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All About the March Birthstone

by Annie Earnshaw
Last updated on February 10, 2022

March babies are lucky enough to have two gems as the March birthstone. The March birthstones are aquamarine and bloodstone. Aquamarine’s clear blue colors make for gorgeous everyday and occasion jewelry. Bloodstone’s rich history and unique colors create striking jewelry pieces that are sure to impress.

Why There Are Two March Birthstones

You may know aquamarine as March’s birthstone, but that wasn’t always the case. Bloodstone is actually the traditional March birthstone. However, the National Association of Jewellers added aquamarine to the March birthstone roster.

They made this change in response to market preference. Consumers wanted a more accessible and affordable option for the March birthstone. Aquamarine was a top choice for its variety and clarity.

Today, aquamarine is the primary March birthstone. Because of the stone’s pale blue color, blue is the most common color for March birthstones. If you want a stone that represents March but you don’t need or want an aquamarine, any blue stone will do the trick.

March isn’t alone in having two birthstones. It’s actually quite common. June, August, October, November, and December also have more than one birthstone, sometimes up to three.

First March Birthstone: Aquamarine

The first birthstone for March is aquamarine. Aquamarine typically has a pale blue-green color that shows off its clarity and size. Dark blue gemstones tend to have a more intense color, which makes them more valuable. The March birthstone is also a traditional 16th or 19th-anniversary gift. Some say that aquamarines are supposed to bring happiness to a marriage!

Aquamarine is a variety of the mineral beryl. The beryl family also includes famous gemstones like emeralds and morganite.

The History of Aquamarine

The name “aquamarine” derives from the Latin word aqua, which means “water,” and the Latin word marina, which means “the sea.”

In ancient times, mariners believed that aquamarines came from the bejeweled boxes of sirens. This March gemstone fell off of the sirens’ jewel caskets and washed ashore. Because the stones supposedly came from the ocean, the gems were precious to Neptune, the Roman god of the sea. Mariners nicknamed aquamarines “the sailor’s gem” and would carry them as talismans. The deep blue stones were supposed to bring about smooth seas and protect sailors from sea monsters out in open water.

On land, many cultures used aquamarine for its healing properties and magical properties. Aquamarine supposedly gave the wearer mental clarity with also acting against poison. It was widely used by soothsayers who would use the precious stone to tell fortunes and predict the future.

One story about Emperor Nero claims he used an aquamarine eyeglass some 2,000 years ago. Later, the gemstone was used again in Germany to correct short-sightedness. Today, the German word for “glasses” is brille, which comes from the German word for “beryl.”

The Origins of Aquamarine

Aquamarine naturally grows in six-sided crystals that can be up to a foot long. For a more ethical and environmentally-conscious option, lab-grown aquamarines come in a variety of settings and styles.

The Brazilian state of Minas Gerais is a major aquamarine producer. The Karakorum foothills of Pakistan are also aquamarine mining hotspots. In order to access the stones, miners climb to an elevation of 9,800-13,000 feet (3,000-4,000 meters). Aquamarines also grow in the Mount Antero region of Colorado. Because of this, aquamarine is Colorado’s state gem.

In addition to these central locations, aquamarines also exist naturally in Kenya, Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Mozambique, China, Myanmar, Russia, and Ukraine.

Aquamarine’s Ideal Setting

The size of aquamarine crystals makes them easy to cut and polish. One crystal can produce several large aquamarine stones. For example, Princess Diana famously wore a large aquamarine ring after her divorce from Prince Charles.

Even if you’re not looking for jewels fit for a princess, light blue aquamarine is a cost-effective option for statement jewelry. Paler blue gems and stones with a bluish-green color tend to go for a more reasonable price. In the gem world, deep blue aquamarines are rarer and more valuable.

Because aquamarine has virtually no yellow tones, it looks stunning with all metal types and on all skin tones. It also pairs well with other gemstones. Aquamarine is perfect for settings like three-stone engagement rings.

Care and Cleaning

Aquamarine is a pretty durable gem. It ranks between 7.5 and 8.5 on the Mohs hardness scale and is durable enough for everyday wear.

Clean your aquamarine with warm water and mild dish soap. You can also use a soft toothbrush to scrub away any visible dirt. Ultrasonic cleaners and steam cleaning are typically safe as long as your gemstone has no fractures or liquid inclusions.

Second March Birthstone: Bloodstone

The second birthstone for March is the bloodstone, which is a more traditional choice for March babies. This dark green gemstone features vibrant specks of a red iron oxide called hematite. Hematite’s bright red color sometimes looks like blood, hence the name “bloodstone.”

Bloodstone is highly prized for its symbolism and historical significance. Bloodstone is said to increase strength and preserve both health and youth.

Today, bloodstone is a common good luck charm. Athletes carry bloodstones when they want to increase their strength and prolong their health.

The History of Bloodstone

The name “aquamarine” alludes to the ocean, but the sun is bloodstone’s domain. Bloodstone’s other name is heliotrope, which is the Ancient Greek word for “to turn the sun.” The gem likely got its name from an old belief that the sun would turn red if they put bloodstone in a body of water.

