The March gemstones are such contrasts. The aquamarine is an icy pale blue stone, transparent and calm, while the bloodstone is opaque, dark green with red flecks. This difference made me wonder where the month gemstones came from and who decided which gemstone went with each month. Many try to link back to the Old Testament as being a source and there are also lists from different cultures linking gemstones to the signs of the zodiac. According to George Kuntz, the bloodstone was linked to Aries in the Hindu culture as follows:
Who on this world of ours his eyes
to Aries opens shall be wise
If always on his hand there lies
In 1870, Tiffany & Co published a similar poem linking the bloodstone to March. Between the 15th and 20th centuries, the bloodstone was listed on various cultural charts as representing Aries and March (Kunz, The Curious Lore of precious stones, 1913). The aquamarine was linked in five charts to October.
It was the American National Retail Jeweler’s Association (now Jewellers of America (JA)) who agreed in 1912 on the birthstone list we use today, although there have been minor changes since then. In that original list, the bloodstone was listed as the March gemstone but aquamarine was listed as an alternate gemstone. Over the years, the aquamarine has become the sole birthstone for March and the bloodstone has disappeared from the JA list. The Jewellers Association of Australia only lists the aquamarine. It is still listed as a second stone on lists maintained by the American Gem Trade Association and the American Gem Society.
The way the two stones are used for jewellery is also quite different. Bloodstone has traditionally been used for signet rings, amulets, fobs and seals, but not really for necklaces, bracelets or earrings. It has a sombre feel to it and is not often seen in modern jewellery designs.
Aquamarines on the hand are light and airy, and are used in earrings, rings and necklaces, mainly worn by women.
It is easy to understand why the aquamarine appeals more to modern jewellers and their client base but it is a shame to see the disappearance of the striking bloodstone.