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Definition: bloodstone from The Columbia Encyclopedia

or heliotrope, green chalcedony spotted with red, used as a gem stone. It is found in India, the United States, Brazil, and Australia.


Summary Article: Bloodstone
from Guide to Gems

Bloodstone, also known as heliotrope, is an opaque green variety of chalcedony. The name was chosen because of the stone's many red spots (caused by HAEMATITE), which resemble drops of blood. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed athletes would gain endurance by wearing it. In medieval times, some people believed the spots were originally left by Christ's blood splashing down from the cross, and the stones therefore had special powers, such as stopping a haemorrhage if touched. They also used the stone to carve sculptures depicting the crucifixion and martyrdom. The heliotrope name derives from the Greek words helios meaning ‘sun’ and tropos meaning ‘turn’ because the ancients believed it could turn the rays of the sun red and, if placed in water, show the sun as a blood red image.

Bloodstone is porous and quite soft but is a popular gemstone that is usually cut as a cabochon. It makes a popular choice for beads and pendants, as a sealstone (with an engraved device), and for mens' signet rings. It has long been cut into cameos and used for decorative carvings. With heat treatment, the green background turns to grey and the red spots change to black. Another variety of chalcedony, closely related to bloodstone, is plasma, which is also green and may have yellowish spots. The name bloodstone sometimes is mistakenly used in reference to haematite and fancy JASPER.

The main source of bloodstone is the Kathiawar Peninsula, western India. It is also found in the Urals of Russia; the Harz Mountains in Germany; the Tyrol region of Austria and Italy; Bohemia in the Czech Republic. Sources in the United States include Wyoming, Maine, New York, California, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.

Two polished bloodstone cabochons

Polished bloodstone gem

© 2003 Philip's

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