Aquamarine is March’s birthstone and its blue and green hues help usher in the springtime thaw. Greener aquamarine gemstones herald the arrival of Saint Patrick’s Day and springtime flowers while the bluer stones bring Easter Eggs to mind.
Aquamarine is both the color of sea and sky, and was always considered to be a traveler’s stone. Sailors in ancient times carved aquamarine into shapes honoring Neptune and slept with the gemstone beneath their pillows to see them home safely. Ancient Egyptians often put aquamarine beaded jewelry in their tombs to ensure a successful journey to the afterlife.
Aquamarine is closely related to emerald, but is itself a unique gemstone in that it almost never has inclusions. Clear as an ocean sky on a sunny day, most aquamarine gemstones are flawless. In fact, perfectly transparent aquamarine occurs so naturally that it was used in the early manufacture of eyeglasses and lenses.
But March has another birthstone, bloodstone, and it represents the more religious overtones of the season. Bloodstone is a type of blue-green chalcedony quartz with red inclusions. Christian lore holds that it was first formed when Christ’s blood was spilt upon the ground. It does indeed give the impression of blood-spattered jasper. The Christian explanation for the formation of bloodstone was so persuasive that bloodstone was used to carve crucifixes, holy beaded jewelry and other relics, and became known as the martyr’s stone. Bloodstone serves even today as a holy stone to wear during March when the crucifixion and the resurrection are observed.
But bloodstone is older than Christianity, and is also known as heliotrope. It was used by the Babylonians in battle, and the Egyptians associated bloodstone beaded jewelry with Isis and Horus. It was said to be a stone of courage, and some ancient healers even thought bloodstone could cure ailments of the blood.
Of the two March birthstones, aquamarine is more durable. Bloodstone scores only a 6-7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale whereas aquamarine scores an impressive 7.5-8. This makes aquamarine the more ideal birthstone because it is largely impervious to scratches, fractures, or other wear and tear. Unfortunately they are also sensitive to light, and can be faded by too much direct exposure. On the flipside, aquamarine can also be heat treated to bring out more intense color.
Of the two March birthstones, aquamarine also might be said to be more soothing. The cool sea-water tints and the dazzling shine can be entrancing; it’s no accident that aquamarine is a color most favored in spa decor around the world.
For most people, March represents a journey from winter to spring, from darkness to light, from old to new. Unsurprisingly, both March birthstones symbolize different aspects of those personal journeys. Bloodstone represents our struggles and tests of faith, whereas aquamarine represents our more visionary and ethereal journeys into springtime. For people born in March, maybe they can find room in their hearts for both of these lovely birthstones.