Gemstone Meanings

by Sam

The meanings of 64 different gemstones explained, including their use as birthstones and in folklore.

Gemstones can have different meanings in different cultures. This article explains the background, both geological and folkloristically, of the 64 most important gemstones. Please use the table of contents below this introduction to go directly to the gemstone you are interested in.

Agate is a variety of Quartz with a fine grain and a bright color that can be found predominately in volcanic rocks and its name originates from the Greek river Achates. In Germany the green variety is also known under the name 'Moss Stone', as the pattern might resemble fossilized moss. But it is a pure mineral, not a fossil, and the green bands in Agate stones come from Chalcedony that is layered into the crystal itself, filling the cavity left by the surrounding stone. They are stones that grow in a mold and after the mold breaks, they are set free.

Since ancient times Agate was used to make jewelry and adornments and it comes in all variations of pattern and colors imaginable, making it a very versatile material for these purposes, even for use in stained glass, or better said, stained stone windows ;-)

Gemstone Meanings for Agate

Agate is said to have protective powers and to attracted pleasant dreams and visions. Wearing an Agate stone is said to give strength to accept the things we cannot change and to carry on, even in light of adversities.

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A stone that changes its color with the ambient light, the Alexandrite appears to be green at daylight and red by night, at candle or other artificial light. The value of the stone is measured by how it changes colors under these conditions. The most highly priced ones have an emerald green hue by daylight and a deep purple red at night. One of these 'ideal' Alexandrites can be easily more expensive than a diamond, because they are so rare.

Named after the Tsarevitch (heir to the Russian throne) Alexander who one day would become Tsar Alexander II, the great reformer and liberator of the serfs, the stone is found, until this day, predominately in the Russian Ural mountains.

Gemstone Meanings for Alexandrite

Its meaning as a gemstone is one of luck, pleasure and good fortune.

Amazonite or "Amazon stone" is a green variety of the common feldspar. The name is connected to the Amazon river in Brazil (South America) where green stones are found, but it is unclear if green feldspar really can be found there. It is a rare stone that is more commonly found in Eastern and Central Europe, North America and, as a proof for the geological, tectonic movements of prehistoric times, also in Madagascar. It is a brittle stone that fractures easily when worked with and its color originates from tiny amounts of water and lead inside its molecular structure.

Gemstone Meanings for Amazonite

Amazonite is said to balance Yin and Yang, the female and male energy in the universe. It symbolizes practicality and kindness and is a stone very apt for male artists. If it is more blue than green, it is also known as the 'Hope Stone' and is said to give strength to hopes and dreams. When used as a healing stone, it is said to help with increasing strength and achieving balanced emotions. It helps men and women alike to discover the balance of life and the male and female energy in everything.

Strictly speaking not a stone, but a fossilized resin, Amber is of yellow, golden or brown color, bluish Amber is rare, high-prized and much sought after. The clearer the Amber is, the more valuable it is also. It is an extremely light, soft material with warm to the touch and with a wooden smell when heated. Used since prehistoric times in jewelry and cult objects, as well as, dissolved, in perfume and fragrances, it often contains insects and other small fossils that have been entrapped when the sap (resin) dripped from prehistoric trees. It is less often mined and most commonly found awash on coats such as the one of the Baltic sea.

Amber has to be handled carefully as it will burn easily, the German name for it, 'Bernstein', 'Burn-Stone', bears witness to this. But the most famous example of its use was in the arts of interior decoration with the, long lost, Amber Room of Tsarskoye Selo (a royal palace near Saint Petersburg). This room was constructed beginning of the 18th century by Russian and German craftsmen and was lost at the end of the second world war. Nobody knows if, and where, it still exists. The room has been now reconstructed, but the mystery remains what happened to the original artwork. Some people say it burned, other say it was evacuated, hidden and the knowledge about its hiding place was lost in the turmoil at the end of the second world war. Others say it was sold by marauders, for a high price, to a collector and still exists in some secret location, visible only to a selected few.

Gemstone Meanings for Amber

Amber was, and is, widely used in folk and traditional medicine, especially for all kind of teeth and gum related problems, as well as for other ailments of the digestive system. It is seen as a symbol for a sunny, happy mood, a luck stone and a helper in conflicts.

Amethyst is a violet or purple quartz, that is used predominately in jewelry. The name has an interesting etymology, being composed of the Greek prefix for 'not' a- and the Greek noun methustos for 'intoxicated / drunken / poisoned', bearing so witness to the ancient belief that the Amethyst protects against poison and the negative effects of drunkenness! Romans and Greeks alike fashioned, because of this belief, drinking goblets made from this gemstone. Greek mythology claims that Dionysus, the God of wine, was enamored with a girl called Amethystos, which rejected him. She prayed to the Goddess Artemis for protection and the Goddess transformed her into a white stone statue. Deep in grief over his unfulfilled love, Dionysus poured an offering of wine over the statue, giving it so a deep purple tint.

The element that does gives a quartz this purple color, and converts it into Amethyst, is iron combined with irradiation that rearranges the iron ions in a special pattern to break the light in such a way that the material indeed appears to be purple. The most valued color for an Amethyst is called 'Deep Siberian' or 'Deep Russian' and consists mainly of primary, purple hues with a small amount of blue and red tints. The stone is found now worldwide, previously counted as a precious stone in the same class like ruby and diamond, it devalued considerably as large amounts of it were found in Brazil. Today it is considered only semi-precious due to this large offer of raw stones from Brazilian and other South American mines. Surprisingly one of the largest mines is found in Austria, making it easily accessible for the European gemstone and jewelry market.

Gemstone Meanings for Amethyst

Amethyst is the Ayurveda birthstone for February and it was often worn by soldiers as a protective stone and to keep a cool head in the heat of the battle. Amethyst is also traditionally used to fashion bishop's rings for Roman-Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Eastern Catholic bishops, symbolizing their betrothal to their Church. As already mentioned, it is also said to help against the negative effects of drunkenness. Other uses can include help with insomnia, as dream stone or against headache. On a more spiritual level it is used as a power stone, protection against witchcraft and as a help and focus point for meditation. Purple is the color of Lent and Advent in the Christian tradition and an Amethyst symbolizes therefor the typical lent virtues such as humility and piety. Folk medicine also recognizes it as a healing stone, especially used for blood disorders and problems of the respiratory tract, they are also said to purify the air of the room that are in.

The name Aquamarine comes from the latin words 'aqua' for water and 'marina' for sea, making reference to the blue color of the stone and its transparency. Chemically it is a variety of Beryl with iron ions that give it its color. Today Aquamarines are found predominately in Russia, Asia, North and South America and Africa. The deeper the blue color and the clearer the stone, the more valuable it is.

Gemstone Meanings for Aquamarine

Folk medicine uses Aquamarines to help with problems with the throat and other nearby organs as well as for all problems that have to do with water / liquid in the body. It is also a stone used in meditation ceremonies and worn as a protection stone or charm by seafarers. It is the zodiac stone for people that are born under the sign of Pisces (19th February to 20th March) and its gemstone meaning is that of meditation, calmness, peace and serenity.

Aventurine is part of the Chalcedony gemstone family, to which also (Moss) Agate, Carnelian / Cornelian, Chrysoprase / Chrysophrase, Heliotrope / Bloodstone, Mtorolite, Sunstone and Onyx belong. A Chalcedony is a silica Quartz that owes it different colors to different minerals embedded into the silica structure. The Aventurine for example has mineral inclusions that are responsible for its aventurescence (sic!) appearance. These minerals are also responsible for the different colors the stone has, chrome, for example, gives it a silver-blue or silver-green color, whilst hematite is responsible for orange and brown tones.

Depending on the amount of minerals, an Aventurine can be more or less transparent / translucent or opaque. Its name comes from the Italian words 'a ventura', meaning 'by chance' and is linguistically therefor related to the English word 'adventure' which has the same origin. It is found in India, South America and Europe and is used since ancient times for jewelry. Three varieties of Chalcedony are mentioned in the Old Testament as having adorned the breastplate of the first High Priest of Israel, Aaron: Jasper, Chrysoprase and Sardonyx, all of them closely related to the Aventurine. One thing to be careful about when handling all Chalcedony stones is that they are water soluble, even at relatively low temperatures. So, if you are wearing a ring with one of them, take it off before you do the dishes ;-)

Gemstone Meanings for Aventurine

Traditionally the Aventurine is considered a 'luck stone' and the meaning of its name 'by chance' bears nicely witness to that. Folk medicine uses it also for all sorts of eye and sight related problems and to achieve a balanced mind during everyday life.

A very soft, and easily destroyed, mineral stone of light to deep blue color, with a beautiful luster and transparent to translucent appearance. The name Azurite comes from the Persian word 'Lazhward', the name of a place where Lapis Lazuli was found, another deep blue stone. The two stones are different, but they share the same origin of their names, Lapis Lazuli is the 'stone of Lazhward', whilst 'azur' is the name given to the stone color, and used to name a different stone, the Azurite. It is found, together with Malachite, close to copper ore deposits, because it is a byproduct of the weathering and transformation of copper ore.

Together with its close relative, the Malachite, it is seen as an indicator mineral for underground copper ore deposits, where these two minerals are found, there must be copper nearby, as both are derivates of copper minerals. Azurite is exceptionally sensitive to all sorts of environmental influences and easily destroyed by heat, humidity and time. When weathering naturally, it is transformed into Malachite. Additionally Azurite will loose its color over time when exposed to direct light, to store it safely, it has to be kept in a cool, dark and humidity controlled enclosure. All this makes it less ideal for use as a gemstone in jewelry, but it was widely used as a pigment in medieval fresco paintings, especially for achieving 'azure blue' skies ;-)

Gemstone Meanings for Azurite

As for its gemstone meaning, it is considered to be a deeply spiritual stone that helps people to concentrate better and to retain information easier as well as opening up the mind for visions. In folk medicine it is used to help with detoxification and stimulation of the nervous system.

