Ever wondered about the origin of gemstone names? Then read on and find out how some gemstones got their names!
The gemstone’s names are mostly derived from Greek or Latin, sometimes French, Sanskrit or Arabic words that describe a certain quality of the gem. These qualities include color, appearance, and shape. For instance, the Aquamarine gemstone is derived from the Latin words aqua and marina which together mean “water of the sea,” directly about the gemstone’s natural resemblance in color to the hue of the sea. Malachite is a gemstone named after the Greek word “mallow,” which is a green herb. Kyanite is a derivative of the Greek word kyanos, and Sapphire was named after the same language’s word sapphirus which both mean blue.
Other gemstones are named after the places where they were first found in. In the year 1967 in the Mererani Hills of Manyara Region in Northern Tanzania, a rare blue to purple gemstone was discovered. It was later given the name Tanzanite. A geologist named Campbell Bridges noticed rocks containing a unique type of garnet, the green grossularite, in Tsavo National Park. The said gemstone was named Tsavorite. The Andalusite gemstone was first sighted in Andalusia, Spain.
“Amethystus,” the derivative of the word Amethyst, is a Greek word that means not drunken or intoxicated. That is mainly the reason why the Amethyst gemstone is the perfect tool for protection against alcohol intoxication, sexual intoxication, and other types of inebriation. Diamond is the hardest material in the world, and so it is privileged to be named after the Greek word “adamus,” which means unconquerable and indestructible. The Garnet gemstone got its name from the French word “granatus” meaning grain for its resemblance to the grains or seeds of the pomegranate. The Greek word “op loss” is the root word of the Opal gemstone’s name, which means precious stones as the gemstone embodies the colors of all the gems. The Latin phrase Perla denotes the glowing white orbs similar to the moon’s that are also noticeable on the Pearl. Peridot is originated from the Arabic word “faridat,” which means gem. Topaz, on the other hand, is a name derived from the Sanskrit word “tapas” meaning fire.
A common gemstone naming method is to name it after the person who first discovered the gem. Colonel Hendrik von Prehn discovered the Prehnite while A.F. Hidden discovered the first samples of Hiddenite and Rhodolite Garner in North Carolina in the year 1879.
In a more traditional sense, some minerals are named in honor of legendary people. For example, the Alexandrite gemstone, a color changing stone dependent upon the nature of ambient lighting, was named after the Russian Tsar Alexander II. The first samples of the said gemstone were discovered in the Ural Mountains in the year 1843 on the day Alexander II came of age. Today, the Alexandrite is Russia’s national stone.
In understanding the origin of the names of our favorite gemstones, we acknowledge the value of their discovery and their relation to history, their complexity in nature, and their aesthetic value as a whole.