Are you a March baby, wondering about your birthstone?
You're in the right place. In this Learning Guide, I'll answer everything you need to know about March birthstones, and answer these questions and more
- What are the traditional march birthstones?
- Is aquamarine light blue?
- Is bloodstone expensive?
A Brief History on Birthstones
The use of birthstones dates back to biblical times, when it was recorded that 12 gemstones were placed in the breastplate of Aaron. The breastplate was believed to have been worn by the High Priest of the Israelites. The 12 stones were said to represent the 12 tribes of Israel.
From this story, different cultures and religions adapted the 12 stones to representing the 12 months in the year. There are various birthstone charts and many have been modified over the years.
In the jewelry trade, we mainly acknowledge two birthstone charts: the modern birthstones and the traditional birthstones. The modern birthstone list still retained some of the traditional gemstones, but added new ones. Today, the birthstones are recognized as:
Most people know it to have one birthstone, but there are two birthstones for the month of March: aquamarine and bloodstone.
Aquamarine is the modern day birthstone. The traditional March birthstones are bloodstones. Bloodstone was the first March birthstone, but that began to change as the interest in aquamarine gemstones gained traction.
By the 1950s, bloodstone became the secondary birthstone while aquamarine became the primary March birthstone. Aquamarines were valued more than bloodstones, so the jewelry industry was more than happy to make the change.
The Modern Day March Birthstone: Aquamarine
Aquamarine is the greenish blue to blue gemstone variety of the mineral beryl. Morganite and emeralds are also popular varieties of beryl. The name "aquamarine" is translated from the Latin words "aqua" and "mare". In direct translation, the name "aquamarine" means "water and "sea", comparing the blue color of the gemstone to the sea.
Aquamarine is primarily sold as March birthstone jewelry because its more valuable than the traditional bloodstone birthstone. Fine jewelry retailers are able to market it as a faceted gemstone for birthstone jewelry or even aquamarine engagement rings.
Aquamarine History and Lore
The discovery of aquamarine was probably one of the first gemstones around. Use of the modern march birthstones dates back to ancient times. It's highly popular in modern times too.
The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that aquamarine had the ability to protect sailors out at sea as well as aid in health problems of the liver, throat, stomach, and eyes. During the Middle Ages, people started believing that wearing aquamarine could eradicate evil spirits and protect the wearer from harm.
Famous Aquamarines in History
- In 1936, the government of Brazil gave First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt a gorgeous 1,298 carat aquamarine stone. She later had it set into a platinum brooch with a floral motif design. Eventually she made earrings to match. These pieces can actually be seen on display at the Franklin D Roosevelt Presidential library.
- The Dom Pedro is one of the largest aquamarines ever cut. It stands as a tall obelisk is also the largest fantasy cut gemstone. This stunning specimen is over 10,000 carats and can be seen on display at the Smithsonian Institution Museum in Washington DC.
- The Hirsch Aquamarine weighs over 10,000 carats and was part of the Austrian crown jewels. The large oval aquamarine is on display at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Spiritual and Healing Properties of Aquamarine
Most of aquamarine's uses in the practice of healing crystals come from its legends in history. Today, the healing properties of aquamarine birthstones are said to give the holder/wearer:
- Bring calm and awareness
- Promotes communication and speech
- Ward against fear and doubt
- Boost self confidence
- Aids in throat and respiratory issues (Associated with the throat chakra)
- Brings clarity
And because it's the modern day March birthstone, it is said that an aquamarine can be a lucky charm if kept close to one born in March.
Where is Aquamarine Found?
The main source of gem quality aquamarine is found in Brazil, but there are other notable deposits where aquamarine is mined, like:
How to Pick Aquamarine Birthstone Jewelry
When buying an aquamarine for your birthstone jewelry, you'll want to make sure you're getting a good one. Whether you're looking for an aquamarine for a ring setting or one for a pendant necklace, there's some quality factors to consider when buying a loose aquamarine.