Beryl is not the name of one gemstone, but the name of a group of gemstones to which Morganite, Aquamarine, Heliodor / Golden Beryl, Emerald, Goshenite, Red Beryl / Red Emerald / Scarlet Emerald and Pezzottaite / Raspberry Beryl / Raspberyl belong. These are all silica minerals that owe their different colors and properties to the different mix of minerals in their composition. They come in a wide variety of colors, from colorless (Goshenite) to deep red (Scarlet Emerald). The name Beryl comes from the Greek word 'beryllos' which originally described a specific stone of this mineral family and was later on extended to describe all of them. Beryl deposits can be found worldwide, but especially in Northern Europe, South and North America and Africa.

Gemstone Meanings for Beryls

As they are such a wide group of minerals, there is no common denominator, when it comes to their meaning as gemstones, birthstones or their use in folk medicine. Please refer to the paragraph for each stone to learn more about the gemstone meanings for the different forms of Beryl.

Bloodstone is also known as Heliotrope is another member of the Chalcedony (Silicon Dioxide) mineral family. The classic variety is green with red inclusions of iron or Jasper, but it comes also in other color varieties, such as 'Plasma' which has yellow inclusions. Its beautiful luster which can be easily polished even further makes it a very nice gemstone for ornamental uses and jewelry. The name Heliotrope derives from the Greek word 'helios' for sun and reflects the ancient idea that sun rays got somehow caught up in this stone.

The name Bloodstone is used especially for the variety with red inclusions, that might resemble blood drops to the willing eye, and is based on an old Christian legend that says that it was formed by blood drops that fall from the cross onto the green earth and burned by the sun into stone. Heliotrope or Bloodstone can be found worldwide, but major deposits of it exist especially in India and the Americas.

Gemstone Meanings for Bloodstone / Heliotrope

In the Ayurveda tradition, it is the birthstone for people born during the month of March and in folk medicine it is used to cure and heal any blood disorders or bleeding problems. Some people wear it as a protective charm against the evil eye and to help to remove energy blockages.

Blue Lace Agate, also known under its alternative name 'Blue Chalcedony Lace' is another member of the large Chalcedony and Quartz family. For more info about Agates in general, click here to go up to the paragraph 'Agate'. Blue Lace Agate is a rare variety of the common Agate, and distinguishes itself by its translucent, pale blue color and white stripes, bands or clouds that form a characteristic pattern. Its surface is waxy and the stone can be easily polished to high gloss. It is a very resistant stone, but like all gemstones it should be protected from coming in contact with anything that could scratch it and from chemicals that could discolor it or damage it otherwise.

Its only known deposits are in Namibia (South Africa) making for a low supply on the gemstone world market. The discoverer, George Swanson from Ysterputs Farm nicknamed it 'Gem of Ecology' because the white lace-like bands and clouds reminded him of a lightly clouded and beautifully sunny sky.

Gemstone meanings for Blue Lace Agate

A peaceful, tranquil and calm stone that is said to transmit these qualities to its wearer and surroundings. It makes for a great focus point if you feel angry or distressed. In meditation practices it is used for reaching higher levels and some people claim it even helps you to communicate with angels ;-) Artists use it often as inspiration because of its beautiful and intriguing lace-like pattern. It is one of the quieter protective stones and folk medicine uses it to help with all sorts of speech and throat related problems as it is related to the element 'air'. Blue Lace Agate is not an official birthstones, but some sources say that it is a good zodiac stone for Pisces and Gemini or people born in the months of May and June.

And yet another member of the Chalcedony family ;-) found in South America and Asia. Carnelian, or Cornelian, is a red-brown, translucent gemstone with little luster. Sard is the name used for the darker variety and in both cases the color is due to the iron components embedded in the quartz. In ancient times it was a favorite for the production of cameo carvings of brooches, seals and similar. The name itself comes from the Latin word 'carnis', meaning flesh and makes reference to the color of the stone.

Gemstone Meaning for Carnelian, Cornelian and Sard

Carnelian is said to give end increase positive energy levels and to protect from negative energies. It is used in folk medicine to help with problems related to energy, like mood and appetite, and to increase strength. A good stone to wear, in the opinion of some, when you are recovering from an illness or accident.

A transparent to translucent crystal which can be colorless, white or colored in different tones, like blue, pink, green or even black, the Celestite or Celestine derives its name from the Latin word for heavenly or celestial (sic!) 'caelestis', making reference to the much sought after blue color variety. It is a brittle gemstone that has be be handled and polished with care. It can be found worldwide, but the blue variety is mostly found on the island of Madagascar.

Gemstone meaning for Celestite / Celestine

As the name indicates it is used for everything concerning spirituality, heaven and angels. It is said to have an uplifting influence and to raise awareness for things unseen. A good meditation and and inspirational stone, similar to Blue Lace Agate (see above).

A blue, blue-green or green mineral that derives from copper ore deposits. It is a brittle gemstone that needs great care when handled, polished and worked on. Its striking color and luster together with its translucence make it a much sought after gemstone. Its name comes from the Greek for gold, 'chrysos' and refers to its shine and brilliance, but not to its color. Chrysocolla is found in copper mining areas, such as Russia, South America and Cornwall, as it is a secondary product of copper ore and 'grows' in the vicinity of them, similar to Azurite (see above).

Gemstone Meanings for Chrysocolla

Used as a healing stone by the native, Indian tribes of North America, to achieve speedy recovery after an accident or illness, it is said to be especially useful for burns due to its calming properties. It is a quiet, peaceful stone that helps to lower two high levels of energy such as fevers and nervousness.

Chrysoprase

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Chrysoprase, also spelled Chrysophrase or Chysoprasus is yet another member of the Chalcedony family, a green one this time. It is a so-called cryptocrystalline, meaning that the crystals contained in it are far too small to be seen with the naked eye or even with normal strength microscopes. Therefor it is related to other gemstones, such as Agate, Carnelian and Onyx that are also cryptocrystallines. The name comes from the Greek words 'chrysos' = gold and 'prason' = leek and refer directly to its most common clor, a light, spring green with a golden touch. It can be found in Australia, Europe and the Americas.

As a side note, and not much related to Gemstone Meanings, 'Chrysoprase' is the name of a troll in Terry Pratchett's famous Discword series of fantasy novels. He is described as being the Godfather of a criminal troll family and as having well adapted to Ankh-Morporks habits and customs, such as wearing a business suit ;-) His attitude is that whilst violence is considered to be barbaric, paying others to exercise it for him is called 'business' ;-)

Gemstone Meanings for Chrysoprase

A protective stone for travels, especially over-sea travels, it is also used to recall things that have sunken into the unconscious part of our minds and memories, as well as improving mood and giving joy and hope to everyday life. Folk medicine uses it to heal wounds faster and to speed up recovery after accidents. It is also considered a protective stone for home and property.

Citrines are part of the large Quartz family (see below under 'Quartz' for more information about Quartz in general) and of pale yellow to brown color due to enclosed iron particles. It rarely occurs naturally, but when it does, it is highly priced. Unfortunately most Citrines are produced artificially, by heating Amethysts or Smoky Quartz. If Amethysts and Citrines are found naturally together, they often form a compound known as Ametrine. Brazil is one of the places where natural occurring Citrine can be found. The name derives from the Latin word 'citrina' for 'yellow' which is also the etymological root for words like 'citron'.

Gemstone Meaning for Citrine

Citrine is one of three possible, alternative birthstones for the month of November, because of its close resemblance to Topaz, the main November Birthstone. It is seen of the gemstone that is closest related to the mind and said to be able to increase its powers. It is also believed to be a money or business gemstone that attracts wealth and good fortune. Folk medicines uses it to improve low self esteem and to protect from negative forces as well as with problems of the digestive tract in general. If you remember that rich merchants often used to suffer from gout, you might see the connection between the two ;-)

Cookeite

Cookeite is a member of the family of Chlorites and rarely used as a gemstone, because of its softness and brittleness. It is so soft, that it can be easily damaged by a scratch with a fingernail. Its colors range from green over yellow and red to white and it has often a pearly luster. Named after Josiah B. Cooke, a 19th American mineralogist at Harvard University, and not after the far more famous James Cook, as often assumed, it is most commonly found in the Americas as well as in Europe.

Gemstone Meaning for Cookeite

Predominately seen as a healing stone, it is said to have calming and cooling influences and to clear energy levels in the body.

Cuprite, from Latin 'cuprum' for copper, is a soft, brittle, transparent to translucent and deep red oxide mineral, formed as a secondary product of copper ore. It has a nice metallic shine and an earthy appearance with internal reflections, but it is rarely used for jewelry or as a gemstone in general due to the fact that bigger, perfect pieces are found rarely and also because of its inherited brittleness and softness. I often is found in the neighborhood of Azurite, Chrysocolla and Malachite. Another name it is known under is 'Ruby Copper' because of its color.

First prospected in the 19th century, only the deposit in Onganja (former Southwest Africa) ever produced crystals of gemstone quality and size, unfortunately this deposit has long been exhausted and currently there are no deposits known able to produce stones of sufficient size and quality to be used as gemstones. Cuprite would be higher priced and valued than diamonds, if found in large enough sizes and high enough quality, because of its spectacular, deep red Garnet-like color.

Gemstone meanings for Cuprite

Because of its deep red color, it is said to be connected to the earth and beneficial to the female reproductive system. It is also reflective, as metals are, and therefor considered to be a great help when it comes to broadcast emotions and thoughts as well as to reflect off negative energy. Folk medicine uses it sometimes to help with problems of the renal system and to balance the female body especially. Some count it also as a supplement birthstones for Virgos, people that are born under this zodiac sign in August or September and it is considered to be one of the most 'female' gemstones in use.

