Jewellery-lovers born in March are spoilt for choice as this month has two contrasting, but equally fascinating, birthstones.
Clear and serene, aquamarine sparkles like the crystal waters of the ocean, while the intense, dramatic bloodstone represents strength and courage. These two stones could hardly be more different.
Ranging from pale blue to light green, it is the dreamy colour of the aquamarine that gives this gemstone its status. With a name coming from the Latin for “colour of the sea”, it is obvious why the traditional March birthstone has always been associated with the ocean.
Like emerald, aquamarine is a gem-quality form of the mineral beryl. The presence of iron impurities turns colourless beryl into aquamarine.
This highly translucent gemstone comes in a range of hues, from almost colourless to deep blue or green. The more vivid a stone’s colour, the higher its value. The most intensely-coloured are Santa Maria aquamarines, which originate from Brazil. These rare stones, which are a deeply saturated blue, generally command the highest price tag.
While a clear aquamarine can be a more affordable alternative to a diamond, most people associate this March birthstone with a blue-green colour that is reminiscent of the Mediterranean Sea.
Aquamarine was considered sacred to Neptune, the Roman God of the sea. Ancient Greek and Roman sailors and fishermen used the stone to calm stormy waters and bring good luck on their voyages. It was favoured by the apostle St Thomas when he travelled by boat.
The stone is also believed to quiet stormy emotions and some people still rely on it for its calming and soothing effects. Being the 19th wedding anniversary stone, aquamarine is also associated with a harmonious marriage. Because it is a relatively hard stone, it can make the perfect choice for an engagement or eternity ring.
On his wedding day, Prince Harry gave his bride Meghan Markle a yellow gold cocktail ring, which had belonged to his mother, Princess Diana. The star of this striking piece is a 30-carat emerald-cut pale blue aquamarine.
Justin Timberlake famously proposed to Jessica Biel with a stunning diamond and aquamarine engagement ring. The eye-catching piece was included in Vogue magazine’s top celebrity engagement rings of all time. The singer and actor thoughtfully chose aquamarines in recognition of his fiancée’s March birthday.
Because of its irresistible colour and dazzling transparency, aquamarine was widely used in ornate jewellery created in the Belle Epoque and art nouveau eras of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The popularity of the March birthstone in this golden age of jewellery gives vintage treasure hunters a wealth of opportunities.
Because it grows in large crystals, aquamarine is an extremely versatile gemstone and one which is perfect for statement jewellery. Perhaps it is unsurprising that it also features in many Art Deco pieces.
In fact, one of the largest cut gemstones of the 1930s was a 1,298-carat aquamarine, which Brazilian President Getulio Vargas gave to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. This impressive stone would seem small when compared with the Dom Pedro. Found in Brazil in the 1980s, this aquamarine is an astonishing 225,000 carats and was almost three feet long before it was cut.
Aquamarine remained popular throughout the 20th century. In 1957, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II commissioned Garrard to create an aquamarine tiara. The dazzling platinum piece is set with diamonds and aquamarines, which she had received from the Brazilian President as a coronation gift in 1957. She has worn the tiara, along with matching aquamarine necklace and earrings, on several high profile occasions.
Its cool, tranquil colour makes aquamarine a flattering gemstone that enhances any look and suits every style. This is why the stone is such a popular choice with contemporary designers.
While you can find relatively low-value aquamarine jewellery, many top designers put the traditional March birthstone centre stage in high end pieces.
Hirsh offers a beautiful range of aquamarine pieces, with most in a platinum setting and many framed with diamonds. CW Sellors has a dazzling selection of aquamarine jewellery, including engagement rings, necklaces and earrings. For unusual designs. including Art Deco-inspired pieces, try Pruden and Smith’s aquamarine collection.
As rich in symbolism as it is in colour, bloodstone (also known as heliotrope) is typically deep green, with blood-red flecks. This dramatic colour combination makes it a striking jewellery centrepiece.
While stones vary, a classic bloodstone is a mixture of opaque green jasper quartz with red inclusions of iron oxide.
With its glassy finish, a polished bloodstone makes a very fine gemstone for a ring or pendant. While it is usually described as the ‘alternative’ birthstone for March, we think it deserves its place in the calendar.
Thirteenth century philosopher, scientist and Catholic Saint Albertus Magnus, known as Albert the Great, said the stone held many magical properties, including allowing the wearer to become invisible.
In fact, people believed in the bloodstone’s powers long before the Middle Ages. References to its healing properties date back to 5,000BC.
Perhaps because of the colour of its inclusions, the gem was believed by the Romans to slow bleeding. The stone also has an important place in Christian history, with the red spots representing Christ’s blood.
This powerful stone has been associated with courage for thousands of years. Ancient Greek and Roman athletes wore it to enhance their performance. In Babylon, it was used to make seals and amulets and was worn by warriors to provide protection against enemies.
Even today, some people believe that bloodstone has the power to give strength and bravery.
While it is a relatively affordable gem, the highest-grade bloodstone is solid green with a good number of visible deep red speckles.
Bloodstones can be faceted, with emerald, oval and cushion all being popular cuts for this stone. However, most are cut with a smooth, curved top to emphasise their waxy finish and dramatic colour.
This stone is very hard, making it ideal for everyday wear. While its lustrous finish and dramatic colour works beautifully in contemporary pieces, it was a popular stone in the Victorian era. One of the few gemstones that has been mined in the UK, Scottish bloodstones were a favourite of Queen Victoria. There are many fine examples of 19th century antique jewellery featuring bloodstone, often with precious stones, set in rose gold.
A popular choice for signet rings in Victorian and Edwardian times, the bloodstone is still used for this purpose today. Iconic London jewellers Hancocks sells a stunning bloodstone signet ring, which celebrates this stone’s unique qualities.
Whether you choose the evocative aquamarine or the dramatic bloodstone, your March birthstone jewellery deserves protection. TH March provides bespoke jewellery insurance so you can wear your precious items without the worry.