The cut of an aquamarine isn't considered as important as the color of the stone. However, aquamarines that have been cut to the best of their ability show the most beautiful color. There is no set standard on how to cut aquamarine. The gem cutter simply optimizes the stone for color and as much carat weight as he can retain.
Poorly cut aquamarine can result in windowing. Instead of reflecting light back to the wearer, the wearer can see right through their aquamarine stone, just like a window. Windowing results in dull brilliance and paler color too.
Color is what's most important about your aquamarine. That, and personal preference.
You wouldn't know it look in most chain jewelry stores, but the best aquamarine stones are medium toned blue without any modifying hues. These can escalate in price quickly if the aquamarine is a larger carat weight. Common quality aquamarines are usually a very light blue stone, sometimes with green or yellow secondary hues.
Stay away from any opaque looking aquamarines. Most natural aquamarines are translucent to transparent, with transparent being the more valuable.
Aquamarine can have minor inclusions, but most material is eye clean. Don't buy any aquamarines that have many inclusions.
Typically, larger aquamarine stones will cost more than the smaller ones. But we all know that the price of gem doesn't limit to just one factor, but many.
Light colored aquamarine usually goes up to around $100 per carat at 3 carats or more. Medium blue aquamarine goes for around $600 per carat at 3 carats or more. And finally, top color aquamarine can go beyond $1000 per carat at these sizes.
It may or may not matter to you, but you should still be aware of gemstone treatments. Some gemstone treatments depreciate the value a lot, while others are recognized as normal and don't have a huge price distinction.
Aquamarine is often heat treated in order to enhance color and clarity. Heat treated aquamarines are permanent. Most aquamarines found in both online and brick and mortar stores have been heat treated.
Less common treatments such as fracture filling and dyeing has been done to enhance low quality aquamarine. These decimate the value of an aquamarine and aren't considered an acceptable treatment. They're not permanent either.
It can be difficult to find a source for an untreated aquamarine, if that's what you're on the hunt for. Local private jewelers or an option as well as individual sellers and other gemstone dealers.
Aquamarine may be natural, natural and treated, or lab created. Lab created aquamarine is still called synthetic aquamarine, though the industry is desperately trying to clear up the confusion of synthetic gemstones.
I talk about this a lot, but the word "synthetic" sucks. It sounds fake. Lab created stones are not fake. But not every customer knows that. These lab grown aquamarines have the same basic properties as natural aquamarines like durability, brilliance, and chemical makeup. But lab grown aquamarines have additional advantages too, such as:
- They're less expensive than natural aquamarines
- They're available in larger carat weights
- The color tends to be stronger
- The clarity is almost always eye clean in lab aquamarines
Lab created versions of colored gemstones don't have the same value as their natural counterparts. But natural aquamarine is generally too expensive, so don't expect to come upon lab grown aqua often. You're more likely to find it online.
When it comes to investing, upgrading, or reselling, lab stones aren't worth it. You may pay between $20 to $100 per carat for a lab grown aquamarine, which isn't worth reselling.
Where to Buy Aquamarines
There's not many online retailers that allow you to choose loose semi-precious gemstones like aquamarines. Fortunately, Brilliant Earth does. You can survey them in 360˚ video to see any clarity imperfections, as well as see their gemstone report.
After you've selected your perfect aquamarine, choose from many stunning ring settings to elevate your center stone.
The Traditional March Birthstone: Bloodstone
The bloodstone birthstone is a cryptocrystalline quartz mineral that opaque. It's characterized as a dark green stone with bright red spots resembling the look of blood spots. Most bloodstone found is common quality, with very little red spots.
Bloodstone may be called heliotrope in some circles. Bloodstones that show both the green color and the red spot pattern are referred to as heliotrope. Basic green bodied bloodstone with light or no spots is called plasma.
The name heliotrope is derived from the ancient Greek phrase "sun turning", which basically means to look away from the sun. Some think this name came from the way the gem turned blood red when during the setting sun.