Diamonds are a girl's best friend, as the saying (or singing?) goes, but Diamonds are much more than just simple, albeit expensive, gemstones. The name derives from the Greek word 'adamas' for 'unbreakable and the diamond is, without doubt, THE best known gemstone worldwide. Surprisingly it is very closely related to the common coal, as it is a form of carbon, super dense coal, so to speak. 'Born' from ancient volcanoes, Diamonds have soon acquired mythical meanings and some of them become famous because of 'curses' and blessings they are said to carry. Because a Diamond is of the highest hardness possible for a gemstone, it is often used as an industrial tool for cutting, including other diamonds, as in 'only a diamond can cut a diamond'. Diamonds come in colorless, or in tints of yellow (less valuable), red, blue, green and pink (all more valuable than yellow and often nicknamed 'fancy diamond colors') and their valuer increase exponential with their increase in weight. Diamonds were first found, and used!, in India, but today they are mined worldwide, famous places where they can be found are in South Africa, I will not bore you with more technical details, but I would like to mention a few (in)famous Diamonds before explaining their gemstone meaning.

Cullinan Diamonds

The Cullinan diamond is the largest diamond of gem quality that was ever found, it weighted over 3,000 carats, or just over 620g, and is of white color. Found 1905 in South Africa and named after the mine owner, is was presented , in its raw form, as a birthday gift to King Edward VII by the Transvaal government that had bought the stone. Close examination by experts showed a black spot and some other indication of strain in the middle of the stone, and therefor it was decided to cut it in nine pieces to obtain spotless diamonds. The largest piece was named Cullinan I, more poetically 'The Great Star of Africa', the next piece was called Cullinan II or 'The Lesser Star of Africa' and the following pieces were simply numbered through from Cullinan III to IX plus some even smaller, unnamed, fragments. Today the Cullinan Diamonds are part of the British Crown Jewels and their combined value is estimated to be more than $400 million.

Cullinan Gossips

The raw stone was send by registered mail, as a parcel, from South Africa to England whilst detectives were guarding a steamboat that carried a fake. The mind boggles thinking what would have happened if that parcel would have gone lost! Whilst this story is true, the following is most likely a myth, that the man you made the first cut and halved the original stone, Joseph Asscher from Amsterdam, is said to have 'fainted to death' upon success. Some people say that the stone found should signs of having been part of a larger stone, and that the other half of the Cullinan is still hidden in the earth and waits to be discovered.

Hope Diamond

A blue Diamond that allegedly carries a curse from India. With just over 45 carats / 9g, much smaller than the Cullinan Diamond described above, it is valued at around $225 million and on permanent exhibition in the Smithsonian (Washington, D.C.). Whilst it is known that the Hope Diamond originates from India, who found it and much of its early history is covered in myths and legends. Brought by a French merchant from India to Europe and sold to King Louis XIV, the stone was first named 'Tavernier Blue' after the merchant and then ' Le bleu de France' / 'The French Blue', the stone has been recut several times until it acquired its present form. The 'curse' is most likely a 19th century invention in order to increase interest, popularity and market value. Lost during the French revolution, the 'French Blue' resurfaced much later recut under the name 'Hope Diamond' and in the possession of the family of the same name, which later immigrated to North America. The stone changed hands frequently and was finally given, in 1958, as a donation to the Smithsonian. Send in a brown post bag, no less! Seems this is a favorite method to send Diamonds around ;-)

Hope Gossip

The 'Hope Curse' was first mentioned in late 19th century, claiming that is was the stolen eye of an Indian idol, a statue of the Goddess Sita. It is said that it has claimed the life and fortune of many of its owners, but a bit of research shows that most of them lived to a ripe age. The curators at the Smithsonian stress the fact that they have the stone in their care since more then 60 years without any unusual events to report.

Koh-i-Noor

An ancient legend connects the Koh-i-Noor Diamond (meaning 'Mountain of Light' btw) to the Diamond 'Syamantaka' that is described in 5,000 years old Sanskrit texts. It is a white Diamond of just over 105 carats / 21g weight that was mined in India and that is now part of the British Crown Jewels. First mentioned in the 14th century, it has passed hands frequently amongst the rulers of India until it was given as a 'spoil of war' to Queen Victoria in 1850. It was then set into one of the crowns of the British Crown Jewels and was last worn by the late Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth. Both India and Pakistan claim the stone for themselves and say it is unrightfully in England, i.e. stolen from the people and country it belongs to.

The answer to this, given by the British Prime Minister David Cameron in July 2010 is truly breath taking, he said literally: “If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty." in a statement regarding the possible return of the Koh-i-Noor to India. So? And? What? If there is stolen property in the British Museum that belongs to other people and countries then it should be given back, because keeping it is thievery or worse!

Koh-i-Noor Gossip

From a 14th century Indian text comes the reasoning behind the Koh-i-Noor curse: 'He who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all its misfortunes. Only God, or a woman, can wear it with impunity.' British monarchs have taken this seriously and the Koh-i-Noor was only incorporated in the crowns of queens and never of kings.

The Aurora Diamond and Butterfly of Peace Collections

Not single Diamonds, but two whole collections of them: The Aurora Butterfly of Peace is an artwork, in butterfly form, that is made up of 244, fancy-colored Diamonds collected and created by Alan Bronstein and Harry Rodman. It is meant to be an 'eternal icon of love, beauty, energy, nature, and peace. It symbolizes a spiritual connection to earth for all mankind.' The Aurora Pyramid of Hope was made by the same artists and collectors and consists of 296 natural colored Diamonds, making it the most complete display of natural occurring Diamond colors in the world.

Gemstone Meaning for Diamonds

Diamonds are the Zodiac Birthstones for Aries (21st March to 19th April), the Ayurveda Month stone for April and the symbol for a 60th anniversary. Due to its high value and extraordinary hardness it is often said to have supernatural powers and to give victory in battle. A Diamond should be best worn at the left hand and is said to help also with the truth and to disperse illusions. In medieval Italy it was called 'Pietra della Reconciliazone' and said to help with the harmony between husband and wife. I am not sure if that was the invention of a clever Italian woman that thought 'Diamonds are a girl's best friend', and I need to convince my husband to buy me some ;-) In folk medicine the Diamond is used for all 'air' related problems, be it lungs or mind.

Emeralds are green Beryls with a beautiful luster and transparency, the green color is due to inclusions of chromium or vanadium in the Beryl. Vanadium Emeralds are not considered 'true' Emeralds in many European countries, they called 'Green Beryl' there, whilst in the Americas they are also known as 'Colombian Emeralds.' Emeralds are hard, but also often brittle due to inclusions and imperfections in the structure. The word 'emerald', often used as a synonym for a certain type of green, has developed etymologically this way: izmargad = green (Hebrew) > smaragdos (Greek) > Smaragdus (Latin) > Esmaraldus (Vulgar or Medieval Latin) > Esmeraude (Old French). They can be found worldwide, but a very special variety, the 'trapiche' with its star pattern is only found in Columbia. As a side note, Ireland is known as the 'Emerald Island' because of the lush green color of its vegetation, not because of Emerald mines and in the famous book 'The Wizard of Oz', a whole city is made out of Emeralds.

Gemstone Meanings for Emerald

Emeralds are the zodiac stones for Cancer (21st June 21 to 22nd July) and secondary birthstones for May, Taurus- and Gemini-born as well as the birthday Stone for Thursday. Mentioned both in the Old Testament (Aaron's Breastplate) and New Testament (New Jerusalem) they symbolize here one of the tribes of Israel. Emeralds are also the symbol for 20th, 35th and 55th anniversaries depending on the culture celebrating them. Same people claim it is the sacred stone of Venus and that it helps to preserve and achieve love in your life. Green being the traditional color for hope, makes the Emerald very apt as symbol for spring, hope and prophecy and some people believe that its powers are strongest at the full moon in Spring. Folk medicine uses it for heart and eye problems.

Fluorite, Flourite, Blue John or Fluorspar are all names for the same colorful, but brittle, mineral. The prefix 'fluo' comes from the Latin verb 'to flow' and makes reference to its use in the metallurgical industry. Also the term 'fluorescence' originates with this mineral. It is not a very common used gemstone, due to its softness and brittleness, with one exception, the Blue John variety from England and China.

Gemstone Meanings for Fluorite

A colorful, decorative stone that is said to absorb negative energies and to give inspirations. Folk medicine uses it for kidney problems and bone ailments.

Many people think of Garnet only as a red gemstone, but actually Garnet is the name of a whole family of those and the members of said family come in many different colors ;-) Some of them are used industrial, whilst others are used as gems and ornamental stones. The word itself comes from the Middle English 'gernet' for dark red or, alternatively from the Latin 'granatus', a reference to pomegranate (sic!) seeds that resemble red Garnet. Take your linguistic pick ;-) The subgroups of Garnet are called: Pyrope, Almandine, Spessartine, Grossular, Hessonite, Tsavorite, Uvarovite and Andradite.

The rarest Garnet found is the Blue Garnet from Madagascar, which changes color, similar to the Alexandrite under day, artificial and night light. Garnets can be transparent (most valued), translucent or opaque and their luster ranges from vitreous (like glass) to resinous (like amber). They are all relatively hard stones, what makes them a good gem or ornamental stone, as they don't brittle or scratch easily.

