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Bloodstone box
MFA# 2013.1740


Heliotrope (bloodstone)
Image credit: Ra'ike

A semiprecious stone composed of dark green Chalcedony with flecks of red Jasper or Hematite that were thought to resemble drops of blood. Bloodstones, when submerged in water, give a reddish reflection. These stones are found in Asia, the Hebrides Islands of Scotland, Ethiopia, Egypt, India, and western Europe. Bloodstones were not commonly used in ancient times although occasional cylinder seals have been found (Odgen 1982). During the Middle Ages, bloodstones were used in sculptures to represent flagellation. Bloodstones have been used as gemstones in jewelry and ornamental pieces.

Synonyms and Related Terms

heliotrope; chalcedony

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • No visible crystals
  • Fracture = conchoidal, uneven, splintery
  • Luster = waxy to vitreous
  • Streak = white
  • Fluorescence = generally inert
  • Pleochroism = absent
Composition SiO2
Mohs Hardness 6.5-7.0
Density 2.59-2.61 g/ml
Refractive index 1.53 - 1.54
Birefringence 0.004


Properties of Common Gemstones

Resources and Citations

  • Gem Identification Lab Manual, Gemological Institute of America, 2016.
  • Jack Odgen, Jewellery of the Ancient World, Rizzoli International Publications Inc., New York City, 1982
  • A.Lucas, J.R.Harris, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, Edward Arnold Publishers Ltd., London, 4th edition, 1962 Comment: used from 2200-1200 BC in Egypt
  • Wikipedia: Heliotrope (mineral) Accessed Dec 2022
  • C.W.Chesterman, K.E.Lowe, Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and Minerals, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, Comment: "bloodstone." Accessed: 2 Dec. 2004.
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998