Bloodstone had medicinal uses as well. Many believed bloodstone could clot nosebleeds, cure tumors, and stop hemorrhages.

Like modern athletes, gladiators carried bloodstone to increase their skills. Some gladiators even believed that bloodstone would make them invisible to their opponents. Ancient lawyers and barristers also used bloodstone as a talisman; they believed it would influence the outcome of courtroom decisions.

Italian artist Matteo del Nassaro carved a famous crucifixion scene from a bloodstone in approximately 1525. The carving is titled “The Descent from the Cross.” Del Nassaro carved the bloodstone specifically so the red spots would represent the blood of Christ.

The Origins of Bloodstone

Bloodstone doesn’t look like your typical birthstone, and here’s why.

Bloodstone is a variety of chalcedony (also known as cryptocrystalline quartz). Chalcedony is a type of polycrystalline quartz, meaning that bloodstone is made of lots of tightly-packed crystal forms. Other types of polycrystalline quartz include agate, onyx, carnelian, aventurine, and tiger’s eye.

While bloodstone is often called dark green jasper, it’s not actually a member of the jasper family. Jaspers often have a grainy structure, which bloodstone does not have.

Bloodstone is often found as pebbles along riverbeds, which is why bloodstone is often found polished into smooth, organic shapes. You can also find bloodstone embedded in other rocks.

Today, most bloodstone on the market comes from India. Prominent mining operations also exist in Brazil, Australia, China, Italy, and South Africa. In the United States, California is also a prominent producer of bloodstone.

Bloodstone’s Ideal Setting

Bloodstone comes in a variety of settings that range from traditional to adventurous.

You can easily find bloodstone jewelry that’s designed for everyday wear. Beaded strands are popular since jewelers often cut and polish smaller gems into beads.

For a truly unique look, carved bloodstone jewelry is a great way to go. Throughout history, artisans have used bloodstone to create carved seals, cameos, and signet rings. Add a vintage touch to any outfit with a new or secondhand bloodstone piece.

Care and Cleaning

Bloodstone is a 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale, making it slightly softer than aquamarine. While generally safe for everyday wear, keep your bloodstone away from extreme temperatures and harsh chemicals. This will help you avoid any discoloration.

Bloodstone is typically very smooth, which makes cleaning a breeze. Running our stone under lukewarm water should do the trick for regular cleaning. For a deeper cleanse, use warm water, mild soap, and a soft brush.

Soft materials are the best way to prevent scratching your bloodstone. Dry your stone with a soft cloth and store it on a gentle fabric like velvet.

How to Buy Your March Birthstone

Now that you’ve identified which March birthstone is for you, how do you go about purchasing one? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

The Four C’s

You might know the Four C’s in terms of diamond shopping, but they apply to other precious stones as well. Here’s a quick guide to learn about what makes high-quality stones.

Cut

Cut refers not to the shape of your gemstone, but how light behaves when it enters the gemstone! Shape refers to the outline of your gemstone. Common shapes include round, princess, oval, and cushion.

Like diamonds, aquamarines are available in a wide variety of shapes and cuts. Jewelers often cut aquamarines as emerald-cut gemstones because the long lines emphasize the size of the stone.

Bloodstones are opaque, meaning no light passes through them. Because of this, the cut of your bloodstone matters more for the shape and setting than for light refraction.

One thing to note about bloodstone’s shine is that the stone may appear waxy rather than shiny, but this is perfectly normal. The unique structure of bloodstone causes it to reflect differently from other gemstones.

Color

Aquamarines are mainly priced because of their color. Unlike diamonds, darker is better when it comes to aquamarines. Darker aquamarines are rarer than light blue aquamarines, so keep this in mind when shopping for your March birthstone. You might find a lighter stone more easily and at a lower cost.

Bloodstone’s color varies highly. Unlike aquamarine, you’ll probably find that the dark green color of bloodstone varies from light to dark within the stone. Bloodstone also appears in two varieties: heliotrope (more transparent with red spots) and plasma (opaque with minimal red detail). Bloodstone with more red detail tends to be more expensive.

Clarity

Clarity measures the number of inclusions and blemishes. Inclusions are imperfections that occur naturally on the inside of the diamond. Blemishes are imperfections that occur on the outside of the diamond as a result of the cutting and polishing process.

Aquamarines can be graded like diamonds because they are translucent. Bloodstones, however, are typically opaque so you won’t get much clarity.

Carat

Aquamarines are readily available in larger sizes, so carat weight is not a clear way to determine the price. Often, aquamarines over 25 carats have a lower price-per-carat than smaller stones. The divide in price is because larger stones are so difficult to set in jewelry.

Bloodstones have a more traditional price structure. Because the gemstone is abundant in nature, the price increases proportionally with the carat weight.

Published by Annie Earnshaw

Annie Earnshaw is a content intern at Clean Origin.