Almandine, also known by the old-fashioned term 'carbuncle' is deep red and the most commonly used Garnet gemstone. Pyrope is also red and when transparent used as a gemstone. A sub-variety, the Rhodolite from North Carolina is more violet-purple-red. Blue Garnets from Madagascar are mix of Spessartine and Pyrope. Spessartine iself is orange-yellow, but violet-red ones are found in the neighborhood of rhyolites. Andradite can be red, yellow, brown, green or black and its sub-varieties are called Topazolite (golden-yellow or -green), Demantoid (green and very expensive!) and Melanite (black). Grossular is green, brown (Cinnamon Stone), red or yellow (Hessonite). Tsavorite is a green Grossular sub-variety from Kenya. Uvarovite is bright green in color, are rare and therefor highly priced. Other, even less common varieties are: Goldmanite, Kimzeyite, Morimotoite, Schorlomite, Hydrogrossular, Hibschite, Katoite, Knorringite, Majorite and Calderite. Garnets are used since ancient times for gemstone carvings or as an inlay in gold (cloisonné) but today they are used in more simple ways such as rings and pendants.

Gemstone meanings for Garnet

They are the zodiac stones for Aquarius (20th January 20 to 18th February) and the birthstones for January and Tuesday. The common Garnet is the state mineral / gemstone of Connecticut and New York, whilst the Star Garnet is the state gemstone of Idaho. It is said to be a wealth stone and to attract good business and to help with general popularity as well as to improve self-esteem. As a woman I must say, jewelry always improves my self-esteem ;-) Folk medicine uses Red Garnet for all problems related to the body glands and for detoxification in general. Its read color stands for love and (com)passion and some people even think of it as an aphrodisiakum.

For Beryls in general see 'Beryl', for Aquamarine (click to go up) and for Morganite – click to go down down ;-) A golden-yellow member of the Beryl family, Golden Beryl is also known as Heliodor (when a green tint is present), from the Greek word 'helios' for sun. It is a hard silicate mineral with a glassy luster and tranparent, translucent or opaque appearance. A widely found gemstone, the color comes from the inclusion of iron ions in the base mineral.

Gemstone Meanings for Golden Beryl and Heliodor

Said to be good for all kind of communication issues and used in folk medicine to alliviate throat problems.

The colorless Beryl variety is called Goshenite, named after Goshen in Massachusetts where it was first found. Rarely used as a gemstones as fairly common and inexpensive. Large, flawless examples are preferred and will be higher priced. A great stone for homemade jewelry due to its low price and abundance. The book above is a good guide to all things 'Beryl' btw. Just in case you are interested ;-)

Gemstone Meanings for Goshenite

Used by some as an 'Angel Stone' to make contact with a spiritual guide or guardian angel.

Hematite, also called 'Blood Ore', 'Hæmatite' or 'Haematite' is one of my absolute favorite gemstones when it comes to collecting them. Not sure if it is because of the metallic gray or reddish color or the nice touch and feel they have to them. Chemically it is an oxide mineral of middle hardness and some brittleness, made up mostly of iron (FE) and it comes from nearly black to red shades, all of them opaque. When I touch it, it feels like warm steel in my hands ;-) It is either found near water or hot springs (think Yellowstone National Park) or were volcanic activity has occurred in the past. The word comes from the Greek 'h-(silent)aima' and gave it so the name of 'Blutstein' in German, but it should not be confused with Bloodstone! Hematite has been used since prehistoric times for stone carvings and to create religious statues and it is still a favorite gemstone in Noth America and Europe. It can be found near iron ores, as an indicator mineral, and even far away from earth, on the planet Mars (Terra Meridiani and Aram Chaos). On earth it is found worldwide, with considerable deposits in South and North America, China and northern Europe.

Gemstone Meanings for Hematite

Said to improve relationships, when worn as a ring on the left hand, and as a protective stone in battle (not necessarily relationship battles ;-)). It is also said to improve intuitive abilities in some people. Folk medicine uses it to combat bleeding disorders and to increase iron absorption into the body.

Is a name for a double-ended Quartz crystal, but it is by no means a real diamond! First discovered in Herkimer county in the state of New York it derives its name from this location. It is therefor also known as the 'Little Falls Diamond' or 'Middleville Diamond' after place names in the same county. They are well renown for their exceptional clarity and naturally occurring facets. Whilst clear ones are the most sought after, the Herkimer Diamond comes also in 'cloudy', 'smoky' and 'with inclusions' varieties. The later can be either simple impurities, other crystal or even water.

Gemstone Meanings for Herkimer Diamond

Being a new discovery means that the Herkimer Diamond has no 'tradtional' meanings, but some newer esoteric branches say that he has hidden powers and can be used for out of body experiences and communications.

A colorless or white soft mineral stone, the Howlite was only discovered middle of the 19th century in California. It is a translucent or opaque gemstone with limited luster. Whilst the stone itself is either white or colorless, its veins can be any shade of gray up to black and form a web-like pattern. Easy to work with, it most commonly used for bead making or stone carvings, but because it is so soft, it also scratches easily, making it less ideal for jewelry. Howlite can be easily dyed because it is porous, all 'colorful' Howlites are created that way, they don't occur naturally.

Gemstone Meanings for Howlite

Said to be calming for the nerves, the Howlite is often used as a meditation help and against insomnia and some healers claim it helps with bone and teeth related problems also.

Jasper is another member of the huge Chalcedony family and comes in all shades of red, yellow, brown, green and blue depending on the other minerals present. It is an opaque mineral that is used for ornamental carvings and as a gemstone in jewelry. A very special variety of banded jasper is called 'Picture or Landscape Jasper' because the bands seem to simulate a desert landscape with waves and dunes when cut the right way. If small cracks have been filled, over time, with other minerals, Jasper looks often like it would contain fossilized plants and the like. Other types are 'Leopard Skin Jasper' with a pattern that resembles, you guess it, the fur pattern of a leopard or are simply meant after their predominant color and / or the place they were found. The term Jasper means spotted or speckled stone and comes originally from the Persian root 'yasp'. It is an ancient stone that has been used since prehistoric times for small, religious statues, ornamental utensils, carvings and tools, as well as a gemstone. It is a smooth stone, that can be polished to high luster and was one of the twelve stones on Aaron's breastplate, as described in the Old Testament.

Gemstone Meanings for Jasper

It is said to be a protection stone and to be used in rituals of the shamanic traditions. It is often found in medicine bags of the North American Indians to help with the connection to a totem or animal spirit. In folk medicine it is said to help and speed up a healing process, especially of stomach ulcers.

Kunzite is a rare, pink to purple colored, gemstone that belongs to the silica mineral family of Spodumene, these stones are hardish, but brittle and can be found in large crystals. Kunzites exhibit a behavior known as pleochroism, meaning they appear to have different colors at different view angles when observed under a special, polarizing microscope. Some stones will fade over time when kept in bright sunlight, but heating them gently can also enhance, or even restore, their colors. Discovered beginning of the 20th century and named after G.F. Kunz, a famous jeweler at Tiffany's, they can be found in the Americas, Australia and parts of Asia. A rare sub-variety is the Hiddenite, which is of emerald-green color.

Gemstone Meanings for Kunzite

Said to be a symbol of purity because of its gentle colors, the Kunzite is used by some to help with connection to spirit guides and to receive blessings from them. Folk medicine uses them to relive tensions and to achieve a balanced state of mind and inner peace.

The name Kyanite comes from the Greek word 'kyanos', describing a deep-blue color, but some Kyanites can be also white, green or all shades of gray. A brittle, flaky mineral of medium hardness with a glassy to pearly luster and of transparent to translucent appearance that is rarely used as a gemstone, due to its anisotropism (it reacts differently sensitive when pressure comes from different directions, for example). Kyanite is also known under the names of Disthene, Rhaeticite or Cyanite.

Gemstone Meaning for Kyanite

Said to clean the air of the room where it is in from negative energies and to balance the energy flow in the body of living beings, also used as a meditation stone.

Lapis Lazuli is another one of my favorite gemstones, because of its gorgeous deep blue color and its nice, sparkling golden accents. Technically it is a rock and made up from a variety of minerals like Pyrite (responsible for the golden 'sparkle) and Lazurite (responsible for the color). It is a middle hard stone, easy to polish and reasonable resistant to scratches. 'Lapis' is the Lation word for stone and 'Lazuli' is derived from the Persian word 'Lazhward', so, Lapis Lazuli means 'Stone from Lazhward'. The word 'azure' that describes the deep blue color of this stone has found its way into many languages and is ultimately used to name another stone of the same color, the Azurite. Lapis Lazuli is used since prehistoric times for ornamental carvings, mosaics, wall coverings and as a gemstone and the oldest mines are in the Asian part of Russia and Afghanistan. Today it is also found in Asia, South and North America and Africa. In ancient Egypt it was used to carve scarabs, protective stones or amulets in beetle form that protected graves, houses or were given as a gift.

Gemstone Meanings for Lapis Lazuli

Nowadays people still use it as a protective stone, despite the fact that the old Egyptian religion is long dead or as a meditation help to clear the mind. Folk medicine claims it has purifying powers and can remove blockages.

Lepidolite is a is a soft, brittle, colorless to purple silicate mineral that belongs to the Mica family. 'Mica' is a group of silicate minerals that are layered in sheets and they are often very brittle and 'flaky'. The word 'mica' comes from the Latin word for crumb and makes allusion to the brittleness of the members of this mineral group. Lepidolite is therefor rarely used as a gemstone, despite its transparency or translucence together with its nice glassy or pearly luster. Lepidolite can be found in the Americas as well as in Europe and Asia.

Gemstone Meaning for Lepidolite

Seen by some, because of its color?, as a Peace Stone it is said to help with tensions, both spiritual as well as muscular ones.

