Popular Gemstones: Their Colors and Meanings

From ancient times, jewels have held significance to humans. Diamonds are the symbols of eternal love, but other stones have their own legends and meanings.


For centuries, sapphires have been considered an important gemstone. The name originates from the Greek and Latin words meaning “blue”. Persian rulers and Christian leaders believed the sapphire to be a symbol of fidelity, devotion, and insight and were greatly cherished. Until the diamond gained popularity in the 20th century, the sapphire was the popular choice for engagement rings.


Known for its remarkably rich green shade, the emerald is another spectacular gemstone associated with royalty. Some sources point to Cleopatra as one of the original patrons of the verdant gem. Incas used emeralds in religious ceremonies, and the Spanish would trade emeralds for precious metals. Legends say that if you hold an emerald under the tongue, it will allow you to see the future and reveal hidden truths.


Rubies, typically a rich red, are associated with power and wealth and are considered the gems of kings. The ruby was considered a type of talisman, and when worn over the heart would allow the bearer to live a peaceful life. The ancient Burmese believed rubies benefitted soldiers and had rubies inserted under the skin for protection.


The stone of St. Valentine, the amethyst represents faithful love, and many Christian religious leaders would wear amethyst rings as a symbol of devotion. According to Greek legend, the god of wine, Bacchus, vowed to send his tigers to devour the next person he met. He encountered Amethyst, who implored the goddess Diana to save her, who turned her into a white crystal. Bacchus, in his remorse, poured wine over the crystal, turning it a rich purple.


Opal reflects light and exhibits a façade. In ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder described the opal as having the brilliant properties of the garnet, the emerald, and the amethyst, and in ancient Greece, the opal was believed to grant to power of prophecy. In Indian legends, the Goddess of Rainbows turned herself into stone to avoid the pursuits of suitors.


The garnet is the January birthstone and is a deep red color, sometimes bordering on purple. Garnets have been found in ancient burials dating from 3000 BC, and have long symbolized love. In ancient lore, the garnet relates to the pomegranate, and represents a desire for a speedy return or a return to a separated love, as Hades gave Persephone seeds of the pomegranate to ensure her return.

Gemstones are not only beautiful, light-bearing spots of color in jewelry. The next time you’re looking for jewelry in Riverview, keep in mind some of the symbolism of popular gemstones for a gift that makes a unique gift.



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