20 Popular Gemstones and Their Meanings

meaning of gemstones

What is a Gemstone? 

A gemstone is a piece of mineral crystal that can be polished or cut. Other names for a gemstone are fine gem, jewel, and precious or semi-precious stones. These often-colorful stones are known for their aesthetic value. These stones differ in value depending on their notoriety and how rare they are. Gemstones are often used in jewelry for their beauty, history, and their unique metaphysical properties. 

What Do Different Gemstones Symbolize?

Throughout history, it is believed that the wearing of different gemstones brings about attributes such as good health, luck, and protection. Each gemstone has a recognizable beauty, and many have ties to mythologies from Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt. Just as each person is unique, each gemstone has its own distinctive history and specific meaning. Below is a list of twenty of the most popular gemstones and what makes them extraordinary!

20 Gemstones and Meanings

1. Alexandrite 

Alexandrite possesses a natural magic. This unique gemstone has the ability to change colors. Often called “Emerald by day and Ruby by night,” these gems can change color from deep blue-green hues to deep purples and reds. Alexandrite gemstones were first discovered on Prince Alexander II’s birthday, and they were subsequently named after him. Miners were searching for stunning green emeralds but when they brought these stones by the campfire, they emitted a beautiful red color. Because of the color-changing properties, Alexandrite is said to represent the balance between the physical and spiritual. This led many to believe that this distinctive gemstone can bring balance to who you are.

2. Amethyst 

Said to encourage calmness, this gemstone ranges in hues from light to dark purple. Its color has long been associated with royalty and amethyst gemstones appear in crown jewels ranging from ancient to modern times. Because of its purple color, the ancient Greeks associated this gemstone with Dionysus, the God of wine. It was believed that amethyst could prevent drunkenness. The word amethystos meant “not drunk” in ancient Greek and it is credited for giving amethyst gemstones their name. Diverse cultures associate the amethyst gemstone with courage, royalty, and peace.

3. Aquamarine 

This stone is referred to as the water of the sea and was used by sailors as a defense against ocean dangers. Apart from just protection, this stone was said to provide safe travel by boat and aid in good luck for catching fish. The name “aquamarine” comes from the Latin word for seawater. Also said to reduce stress and give peace of mind, in some stories the aquamarine gemstone was a treasure protected by mermaids.

4. Citrine 

According to ancient Chinese legend, the citrine gemstone was reserved for generous people only and it was named “The Stone of Success.” The stone’s yellow/orange color is associated with cheerfulness and lightheartedness. During the Middle Ages, this birthstone was known as “the merchant’s stone” and was believed to bring prosperity and wealth to those who wore it. For hundreds of years, citrine has been credited with the ability to remove negative energy.

5. Diamond 

Not just for bridal jewelry, the diamond is the hardest and considered the most brilliant of all gemstones. This gemstone’s name comes from the Greek word “adamas” meaning unconquerable and indestructible. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that diamonds were the tears that were cried by the gods. The diamond has evolved from representing faithfulness and purity to its modern representation as the stone of marriage and commitment. Diamonds are credited with the power to grant their owners enduring love, strength, and success. In addition, many ancient cultures believed that diamonds held such power of protection that some kings wore diamonds with their armor as they entered battle.

6. Emerald 

It is said that Cleopatra loved her emerald jewelry the best and it is easy to see why. During medieval times, people believed that you could put an emerald under your tongue and the gemstone would give you the ability to see the future. Emerald’s lush green color is said to symbolize fertility and life. In ancient Rome and Greece, the emerald was said to represent the goddess of hope and love, Venus. 

7. Garnet

Signifying trust, lifelong friendship, loyalty, and passion, this January birthstone is most commonly seen in a dark red but is also available in a variety of hues including pink, green, orange, and yellow. The garnet is so resistant that it is seen throughout history. The Egyptians referred to this gem as the symbol of life. Some ancient cultures used to place the garnet directly into wounds to activate its alleged healing powers. The name “garnet” comes from the Latin word Garanatus which means “seedlike.” This is a reference to the garnet’s likeness to the pomegranate. 

8. Lapis Lazuli 

Said to promote psychic ability, the Lapis Lazuli gemstone has been highly cherished for thousands of years. In Egypt, this gemstone was believed to help the soul find immortality. This is why it is considered treasure recovered from the tombs of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. The deep blue hue of this gemstone is believed to bring honesty, harmony, and self-awareness. 