Malachite

Malachite minerals come in all variations of green, from light yellow-green to dark or even black-green, the colors are nearly always banded, making for intriguing pattern. It is a soft to middle-hard, transparent to opaque mineral that can be easily polished and then has a luster of a glassy or silky quality. The green color is due to copper inclusions in the carbonate mineral and the name comes from the Greek word for 'mallow-green', 'malache', because it resembles the green of the Mallow plants. Similar to Amber (see above) it was used in old Russia to decorate a royal room, the 'Malachite Room' in the tzar's winter palace in St.Petersburg which had columns, fireplaces and many more decorative elements made from, or covered with, Malachite. Apart of ornamental uses in interior design, Malachite was, and is, also used as a gemstone and for stone carvings. The stone is found close to copper deposits (see also Azurite), especially in Russia, Africa, the Americas, Australia and Europe. One of the oldest mines is located in Israel and nick named 'King Solomon's' mine, there is archeological evidence that Malachite has been mind there since more then 3,000 years.

Gemstone meanings for Malachite

Deemed to be a protective stone, Malachite was and is often worn as a pendant or bracelet to fight off all kind of negative influences and events. Some believe it protects especially well children and against witchcraft. Others use it as a travel stone, to protect during travels and to facilitate business success. Some say also that Malachite works like a 'mirror', reflecting off what you feel at the moment. That could be beneficial if you feel loving and caring, but less beneficial if you feel angry and negative.

Moldavite

Moldavite, named after the Czech river Vltavin (Moldau in German) and found especially in Bohemia (a Czech region) and, to a lesser extend in Moravia (another Czech region) is a bottle-green stone with limited, glassy, luster that is thought to have been formed at sites of meteorite impacts. It can be cut, polished and then used as an ornamental or gemstone. It is a rare, semi-precious stone, with a total amount of less than 300t present worldwide and experts fear that the reserves will be exhausted in less then 10 years. Perhaps a good stone for speculators? Moldavites come in two main types, the higher valued one has a fern-like pattern and is more translucent, the inferior one darker, more uniform and more opaque. The first one is also a favorite amongst jewelry designers of the more independent kind.

Gemstone Meanings for Moldavite

Said to help with all spirit related tasks, New Age adherents use it to overcome blockages and to improve the mind's capabilities as well as to enhance dreams and visions as well as making contact to intelligent life forms on other planets, obviously ;-)

Moonstone

Part of the humble Feldspar family, the Moonstone distinguishes itself from other memebers of the same family with colors that can range from white to gray, pink, green or brown, but the most valued ones are of a deep blue color. It is a middle-hard stone, that takes its name from the distinctive sheen and luster it has when light falls on it in a certain angle, the stone surface appers then to be pearly or nearly opalescent. Moonstone can befound in Australia, Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Gemstone Meanings for Moonstone

Some say it is the love stone 'par excellence', that will warranty that your lover will pick the moon and star from the sky for you ;-) Moonstone is also said to be the most effective at full moon (sic!) and to bring wealth and good fortune to the bearer. Others claim it to be a prophecy stone and to help with inspirations and visions and to be a protection stone for travelers. Used in meditation it is said to help to understand oneself and you can recharge it by letting the waxing moonlight shine on it. It is claimed to be a 'female' stone, and traditionally used in Goddess magic. Folk medicine uses it therefor for problems with the female reproductive system and the glands in general.

Morganite

Morganite, alternative names: 'Pink Beryl', 'Rose Beryl', 'Pink Emerald' or 'Cesian Beryl' belongs to the large Beryl (see above) family. Its color ranges from light pink to deep red and is quite rare. Sub-varieties can be of yellow or orange color and some even show some banding patterns. The red hue is due to the presence of Maganese ions in the base mineral. The stone was named after the North American financier J. P. Morgan and the highest priced varieties are the pink colored, transparent ones. Found first on the African island Madagascar beginning of the 20th century, it can be also found in North America.

Gemstone Meanings for Morganite

Said to be the stone of divine love and to open the heart of the bearer as well as to attract love and to respond to it. A good stone for married couples, as it is said to maintain love alive and healthy, but also to make a connection to the angelic realm. Folk medicine uses it to relive stress and tensions as well as to help with asthma and heart problems.

Moss Agate

Moss Agate (see also Agate above), also nick-named Mocha Stone, is a member of the large family of Agates. It has green mineral inclusions embedded into the base Chalcedony mineral that give the impression of fossilized, realistic looking, moss, but it is a pure mineral, no fossils involved. The blue variety doesn't look like moss, but more like blue cheese, such as Roquefort or Gorgonzola btw. The base mineral, Chalcedony, is either clear or opaque white and the veins and pattern can be of different width. This Agate is found in North America.

Gemstone Meanings for Moss Agate

Said to be the most powerful of all Agate stones and to help in battles, physical as well as spiritual ones and to balance emotions as well as helping to keep a balanced mind. Folk medicine uses it to strengthen the weak ones and to lower the impact of allergens. Medieval midwives and wise women used it during child delivery and to help with speedy recovery after the birth. Modern, alternative, uses include the care of house plants and to aid with earth-centered meditations.

Obsidian

Another gemstone that is not, strictly speaking, a stone or mineral, but, in this case, a volcanic glass that is translucent and comes in all shades of gray, black, green, red, yellow and even pink with a beautiful glossy luster. Formed when lava flows over the surface after a volcanic eruption and cools down so quickly that crystals don't have time to develop, obsidian is found exclusively in areas where volcanoes are, or have been, active. Its splitters and edges are so sharp that they have been used as weapons and for surgical blades, but today Obsidian is mostly used as a gemstone. One variety, the Snowflake Obsidian, has small cristobalite crystal clusters (try to say this quickly seven times in a row ;-)) that give the impression of inclosed snowflakes. Other color varieties are formed by the inclusion of gas bubbles that didn't had time to escape the lava before it cooled down (Sheen Obsidian or Rainbow Obsidian). Obsidian's color is influenced also by the way it is cut as a gemstone, influencing the way how the light breaks subsequently, making it a very versatile material for jewelry and other ornamental purposes.

Gemstone Meanings for different kinds of Obsidian

A Snowflake Obsidian is a symbol of purity and helps to balance the light and dark aspects of life. It is said to have a calming influence on the wearer and some people even use it as a replacement for a crystal ball to see events that take place in another location (if you believe in scrying, that's it) Snowflake Obsidian is used in folk medicine for all sorts of muscular ailments and even said to help with detoxification, when placed in the liver or kidney region of a body.

Black Obsidian is the symbol stone, at least for some, for the ex-planet Pluto, named after the Greek God Hades (Pluto in Latin) the keeper of the gates of the mythical underworld. It is said to help discover hidden treasures and meanings, to give strength and to help those with depressions. It is considered a powerful, protective stone that shields against all kinds of negativity.

Rainbow Obsidian is used in meditations in order to dissolve obstacles and barriers and to expand ones consciousness.

Onyx

Used since ancient times for a stone carving technique called 'cameo' the Onyx is a banded form of quartz. The banded form of red Agate (see above) is called Sardonyx btw. Onyx can have a wide range of colors, from white over brown to black, only purple and blue shades are unknown until today. Onyx is a relatively hard gemstone that can be polished to high gloss. The name itself derives from the Latin word for fingernail, making reference to the resemblance of flesh colored Onyx with a fingernail. As mentioned before, Onyx has been used since ancient times for stone carvings, ornamental items and as a gemstone. In cameo carvings the onyx is used in such a way that one band serves as the motive and another band as the background, often with white as the motif and brown or black as the background. Onyx is mentioned in the bible several times over, in Genesis 2 as a sign for the richness of the land, as a stone on Aaron's breastplate and as one of the stones that make up the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation.

Gemstone Meanings for Onyx

Banded Onyx is said to be a stone of discernment and one that helps to overcome negative emotions. It is used as a protection stone by some and others even claim that it helps the bearer to become invisible!

Opal

Another one of my favorite gemstones ;-) Opal is a soft to middle-hard, transparent to opaque mineral of glassy to waxy luster that comes in all base colors from white to black with many colorful inclusions and accents. Many Opals will show fluorescence under certain lights. The names comes via a Sanskrit and Greek root that simply means 'stone'. Opals are relatively rich in water, up to 20%, therefor they should be stored carefully under controlled conditions, when not worn.

As Opals in high quality and quantity are found in Australia, it is not surprising that it is this nation's gemstone. The quality, and price of an Opal is judged by the color combinations observed in the stone and the distribution of the color clusters in the base mineral. The stone colors vary with the view angle and the angle of the light that falls on them. This play of colors makes the Opal one of the most interesting gemstones, for jewelry as well as for other uses.

White opals are gentler and show a less pronounced play of colors, whilst black Opals can have often a quite dramatic one. Fire Opals are of yellow, orange, red or warm brown base color, if they show a play of color when moved, they often do this in form of green flashes. Fire Opals are predominately found in Mexico. Blue Opal is mostly found in Peru and of blue-green color without any play of color. Nearly all Opals are found today in Australia, most of them are of the light colored variety and black and boulder Opals (Opal that has formed in ironstone) are the rarest and most highly priced. Other, minor, mines can be found in the Americas, the Czech Republic and other parts of Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. Opal has been also found on Mars, making it one of the few gemstones that can be found on other planets of our solar system.

Gemstone Meanings for Opal

Said to be a luck stone it has been used since ancient times to attract good business. Contrary to this, many Russians believed it to be a stone of bad luck. Opal is the birthstone for October or the Zodiac stone for Libra in some traditions. Folk medicine uses Opals to increase energy levels in the body and to awaken and maintain passion in life.

Peacock Ore

Peacock Ore is also known under the more scientific name of Bornite, a mineral of red, brown or purple color. It is a soft, brittle stone, making it less apt for use as a gemstone, despite that its nice, metallic luster. The nick name Peacock Ore comes from the iridescence effect shown in many Bornites, which can be found worldwide, another name it is known under is Chalcopyrite.

Gemstone Meanings for Peacock Ore (Bornite, Chalcopyrite)

As the stone becomes magnetic when heated, it is seen as beneficial for work with all kind of energies and to increase perception.

Pearl

Not a gemstone as such, but a soft mineral of white, pink, silver, cream, golden, green, blue or black color that is formed by mollusks, the only 'gemstone' that is produced by a living being!

