Heliotrope (mineral)

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Quarz - Heliotrop (Blutjaspis).JPG
A heliotrope, also known as a bloodstone.
Category Mineral
(repeating unit)
SiO2 (silicon dioxide)
Color Green with red or yellow spots
Crystal system Trigonal
Mohs scale hardness 6.5–7
Luster Vitreous
Specific gravity 2.61
Refractive index 1.53–1.54
Birefringence 0.004

The mineral aggregate heliotrope, also known as bloodstone, is a variety of jasper or chalcedony (which is a cryptocrystalline mixture of quartz). The "classic" bloodstone is green jasper (chalcedony) with red inclusions of hematite.

The red inclusions are supposed to resemble spots of blood; hence the name "bloodstone". The name "heliotrope" (from Greek ἥλιος helios, Sun, τρέπειν trepein, to turn) derives from various ancient notions about the manner in which the mineral reflects light. These are described, e.g., by Pliny the Elder (Nat. Hist. 37.165).[1]

Heliotrope was called "stone of Babylon" by Albert the Great (1193–1280)[2] and he referred to several magical properties, which were attributed to it from Late Antiquity. Pliny the Elder (1st century) mentioned first that the magicians used it as a stone of invisibility.[3] Damigeron (4th century)[4] wrote about its property to make rain, solar eclipse and its special virtue in divination and preserving health and youth.

Heliotrope features in one of Boccaccio's stories in the Decameron.

Heliotrope is sometimes used in carved signet rings and is the traditional birthstone for March.


The primary source of the stone is India. It is also found in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Australia, and the United States. There is also an outcrop of bloodstone on the Isle of Rum, in Scotland.


  1. ^ "heliotrope". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. m-w.com. 
  2. ^ Albertus Magnus, De Mineralibus, II.5. in: Opera omnia, ed. Borgnet (Paris, 1890), vol. 5, Mineralia: pp.1-116; on p. 36. Cf. Peter J. Barta, The Seal-ring of Proportion and the magic rings (2016), pp. 50-51.
  3. ^ Pliny, Naturalis Historia, xxxvii, 57. His account was copied verbatim by Isidore of Seville(c. 560-636), Etymologies, XVI,7,12. Cf. Peter J. Barta, The Seal-ring of Proportion and the magic rings (2016), p. 47.
  4. ^ Damigeron, De lapidibus (Abel) ch. II, p. 165, lines 1-19; Damigeron (Pitra) ch. XIX, vol. iii, p. 325-326. Cf. Peter J. Barta, The Seal-ring of Proportion and the magic rings (2016), pp. 48-49.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Heliotrop at Wikimedia Commons