Bloodstone is a reasonably well known form of chalcedony that is known for having little red or brown flecks. Some believe that these flecks resemble stains of blood, hence the name Bloodstone. The reddish spots are caused by impurities (of iron oxide), and they give Bloodstones quite a distinct and unique appearance. Bloodstone is sometimes also known as Heliotrope, although this name is going out of fashion.
Etymology & Sources
The term ‘Bloodstone’ clearly comes from the red and brown inclusions that often mark Bloodstones, however the older and less used term, Heliotrope, has a more interesting background. Helio in ‘greek’ means sun, and ‘Tropos’ means turns toward, so ‘Heliotrope’ essentially means ‘to turn towards the sun’. Some believe that the gemstone was so named because its color resembled a type of plant with the same name that would turn towards the sun as it grew. Bloodstone is pretty common, and can be found in significant quantities in the US, India, Australia, Madagascar, Germany, Brazil, China, and Scotland.
Bloodstone normally comes in a dark green color, but it is also known to be a dark blue/grey, green/blue, or green/brown. Obviously the distinguishing characteristic of bloodstones is the red or brown flecks/spots that often mark the surface of it – as we already mentioned, these are caused by iron oxide impurities in the stone. Bloodstone is rarely uniform in color, and most speicmens are found with a somewhat uneven color distribution with darker and lighter areas.
Bloodstone has similar hardness to other chalcedony quartz – around 6.5-7.0 on the mohs scale. It has an Refractive Index value of 1.53-1.54 and density of 2.58-2.6, which is again similar to other forms of chalcedony.
Bloodstone is very commonly cut into cabochons, and are particularly popular among hobbyist jewelers and as such are often found as free form stones or fashioned into beads. It’s also not uncommon to find larger specimens of Bloodstone faceted, particularly into rounder shapes that lack edges such as ovals and hearts. Because Bloodstone is quite affordable and also has reasonably good hardness, it can be used for most forms of jewelry – occasionally it can also be found as statuettes or carvings.
Bloodstones are not usually treated – they are usually sold as is, remaining in the same condition from the time they’re mined until they reach the consumer.