Gem Profile August 12: Bloodstone

By on August 11, 2011
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
August 12, 2011

Today's Gem Profile is...
Bloodstone
one of a series, The Wonders of Jasper

This article is one of a five-part series on Jasper. Here is a complete list of our Jasper articles: What is Jasper?, Bloodstone, Picture Jasper, Patterned Jasper, Beautifully Colored Jasper

Bloodstone Facts

Bloodstone Jasper Cabochon Pendant

WS Faculty member Sherrie Lingerfelt used both red and bloodstone jasper cabochons to create this attractive double pendant, using 14k gold-filled wire.

In Part 1 of this series on jasper, I mentioned that jasper and agate are often confused. One example is the deep green gemstone with bright red spots, or splashes, that we know as bloodstone. All jasper is a microcrystalline form of chalcedony, but because bloodstone is sometimes translucent it can also fall into the classification of agate. Common or "ordinary quality" bloodstone is a forest green color with many inclusions, and has only a few areas of red. This variety has been called a gem-"rock", but is not considered to be of gem quality. The type of bloodstone that is considered to be a gem-"stone" is a high-quality, translucent, rich green with many well distributed bright red splashes. (Now you can understand why the gem-"stone" version is often described as an agate!)

Bloodstone Pendant

Bloodstone Pendant wrapped with 14kt gold filled wire by Judi Hogan

The beautiful forest green of bloodstone comes from iron, actinolite, and chlorite content, and the red is due to the presence of iron minerals. Sometimes the included iron and chlorite can mass in dense areas giving the appearance of moss, resulting in bloodstone occasionally being mistaken for moss agate. During the formation of jasper, many minerals layer, creating a wide variety of colors that hue, spot and blend or stipple together on the deep green background, (almost like a painter didn’t fully clean their brush before adding another color to a canvas) and the effect is stunning! But because the red spotted green is not really "pure," this material is given yet another name, "fancy jasper."

Rough bloodstone

Chunks of jasper rough. Notice the "bloodstone" on the left, consistent deep green with well distributed red spots. On the right the red/green combo melds into a variety of other colors showing the bloodstone evolving into "fancy jasper." Private collection, Dale Armstrong


Bloodstone and Fancy Jasper Cabochons

A collection of jasper cabochons; on the left and bottom is common bloodstone while on the right "fancy jasper." Private collection, Dale Armstrong


Bloodstone Heart Pendant

Bloodstone Heart Pendant wire wrapped by Beverly Brown

Common bloodstone is as abundant as all jaspers but it is primarily found in Australia, China, Brazil, Scotland, Russia, and North America. The reason jasper varieties easily take a nice polish is due to jasper’s close mineral structure and consistency. This feature makes common bloodstone and "fancy" jasper very popular with jewelry designers; the variety of shapes and sizes of beads and cabochons is amazing. (I recently told an associate that I would feel comfortable and prepared if I took only the collection of beads below (photograph) and nothing else to a weekend class, because fancy jasper provides a favorite color for everyone!)

Jasper and bloodstone beads

A lovely pile of bloodstone and fancy jasper beads. Private collection, Dale Armstrong

Bloodstone’s Origin and Aliases

Bloodstone cabochon pendant

Bloodstone cabochon pendant wire wrapped by Vicky Martin

The origin of the name "bloodstone" has several theories. Christian legends include a story of how the hill that Christ was crucified on was covered in deep green jasper rock, and when His blood was splattered upon them, the blood permeated all green jasper on the earth, turning the jasper into Bloodstone, which then became a healing stone. However in the Old Testament, bloodstone was one of the required cabochons to be set into the breastplate of the High Priest, and these two Biblical stories conflict in a timeline.

Many folks may not know that another name for bloodstone is Heliotrope. This name comes to us from the Greek astronomer Pliny, who surmised that the stone could assist in viewing the sun when cut thin enough to be used as a mirror or lens ("helios" means sun). Heliotrope became the birthstone for the month of March (along with aquamarine).

Bloodstone and Culture

Bloodstone Gold Filled Pendant

Bloodstone pendant wire wrapped with 14kt gold-filled wire by Jane Elizabeth Duke

Obviously associated with blood and therefore the human circulatory system, ancient Asian cultures have used powdered bloodstone in many medicinal applications both in the past as well as currently. Metaphysical practitioners relate bloodstone to the healing of nose bleeds and as a general blood cleanser. Bloodstone is also used for removing blocks in circulation and ancient Egyptians thought that it aided in the removal of tumors. Bloodstone is also the astrological gem for those born under the sign of Pisces.

Now let’s go back to the question I asked in Part 1 of The Wonders of Jasper. Is Albina Manning’s lovely necklace an agate or a jasper? Answer: it is made using "fancy" jasper!

Next week we will explore the many varieties of "landscape", or picture jasper. Have you wire wrapped Picture Jasper, or Landscape Jasper, before? Send pictures to tips@wire-sculpture.com and they could be featured!

Resources

Print Resources:

  • The Audubon Society Field Guide to North America Rocks and Minerals by Charles W. Chesterman and Kurt E. Lowe, ISBN 0-394-50269-8
  • Love Is in The Earth by Melody, ISBN 0-9628190-3-4

Internet Resources:

Gem Profile by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

Find Bloodstone on Wire-Sculpture.com
Bloodstone Beads Bloodstone Cabochons
Shop Bloodstone Beads Shop Bloodstone Cabochons

Click to Receive Daily Tips by Email


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6 Comments

  1. avatar

    Josephine

    August 12, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    I so love these educational articles that you do. It gives me Ideas for the promotion of some of my jewellery.And to find out that the bloodstone is my birth stone is great as its always been a favourite.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      August 13, 2011 at 9:21 am

      Thanks so much Josephine! That is exactly why we decided to add the Gem Profile series! To help folks to be able to sell their wire jewelry designs by being able to tell potential customers a bit more about a piece :)
      (Funny thing- many years ago I wondered why agates attracted me so, when I found out that it is the astrological stone for Gemini (my sign)- it made total sense!)

  2. avatar

    Kellie

    August 19, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I also love, love, love receiving the Gem Profile each week. Thank you so much for putting this out here for us. I print it (in color) each week and have them in a file to refer to when making my jewelry. This way I can talk to customers about the gems in my pieces.

    Again, Thanks to Dale and WS.

    Have a great weekend.
    Kellie

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      August 19, 2011 at 11:11 pm

      You are so very welcome Kellie :) I welcome the opportunity to write a Gem Profile each week because it keeps my head “in rocks” – which is where my whole “wired” career began. I am so pleased that so many of our readers enjoy them. (I also have to admit that digging stuff out for photography is helping to organize my lapidary room too!)

  3. Pingback: Gem Profile May 4: Orbicular Agate and Botryoidal Agate | Jewelry Making Blog | Information | Education | Videos

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