A pearl forms when a foreign body enters a mollusk, like a pearl oyster, and is trapped in it. The word Pearl derives from the Latin 'perla' and the Hebrew word 'margareetare', which is the etymological origin for the female, first name Margaret. A Pearl is formed when a shelled mollusk, such as a pearl oyster, traps a foreign body (which is irritating, think sand grain in eye) in its mantle fold, the body part that is closest to the hard shell of the mussel or oyster. To get rid of the irritation, the mussel or oyster will start to cover it with nacre (mother of pearl, the same substance that outlines the insides of the shell). Depending on the location of the foreign body and the type of mollusk, the resulting pearl can vary greatly in look and value.

The highest priced ones are wild pearls that occur naturally, without human help. Thousands of mollusks need to be killed to harvest a single pearl. This is not only cost counter productive, but also damaging to the environment, as whole oyster and mussel banks can be destroyed that way. Unless it is an antique pearl, I would never buy a wild pearl, in order to not to support this crime on nature.

Mollusks grow slowly and it takes years for them to reach maturity, killing them just like this impacts the water life considerably as they are important filter organisms that keep the water clean. Today pearls can be cultured in so called pearl farms, they are raised from wild stock, kept in secluded bays and farms and the foreign body is inserted by hand into them. This way a far higher percentage of pearls can be obtained and less organisms have to be killed.

Pearls come in two editions, so to speak, fresh and saltwater pearls. Saltwater pearls are mainly formed by pearl oysters whilst freshwater pearls are formed in river mussels, the later are considered less valuable.

Whilst, in theory, all mollusks are able to form pearls, only a few varieties will produce pearls of gem quality. Pearls come in different shapes, from perfectly round (highly priced) to completely irregular, the so-called baroque pearls. Pearls have been used since ancient times, both in jewelry as well as an adornment for clothes and here especially for bridal dresses.

The value of a Pearl depends on its shape, color, size and luster, with size being the perhaps least important one. But to form a decent sized Pearl, the mollusk has to 'work on it' for several years, this explains the high price asked for larger Pearls.

Pearls are named after their place of origin, if they are farmed or not and their color. Some types of Pearls are: Akoya (a farmed saltwater pearl from Japan), South Sea Pearls (from Australia), Black Tahiti and Chinese Cultured Pearls.

Just as a side note, whilst many people use mm diameter to classify Pearls in size, the correct measurements are actually called 'momme' and 'kan'. These have their origin in Japan and 1000 momme make up one kan. A kan is 3.75kg in metric measure and therefor a momme is 3.75g.

Pearls in Religious Contexts

Many religious works use the term Pearl to describe something of rarity and high value. Hinduism speaks of Sacred Nine Pearls of Wisdom and Lord Vishnu is said to wear a Pearl on his chest.

Jesus used the Pearl as a metaphor when he said: “... the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." Same also in the following text: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you." The book of Revelation states that the gates of the New Jerusalem will be made of one single Pearl each: “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every gate was of one pearl ...” This is the origin of the nick name 'Pearly Gates' for heaven's gates.

Also the Qur'an uses Pearls to describe the afterlife and all things precious when saying in sure 35 “Gardens of Eternity will they enter: therein will they be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls; and their garments there will be of silk.” And last, but not least Pearl is also a popular girl's name, meaning 'precious'.

Gemstone Meaning for Pearls

Indian Ayurveda medicne uses Pearls for digestive and mental problems. Whilst other folk medicines see it as a symbol for purity and innocence, claiming it to be a remedy for all kind of childhood problems. The Pearl is birthstone for June and the birthday Stone for Monday.

Peridot

A yellow to green mineral of middle hardness, with a glassy luster. The green depends on the amount of iron contained in the stone, the most valuable ones are those of olive-green color. It is found in places where volcanic activity has occurred in the past and whilst it is a common mineral, stones of gem quality and decent size are rare. It can be found in the Americas, Australia, Asia, Africa and Europe, but also in some meteorites that have hit the earth. Like other gemstones it is used since thousands of years as a gemstone and to adorn vestments.

Gemstone Meanings for Peridot

It is the zodiac Stone for Libra (23rd September to 22nd October) and some say it is a love Stone. Folk medicine uses it to calm nervous, high spirited people and to help with liver and gall problems.

Petrified Wood

The Greek word 'petro' means rock or stone, hence Peter / Petrus was the stone Jesus build his Church on. But I digress, Petrified Wood is nothing else than wood that has been turned to stone over time. This happens when prehistoric vegetation decomposed slowly and without oxygen (think bottom of the sea or under clay sediments), and, under certain conditions, was replaced by minerals, a process that is known by the technical term of permineralization. During this process the original plant material is completely replaced by different minerals like Quartz and Silicate, imitating the original look and structure of the plant in stone. A perfect 3D model of the prehistoric plant. The color of the resulting Petrified Wood depends on the mineral that replaced the organic matter. Some examples are given below:

  • Black: Carbon
  • Green / Blue: Cobalt, Chromium
  • Copper Yellow to Brown: Iron
  • Orange, Pink or Red: Manganese

Whole forests of it can be found worldwide, the, perhaps, most famous example being “Petrified Forest National Park” in Arizona.

Gemstone Meanings for Petrified Wood

Said to help to remove and overcome obstacles, Petrified Wood is used in folk medicine to alleviate joint and back problems.

Pezzottaite / Raspberry Beryl / Raspberyl

A mineral that goes by many names, all of them referring to the bright color it has. Available in shades of red, orange or pink ;-) A hard mineral with a gorgeous, glassy luster that has been only discovered, and acknowledged, very recently, a real 21th century gemstone. Despite the name,it is not a Beryl (see above), but a gemstone in its own right, it has been mined first on the island of Madagascar. Rare to be found in large sizes, it makes, when without impurities, for a truly precious gemstone. Unfortunately it is also brittle, making it somehow hard to work with.

Gemstone Meanings for Pezzottaite

As it is such a new gemstone, no gemstone meanings have been discovered yet for it. But based on its pink color, some people believe that it could make a great love or passion Stone.

Picasso Marble

A soft mineral found in the state of Utah in the USA, with a dramatic blend of white, gray, black and brown bands that seems to form surreal landscapes, when cut the right way. Similar to Landscape or Picture Agate (see above under 'Agate'). Named, pretty obviously, after the cubist and surreal painter and artist Pablo Picasso. I personally think, he would have been delighted having such a beautiful stone named after him ;-)

Gemstone Meanings for Picasso Marble

Some say it is a dream stone that helps to remember dreams the next day, whilst others say that it gives clarity to the inner eye or that it can serve as a meditation stone. Folk medicine claims that it helps against viral infections and helps to regain strength after severe illnesses or accidents.

Prehnite

A brittle, transparent to translucent, semi-hard silicate mineral forms this gemstone of white, gray to yellow-green color with glassy to pearly luster. As an exception to this rule, a orange Prehnite was found in South Africa beginning of the 21st century. The mineral was named after Colonel Von Prehn, a Dutch 18th century military leader at Cape Hope and it can be found in South Africa as well as in Germany.

Gemstone Meanings for Prehnite

Despite its military naming, Prehnite is considered by some a love stone and one that opens the paths to spiritual realms. Folk medicine might use it to strengthen the heart and recognition of the truth, as well as a meditation stone. They also say that it helps to find the cause of an illness or ailment as well as for general help with problems with 'the waterworks' and the upper thorax.

Quartz

A large family of gemstones, of colorless to black, with all colors of the spectrum in between, of brittle consistence, glassy to waxy luster and ranging from transparent to opaque appearance. Quartz is one of the most common minerals found, but only some of them are used as gemstones, both as jewelry as well as for ornamental carvings.

The word 'Quartz' comes ultimately from the Slavic root word tvard.../tward... for 'hard'. Quartz crystals form in empty spaces of surrounding matrix material, often in form of geodes (spheres) and they often form also so-called 'beds' with a lot of different crystals 'growing' simultaneously.

The different forms of Quartz are distinguished by their color, which in turn depends on the other minerals present in it. Varieties that have their own chapter here in this article (just click the names to go there automatically) are: Amethyst, Citrine, Agate, Sard, Onyx, Carnelian, Heliotrope and Jasper.

Rock Quartz

Rock Quartz is considered the purest quartz and normally transparent to translucent, mostly used for ornamental carvings and uses.

Rose or Pink Quartz

Of pale rose, pink or vivid rose red color, which is due to titanium, iron, phosphate, aluminum or manganese impurities in the base mineral. Some Rose Quartz crystals also display a star shape inside the crystal, similar, for example, to the much more valuable Star Sapphires. Rose or Pink Quartz is photosensitive, meaning the stone's color can fade when exposed to bright light over a long time. Found in the Americas, Rose or Pink Quartz is often too 'cloudy' to be used in jewelry, but it is a often used material for stone carvings, such as small, ornamental vases or Valentine's Day hearts.

Smoky Quartz

Similar to Rock Quartz, but of gray, brown or even black color, this crystal is transparent to opaque, depending on its color and thickness. Also rarely used as a gemstone, it is more a collectors stone.

Milk or Milky Quartz

The white color is due to impurities such as tiny bubbles of gas and / or liquids. Whilst some people do include them in their gemstone collections, they are rarely used in jewelry.

Prasiolite is an olive-green colored Quartz that is rarely found in nature, but can be reproduced by heat-treating other Quartz crystals.

Gemstone Meanings for Quartz

In general best known for its use as the 'Crystal Ball' for fortune telling, Quartz is known since time unmeasured as 'maban' to the Aboriginals of Australia, they consider this mineral as being magical and as a source of power for their shamans, men and women alike.

In the old world it was often found in prehistoric, celtic, tombs, added there, to warranty a safe passage to the Otherworld. The Irish druid considered it to be a sunstone, bringing the deceased to their new home, where the sun rises in the next life.