9. Morganite 

Originally discovered in California and Madagascar in the 1900s, this peach-colored stone is said to represent innocence, joy, peace, and confidence. This gem is closely connected to the heart and can also symbolize romance. Morganite is the pink version of Beryl, which is also present in aquamarine.

10. Opal 

Opals are truly loved because each stone features such a variety of colors. They are considered otherworldly because they have also been found on Mars. According to Middle Eastern folklore, the array of colors present in the stone are said to be born from lightning. The ancient Greeks believed that opals provided them the gift of prophecy. Strangely enough, this gem was also thought to preserve the color and life of blonde hair. 

11. Pearl 

The pearl differs from all the other gemstones we have talked about thus far because though the pearl is a gem, it is not a stone. Born from freshwater or saltwater, the pearl has always been associated with the moon and water. From those associations, they began to symbolize purity and love. Pearls can take a multitude of different shapes and it takes six months to many years for a pearl to form. We have to agree with Grace Kelly when she said, “The pearl is the queen of gems and the gem of queens.”

12. Peridot 

The Egyptians referred to the peridot as the “Gem of the Sun.” A plethora of peridot gemstones can be found near volcanoes, and it is because of this that peridot is thought to represent the tears of Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes in Hawaii. There are also extremely rare types of peridots that have been found in meteorites. It is also believed that some of Cleopatra’s distinguished emeralds were in reality peridots.

13. Pink Tourmaline

Pink tourmaline is said to reduce stress, anxiety, fear, and depression. Also associated with femininity, this gem is credited with relieving stress and tension from the nervous system. Considered to be the best gemstone for emotional healing, the pink tourmaline is said to represent self-love.

14. Rose Quartz 

The stunning pink hue of the rose quartz is not the only alluring feature of this gemstone. Similar to the pink tourmaline, rose quartz is considered a healing gem. Ancient Egyptian civilizations believed that this stone could prevent aging. In modern times, this gem is said to b able to balance emotions and heal an angry heart. 

15. Ruby 

The ruby is one of the four precious gemstones that is found in many different shades of red. In the past, the glowing red color prompted the belief that a fire burned within its heart. A book written during the 1300s said “Fine ruby is the lord of all stones. It is the gem of gems and surpasses all precious stones in virtue.” Medieval Europeans believed the ruby could guarantee a successful love life, wealth, and wisdom. 

16. Sapphire 

Prized for its durability, the sapphire is one of the four precious gemstones. Considered a stone of truth, the sapphire is connected to royalty throughout history. Kings and queens used to wear sapphires to provide protection from treachery. One of the most famous sapphires of modern times was that of Princess Diana’s 18K sapphire engagement ring that was handed down to Kate Middleton. 

17. Spinel 

As an optimistic gemstone, the spinel is said to bring a joyful energy to life and help set egos aside. Often confused with the ruby and sapphire, this gemstone comes in a variety of different colors. The name spinel comes from the Greek word for spark. This idealistic stone is said to inspire its wearer to look forward to future endeavors and spark innovation in life.

18. Tanzanite 

The history of the tanzanite gemstone is relatively modern. Often called “the gemstone of a generation,” this gem is approximately 1,000 times rarer than diamonds. Because of the location of the gem, and the current rate of mining, it is said that natural tanzanite gemstones will be difficult to find within the next twenty-five years. Typically colored in blue or violent, tanzanite is said to transform negative energies into positive ones. There are some who believe that tanzanite can detoxify the negative energy in one’s body. 

19. Topaz 

Topaz comes in a multitude of colors. Blue topaz is portrayed as a gemstone with an abundance of peace and healing. It flaunts a light blue shade reminiscent of a refreshing December sky. This December birthstone represents eternal love, faithfulness, and loyalty. Orange topaz, however, is associated with fire and is said to bring confidence and good fortune. 

20. Turquoise 

Turquoise is said to bring many rewards to those who wear it. The sea-green stone was extremely important to early Native American tribes. Considering a representation of the God of Sky, this gem was said to provide a connection to the earth as well as protection. The Apache created amulets out of turquoise and used them to decorate their arrows. They believed that the stone aided in accuracy. Just as it was in ancient times, it is currently believed that turquoise gemstones provide a connection to the earth and therefore they are inherently grounding. 

Final Thoughts 

Do you believe that every gemstone is unique and has a special meaning? Do you have a specific gemstone that you consider your own personal good luck charm? Consider these attributes next time you wear your favorite gemstone jewelry and if you are in the market for a new gemstone ring, necklace or bracelet, visit Windsor Fine Jewelers in Augusta, GA or online.