists, practitioners of ancient ways of making art out of these gemstones, such as carving and engraving and rock hounds. The artistic carvings were usually the main applications that these gemstones were put to. This is the reason why it is significant that the bloodstone is still put on the list of modern birthstones, although some people say that this is mainly a token and not deserved. This is the last connection to the sacred tradition, which usually looked at gemstones as amulets and not adornments and as talismans rather than trinkets.
Seals of stone
The main role that Chalcedony played in the jewelry industry, in the ancient times, is not too hard to comprehend; one can see that gemstones, in the earlier civilizations, were mainly used in the making of seals. In Ancient Assyria and Babylonia, these seals were considered to be the de riguer items for all men of means, and they were usually set in their rings.
It was not long before this trend became the norm for all prominent people. In the bible, you will find a reference to the fact that King Solomon did have such a ring as a seal, and Moses is the one who said that only the stones that were used to make seals could be used on the 12-gem breastplate that was made in around 1300 BC, which his brother Aaron, the first Chief Priest, or Rabbi at the temple in Jerusalem wore. The famous gemologist, George F. Kunz, in his famed book ‘The Curious Lore of Precious Stones,’ says that six of the 12 gemstones were then used in making vestments for celebrated people and rulers. The most likely were one onyx, two agates and three jaspers.
Modern Cynics have been known to pour water on these claims, saying that the quartzes were used because quartz, at the time, was the most available gemstone. This is not the case. It has been shown, through a study if the history of gemstone lapidary, that early cutters and carvers could also have easily used garnets in making these popular items; garnets such as Lapis Lazuli and Serpentine were quite abundant. As time went on, the cutters started expanding the range of stones that they used and included Malachite, Beryl, Zircon and Turquoise, among many others. However, the search for quartzes that could easily be carved continued.
Now this is how bloodstone came to the fore as a good stone for this purpose. This is an amalgam of two chalcedonies; one is the deep red jasper and the other is the dark green plasma. This gemstone can best be described as one showing a field of forest green, which is speckled with spots of blood red. Since this is a gemstone that has very interesting colors, the myths that surround it, from ancient times, can be very fiery.
For example, you can look at the Greek name for this gemstone, heliotrope, which is actually the name that the stone was given until it was recently changed. When translated literally, it means ‘to turn towards the sun’. According to Pliny the Elder, who lived until the year 79 AD, and who was a roman soldier who wrote one of the first and most influential books, for centuries, about the myths of gems, the name comes from the fact that bloodstone when placed in water and pointed towards the sun has a very fiery appearance.
Another example can be seen in how the Christians looked at the gemstone; early Christians had a belief that the gemstone was closely related to the crucifixion of Jesus Crist. They said that the gemstone was formed when the blood of Crist trickled to the foot of the cross, where the rock was actually jasper. When you look at the myths surrounding this gemstone, then it is no wonder that it was a very popular and powerful talisman for people who lived through the medieval and Renaissance times in Europe. Dr. Herman Bank, in his book entitled, ‘From the World of Gemstones,’ says the following, which is actually the reminiscing of the childhood experiences of an Italian Painter, who goes by the name of Giorgio Vasari, and who lived between the years 1511 and 1574. He says that one Luca Signorelli, would realize that the painter was suffering from nose bleeds and would sometimes faint, and every time that it happened, he would personally string a bloodstone around the neck of the boy.
To this very day, Bloodstone is said to have many other virtues apart from the fact that it makes wonderful adornments and works of art. One Shanti Shah, from Indogems Inc., in New York, is quoted as saying that the finely ground gemstone, in countries such as Sri Lanka and India, is still said to be a powerful aphrodisiac as well as a strong medicine. Shah says that medicine practitioners still use this remedy for various ailments.
It is the fact that bloodstone is valued as a medicinal stone as well as a wonderful jewelry piece that is attributed to the low amounts of heliotrope that are found in the market. Dealers can get some qualities of heliotrope from Australia, California, and Wyoming, but the best can only be found in the mining areas of Poona and Aurangabad, which are very rich in gemstones and other minerals and are located to the South East of Bombay, now Mumbai. However, today, the region has a production that cannot equal the demand for bloodstone in the market.
In New York, one of the firms that specialize in importing ornamental gemstones, Lucien Stern Inc., a buyer has been depicted as saying that the material that is found in the market does not reach the required standards. She says that she may have opted to buy the available quality in order to keep up with the required stocks, but being a purists, she cannot buy the bloodstone specimens that are easily available in the market; she says that she cannot stand the poor quality, and therefore high quality bloodstone is very rare.
This is a hardline position that is shared by many other jewelers, and this has led to a situation where bloodstone stocks have hit an all-time low. Shah says that for the past few years, there has not been great quality bloodstone on the market and the available specimens are not up to par.
Due to this rarity, the price of bloodstone has increased phenomenally; this is not only for the high quality specimens, but for all qualities available. However, like all other ornamental gemstones, bloodstone is still very affordable, especially when you consider that it has a rich tradition of connoisseurship.
Bloodstone is very significant to the zodiac sign of Aries. In ancient times, this was a treasured gemstone, and was originally known as heliotrope, a name that was recently changed to bloodstone. The gemstone has always served as the birthstone for the month of March, until in 1912, it when it was replaced by aquamarine. This gemstone was once referred to as a martyr’s stone, and it was also reverently used by medieval Christians to carve out scenes that depicted the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Christian legend says that this gemstone was originally formed when the blood of Jesus Christ fell at the foot of the cross where it stained the jasper that was laying beneath. The German Emperor Rudolf II is said to have placed a seal on one of the most renowned bloodstone carvings and tit can be seen at the Louvre, in Paris.
According to mythology, this is a gemstone that has got many virtues ascribed to it. It is said to be good for the circulation of blood in the body, and is therefore a very powerful aphrodisiac, since it allows for the full stimulation of the genital areas. It is also said to help in the flow of energy in the body, another virtue that lends itself to the fact that it can be used as an aphrodisiac. The gemstone is said to remove any block to the energy flow through the chakras, and when it is placed in a prominent place in the home, it is said to ensure that the people in the house experience an enhanced flow in the flow of life’s energy.
The famous gemologist and mineralogist George Frederick Kunz wrote and said the following, ‘Aries. Who on this world of ours his eyes, in Aries open shall be wise, if always on his hand there lies a Bloodstone.’
Bloodstone gem is classified as a member of the group of gemstones known as Chalcedony, and these in turn are part of the cryptocrystalline varieties of the family of quartz gemstones. The main places where bloodstone is obtained from are mines in China, India, United States of America, Brazil and Australia.