On a more profane level, it has also been used to fashion stone (ritual) tools. The Roman nature philosopher Pliny the Elder (23-79 of our time) thought it to be a sort of crystallized and permanently frozen ice. The Greek word for 'ice' is 'krystallos' and makes allusion to this belief.

Based on all this, many adherents of folk medicine believe it to have cooling properties for all sorts of fevers and the like. For more specific gemstone meanings of the different Quartz sub-varieties, see the separate paragraphs on them below and above.

Red Beryl / Red Emerald / Scarlet Emerald / Bixbite

This red variety of Beryl comes under a multitude of names, but the old term 'Bixbite' is no longer in use, because it lead to confusions with 'Bixbyite', a completely different stone. A relative new member of the mineral and gemstone family, it was first discovered beginning of the 20th century and its red color is thought to be due to Manganese inclusions. It is rare, semi-precious gemstone that is only found in parts of the United States (Utah and New Mexico). Prices for top quality Red Beryl can soar as high as $10,000 / carat / 0.2g for a finished stone.

Gemstone Meaning for Red Beryl

Said to be yet another love stone in the large Beryl family, it is also said to help the bearer to connect to the source of universal love and to connect to the angelic realms, especially the guardian angels. It increases self-esteem in persons lacking it and folk medicine claims that it relieves stress and helps with heart related problems.

Rhodochrosite

A mineral gemstone that comes in all shades of pink and red, but also in white to gray and yellow to brown. The later ones are less sought after for use as gemstones. It is a soft and brittle stone that can be easily polished to glassy luster and when it is found in its pure form, it is of transparent to translucent appearance. The color cast is due to Manganese, but impurities can change the color to less attractive hues. The name comes from the Greek word for rose-colored, 'rhodochros'.

Found worldwide, but especially in Europe (Romania), South America (Argentina) and the USA (Colorado, it is also the state mineral of Colorado) and used as a jewelry stone and / or for ornamental carvings, its brittleness makes it different to cut, therefor it is mostly tumbled and polished, but not cut in facets.

As a historic side note, the Incas of South America believed it to be the petrified blood of their late rulers, and this belief is the base for its nick name 'Rosa del Inca' or 'Inca Rose'. Rhodochrosite is an indicator mineral for silver deposits and therefor can be often found close to silver ores.

Gemstone Meanings for Rhodochrosite

Said to be an energy stone, Rhodochrosite is said to increase love and compassion and emphatic abilities. Folk medicine uses it for problems with the heart and circulation system as well as for improving kidney function. Some also claim that it is good for the function of the reproductive system of men and women alike.

Rhodonite

A close relative to Rhodochrosite (see above), with a similar color spectrum from gray to yellow / brown to pink / red, but significantly harder. It is of transparent to translucent appearance and can be polished to a glassy or pearly luster. Like Rhodochrosite, the pink hues are due to Manganese and also the etymology of the name is similar, from the Greek root 'rhodos' for rose-colored. Rhodonite tends to suffer quite often from surface oxidation which can give it a dirty-brown look, if not cared for properly.

Two sub-varieties exist where other materials outweigh the color effect of the Manganese: Bustamite which gets its gray-brown color from a high content of Calcium Oxide and Fowlerite, which is of darker pink or red than Rhodonite, and which gets it from its color from its Zinc Oxide content. Used as both, a gemstone and for ornamental carvings, Rhodonite is found in Sweden and North America. It is also the official gemstone for Massachusetts.

Gemstone Meanings for Rhodonite

Said to be a balance stone, Rhodonite is used to calm nervousness and provide relaxation to the bearer. Folk medicine uses it in similar ways, especially in stressful situations, to calm the patient down during treatment.

Rock and Rose Crystal

For mineralogical information about Rock and Rose Quartz see above under 'Quartz'.

Gemstone Meanings for Rock Crystal

The mineral crystal balls are made of ;-) used for scrying and fortune telling since ages, Rock Crystal is also said to purify the atmosphere in a house or home and to increase harmony therein. Folk medicine uses it for revitalization and healing.

Gemstone Meaning for Rose Quartz

Another love stone, and some even say it improves the skin and look of the wearer ;-) Others say that it helps people with low self-esteem and folk medicine claims that it helps with skin problems like acne.

Ruby

A precious, transparent mineral, Rubies are of red, pink or nearly purple color and very hard, making it possible, with the right tools, to facet them and polish them to a vitreous luster.

Rubies that are not red are called Sapphires and the common, overall family name for all these precious stones is Corundum. The red color of rubies is due to the presence of Chromium in the mineral.

The ruby is one of the four (only!) gemstones that is considered precious, and not only semi-precious, the other three are: Sapphire (its close relative), Emerald and Diamond (see above for more information about both). The name Ruby derives from the Latin word 'rubens' for red. Rubies are valued by their color fist and then by their transparency and size.

The most valuable ones are called Pigeon Blood Ruby. Another aspect that adds value to a Ruby is called 'asterism' the appearance of a star shape in the gem body. Rubies can be found in Myanmar (former Burma), in other parts of Asia, Africa, and in North America.

Gemstone Meaning for Ruby

The Ruby is mentioned in the Bible as one of the gemstones on Aaron's breastplate. It is the zodiac stone for Capricorn (22nd December to 19th January) as well as the birth month stone for July (at least in some traditions) and the birthday stone for Sunday.

Said to be the most powerful love stone of all, it is also said to give peace and contentment and to defend against negative influences. Folk medicine attributes healing power to it for everything that has to do with blood, circulation and heart. Some people say that, as a ring, it should be worn only at the left hand, because that one is closer to the heart.

Sapphire

The non-red variety of the Ruby is called Sapphire. It belongs to the same family of Corundum minerals and owes its blue color to a different mix of minerals such as iron or titanium.

The name Sapphire comes from the Greek word for 'blue stone', 'sappheiros', but they can have all colors, except red, but blue ones are the most sought after. Hardness and luster are the same as for the Ruby (see above).

A special sub-variety is the Padparadscha which is a pink-orange Sapphire and not a Ruby, this very rare gemstone can be more valuable than a blue Sapphire, depending on size, clarity and color. Sapphire is one of the four precious stones and mostly used in jewelry, it is found since ancient times in places like Australia, Asia, Africa and North America, but so far the largest and most valuable ones, have been found on Sri Lanka (former Ceylon).

Sapphires, like other gemstones, can display 'asterism' and are then called 'Star Sapphires' and often of considerable value, especially if the star shape is well defined and easily visible. Non-blue nor red Corundum minerals are called 'Fancy Color Sapphires' and come in shades of pink, orange, brown, yellow, green and even colorless (completely transparent). Their value depends, like that of all gemstones, from their color, clarity and size. Color changing Sapphires exhibit different colors in different lights and / or under different view angles.

Gemstone Meanings for Sapphire

Mentioned several times in the Bible, the Sapphire was one of the gemstones on Aaron's breastplate as well as one of the building stones of the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation. It is the zodiac stone for Taurus (20th April to 20th May) and the birthstone for August in the Ayurveda tradition, as well as the birthday stone for Saturday.

Some people say the Sapphire can enhance mental abilities and attract wealth. An interesting idea that circulates in some folk medicine schools is that Sapphire worn around the neck will cure a sore throat. I don't know, but this remedy seems a tiny bit expensive for such a minor problem ;-)

Selenite

Selenite is not one single mineral, but a group of four sub-varieties of Gypsum that comes in a color range from gray-white over yellow-brown-green to different shades of green. All members of the Gypsum family are very soft minerals, soft enough to be scratched by a fingernail, therefor they are rarely used as gemstones or for ornamental carvings, but when carefully polished, some of them can acquire a nice pearly luster and are considerate collectibles.

The four varieties are called: Selenite, Satin Spar, Desert Rose and Gypsum Flower, but sometimes they are altogether just called Selenite. The term Selenite comes form the Greek word for moon and has the same root as the name 'Selene' for the moon Goddess.

Selenite itself is mostly found in colorless and transparent form, hues are due to inclusion of other minerals.

Satin Spar is more silky and translucent and comes either in shades of white or with a slight color hue, depending on the other minerals in it.

The Desert Rose of the Selenite or Gypsum should not be confused with the Barite variety of the same name which is harder. The Selenite Desert Rose is mostly sand colored and seems to be 'dusted' with sand grains. The Gypsum Flower looks similar, but comes in a variety of shapes.

Clear Selenite can also have a wide array of inclusions which can add to their 'collectibility'. Historically clear Selenite has also been used as a substitute for window glass. Gypsum is very common and can be found worldwide, Desert Roses (hence the name) are often found in arid regions and especially around salt lakes.

Gemstone Meanings for Selenite

Selenite feels warm to the touch and is often considered to be helpful to clean the atmosphere in a room from negative energies. Desert Roses are used to increase mental abilities and self-awareness and as a meditation focal point. It is also considered to be a, gentle, love stone by some and / or to help to attract the angelic realm, therefor it is also seen as a protection stone. Folk medicine uses for Selenite are unclear, if you think you know more about them in this aspect, please leave a comment with the source you are referring to.

Smoky Quartz

For mineralogical information about Smoky Quartz see above under 'Quartz'. This Quartz comes in different sub-varieties, named after the places they were found, like the Morion (Brazil) which is opaque and of dark brown to black color or the Cairngorm (Scotland) which is more yellow- or gray-brown. The later plays an important part in traditional Scottish jewelry and as an ornamental stone for kilt accessories.

Gemstone Meaning for Smokey Quartz

Said to increase physical energy and to give endurance, it is also said to boost the bearers 'joie de vivre' and to enhance creativity and learning abilities. Others say it is a protection stone that neutralizes negative energies and folk medicine says it might be good against depressions as it is said to, cleanse, shield and protect.