Bloodstone History and Lore
Bloodstone is said to have been apart of the original 12 birthstones in the breastplate of Aaron. It's also said that when Jesus Christ was crucified, the blood shed from his body and splattered the green stones beneath the cross, creating the blood-spattered stone.
Kinda gruesome, yet kinda cool. Hmm.
Aside from its religious significance, bloodstone has been valued by other cultures Egyptians believe heliotrope to have protective powers, using it for amulets or as a talisman. Europeans used bloodstone to aid with blood disorders such as nosebleeds and menstruation.
In the Renaissance era, bloodstone was one of the stones used to create carving in art and jewelry. Many signet rings had bloodstone as their chosen gemstone during this period.
Spiritual and Healing Properties of Bloodstone Crystals
While not a big stone in fine jewelry, bloodstone knows its place belongs with the metaphysical world and the crystal healing crowd. Besides its history, bloodstone has believed to hold many properties, especially to the ancient Romans and Greeks. Some of these bloodstone meanings and magical properties include:
- Balancing emotions
- Aiding blood disorders
- Cleansing of the liver and kidneys
- Increase mental clarity and focus
- Promote spiritual growth
- Boost energy
It is believed that by keeping a piece of heliotrope in your pocket, it will reduce stress and preserving health too
Where is Bloodstone Found?
For thousands of years, India has been the major source of bloodstone mined in the world. However, the green gem can also be found in other areas of the world, like:
- Czech Republic
- United States
How to Pick Bloodstone Birthstone Jewelry
The things to know about choosing bloodstone birthstone jewelry are slightly different than the guidelines for picking out aquamarine stones. There's not as many details to pay attention to, but it's important to know how to choose either one of these two birthstones.
The bloodstone birthstone is characterized by its dark green body color and bright red spots. The red spots are actually red inclusions of another mineral called iron oxide, or hematite. Hematite is often found as a mineral in chalcedony.
The ideal piece of bloodstone would have the dark green forest body with bright red spots in various places on the stone. Common quality bloodstones will have small red spots that may look brownish or orangish. The best bloodstone will have large vivid red spots that contrast well with the green tone.
Bloodstone is typically cut and carved into large, rounded cabochons in order to best display its pattern. Make sure there are no rough spots, misshapen sides or any irregularities in the overall shape of the dark green stone.
Bloodstone is a dark green opaque gemstone, so you really shouldn't see any inclusions like you might with aquamarine. Instead of look through the stone, you'll want to check for any cracks, lines, or discoloration in the stone before making your final decision.
Bloodstones aren't usually measured in carats, so you may see them shown in dimensions as well. Either way, larger bloodstones that show the dark green and bright red pattern clearly are going to be more valuable. It's harder to see the beloved pattern of a bloodstone in a smaller faceted piece or in cabochons.
Read also: Top Green Gemstones
Low quality bloodstone with less distinct patterns can go for very cheap, around $20 per carat. Larger more distinct patterns with excellent contrasts of bright red and dark green can go for around $50 per carat.
The color pattern on a bloodstone is the main deciding factor on its quality. But the best bloodstone material is said to be found in India, in comparison to its other localities.
It might surprise you to know that bloodstone can also be lab created. You're less likely to find this version of it since bloodstone is fairly affordable, especially in comparison to the other March birthstone.
Read also: Bloodstone vs Dragon's Blood Jasper
Where to Buy Bloodstones
You're not likely to find your traditional bloodstone birthstone at any fine jewelry retailers. Most retailers don't sell microcrystalline gemstones. So, the places to obtain bloodstone are limited.
If you're wanting your own bloodstone crystals or bloodstone birthstone jewelry, you may want to consult your local crystal shop. If you don't have one near you, places like Etsy, Gem Rock Auctions, and other gem shows and groups can point you in the right direction.
Whether you're drawn to the tranquil blues of the aquamarine or the earthy tones of the bloodstone, each March gemstone has its own unique beauty and meaning. These would both make beautiful and meaningful and beautiful pieces of jewelry that you'll treasure for years to come.