Staurolite

Staurolite is also called the Cross Stone ('stauros'=cross and 'lithos'=stone in Greek), because of the distinctive cross shape of its crystals. Other nick names include 'Fairy Stone' or 'Fairy Cross' as it was believed in pre-scientific times, that only fairies could have made a stone that carries such a powerful symbol. It is a mineral with yellow-brown, dark red- or black-brown color, blue or golden colored stones are rare, but can be found. A hard, but brittle, stone that can be transparent to opaque and has a glassy to resinous (waxy) luster when polished. It can be found in North America (being the official gemstone for Georgia) and in parts of the Swiss Alps in Europe.

Gemstone Meanings for Staurolite / Cross Stone

The most powerful stones are said to be those that show a perfect cross, either a traditional one or one that resembles an X, similar to the symbol known as St. Andrew's Cross. Gemstone lore has it that it is an excellent protection stone, especially for children and that it protects against evil forces and the evil eye in general. Considered to be an earth stone, it is also said to help to make a connection with the world of the Fairies and the 'wee folk' in general (Peter Pan fan, anybody?). Others say that it helps to communicate telepathically with animals. On a more practical matter, gemstone lore claims also that holding a Staurolite whilst searching for a lost thing, will find you to find it - and faster. Folk medicine considers it to be a good remedy against aging (who wouldn't like that?) and for general recovery after illness or accident.

Sugilite (Luvulite)

Sugilite, sometimes also known as Luvulite, is a rare, but still only semi-precious, middle-hard and translucent gemstone of the mineral family with pink to purple hue. It is a relatively new discovered stone, that was first described middle of the 20th century by Sugi Ken-ichi. Apart of Japan, it is also found in Canada, South Africa, Italy Australia and India.

Gemstone Meanings for Sugilite / Luvulite

Thought to be another love stone (Hey, we all need more love in our lives, don't we? ;-)) it is also said to give wisdom and the power of discernment to the wearer. It is said to attract love as well as creating love for others in the wearer's heart, spirit and mind. Some see it also as a protection stone that is especially forceful against emotional and spiritual traumas and helps to achieve a state of forgiveness. Quite differently, folk medicine uses it (or so they say!) to cure headaches, help with dyslexia and other neurological conditions and to relieve pain.

Sunstone

A transparent or translucent crystal that comes in colors ranging from colorless over yellow to red, green and blue tones. This semi-precious gemstone is of middle hardness and can be polished to a glassy luster. It belongs to the huge family of Feldspars and can be found in northern Europe and the United States, where it is also the official gemstone of Oregon. Some Sunstones exhibit an effect called 'shiller' when light breaks inside the crystal and provokes this effect. Hematite and copper may cause it and sometimes it makes Sunstone crystals appear darker in the middle and lighter at the edges of the stone.

Sunstone is a pretty recently discovered gemstone, and can now be found in Norway, North America and Siberia.

Oregon Sunstone

Found in and being the official gemstone of Oregon, this sub-variety distinguishes itself from others by displaying several colors at once, when viewed under different angles, due to, irregular, copper inclusions. The "Dust Devil Mine" in Oregon is different from many commercial mines by allowing gem artists, cutters and carvers to mine for their stones themselves and so to find the right one for each artistic purpose, instead of just buying them from the mining company. This gives the Oregon Sunstone a certain personal feel in my opinion.

Gemstone Meanings for Sunstone

Named after the sun because of its golden-yellow-orange color, its is the complementary stone to Selenite (Moonstone). Like that one it is said to be a protective stone both for the person that bears or wears it as as well for the house and home it is in. Used to give an extra energy boost where necessary and even said to increase sexual performance, the Sunstone is also said to ad to the attractiveness of the person that wears it. Folk medicine uses it in cases that energy levels in the body are generally low.

Tiger Eye

A hardish Quartz mineral of golden to red-brown color that can be polished to a beautiful, silky luster. It has many nick names like Hawk Eye (blue).

One of the distinguishing feature of these gemstones is called 'chatoyancy' or 'chatoyance', an optical effect that was named after the French term 'oeil de chat' = 'Eye of Cat', in simple words this means that the fiber in the crystal gives a shiny, silky look to the gemstone when cut in the right way, sometimes it even gives a nearly 3D effect to it. Facets show this effect less well, but a classic cabochon cut will do the trick nicely. Also tumbled stones can show it off nicely, but depending on how well the fibers are placed in relation to the surface. To actually understand the visual effect of 'chatoyancy' / 'chatoyance' it is best to see it with your own eyes.

Unfortunately red hues are rare, and the once that are up for sale are often gemstones that have 'suffered' some sort of heat treatment. If you want to start a true gemstone collection, it is better to stay away from the artificial stuff.

Tiger Eye, and its variants, are found mostly in Asia (Korea, China, India, Burma / Myanmar), Australia, Europe (Spain), Africa (South Africa, Namibia) and the Americas (USA / Canada and Brazil). On a side note, the related gemstone variety Tiger Iron is a rock that was formed by a mixture of Tiger Eye, Hematite (black) and Jasper (red). The resulting bands make for a nice display and the resulting gemstones are used for both jewelry as well as for ornamental stone carvings.

Gemstone Meanings for Tiger Eye, Cat Eye, Falcon Eye and Hawk Eye

Said to give another level of vision to the bearer, Tiger and Hawk Eye, are also said to attract good luck and to protect you from the evil eye of your competitors. Rarely used in folk medicine, it is more a 'Spirit Stone' than a stone that affects the body as such. Some, shamanistic, circles recommend to carve, or have carved, the symbol of your animal guide in Tiger Eye as a mediation help and to help you to easier connect with your spiritual guide.

Topaz

Another transparent, hard silicate mineral that comes in a variety of hues, such as blue, brown, orange, gray, yellow, green or pink. It is transparent and can be polished to a vitreous luster. The color the mineral has determines, to a certain extend, its variety. In its purest form it is colorless, called sometimes 'Silver Topaz', but when other minerals are present in the stone, it can have all possible hues.

When it is orange, it is called 'Precious Topaz' and this gemstone is also the official gemstone of Utah. Blue Topaz is the official gemstone of Texas, btw. Yellow to pink ones are called 'Imperial Topaz' and tend to fade when exposed too long to bright light.

Unfortunately not all nicely colored Topazes are found that way, a lot of them owe their color to heat treatment, making them obviously less valuable than the ones Mother Nature created that way. Another artificial treatment produces the so-called 'Mystic Topaz', a colorless Topaz that has been given an artificial coat to imitate a rainbow effect.

Topaz of nearly all colors can be found worldwide, but especially in the Americas (Utah, Texas, Brazil, Mexico), Europe (Russia, Czech Republic, Germany, Norway,Italy, Sweden), Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka (former Ceylon), Japan), Africa (Nigeria) and Australia.

The name Topaz has its root in the Greek word ' Τοpaziοn', and refers to the original name of St. John's Island in the Red Sea where a gemstone called Peridot (see above) was first found. This stone then changed its name, but as Topaz can be of similar color, it 'inherited' the name and today Topaz is exclusively used for this specific gemstone.

Topaz is said to have been one of the gemstones on Aaron's breastplate (Hoshen), but some scholars doubt this, as the word Topaz at this time could have meant any yellow-green stone. Additionally the real Topaz was not widely know in Israel and Sinai at this time of history.

Gemstone Meanings for Topaz

Lore has it that colorless Topaz is purifying, able to remove energy blockages and can be used in mediations about oneself. Folk medicine sees it similar, able to channel energy through the body and increasing it at the same time where needed.

Tourmaline

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Another gemstone of the silicate mineral group, Tourmaline is found mostly in black, but also in brown, purple, green and even, as bicolor, in green and pink at the same time (known as Watermelon Tourmalines)!

Tourmaline is a hard, but brittle, gemstone that has, when polished, a glassy or waxy luster. The colors, like nearly always, are defined by additional elements, and / or their combinations, in the stone, the most frequent ones being: Iron (brown) and Aluminum (gray to black).

As Tourmaline was first found on Sri Lanka (former Ceylon) it is only natural that it takes its name from the local language Sinhalese, which uses the word 'Thoramalli' for it. The Dutch East India Company brought Tourmalines first to Europe and they became quickly a favorite for the different uses gemstones.

Tourmaline has many sub-varieties, the most important ones being:

Dravite

Found in the Austrian state of Carinthia and named after the river Drave, this variety is of dark yellow to brown-black color.

Schorl

Schorl itself is blue-black, brown-black or black and was long to be believed a gemstone in its own right. Today it is considered to be sub-variety of Tourmaline, the lagest for that, as it makes up for over 90% of all Tourmalines found today.

Elbaite

Elbaite, which takes its name from the Italian island of Elba is a close relative of Schorl, that comes in different hues. Rose or pink Elbaites are also called 'Rubellite', black ones are Schorl, light blue to light blue-green ones are known as Brazilaen Indicolite, colorless ones are called 'Achroite' and green ones are known as 'Verdelite' or Brazilean Emerald. The later name is hugely misleading as they aren't, by no stretch of imagination, true Emeralds. Tourmalines can be found worldwide, with the best gemstones being mined in Brazil and Africa.

Gemstone Meanings for Tourmaline

Lore has it that Schorl (Black Tourmaline) is a lucky stone that attracts wealth and happiness when rubbed with your hands. Tourmalines of other colors are said to bring success (green, like dollar bills ;-)), love and friendship (pink) and therefor the Watermelon Tourmaline that contains both, green and pink, should attract also both, wealth and love – go figure! Folk medicine claims that Schorl is good in shielding from negative energies (as all black gemstones do apparently) and to help with digestive problems.

A blue, blue-green or green gemstone of the phosphate mineral family that is middle-hard, opaque and of waxy to nearly glassy luster when polished. Its distinctive color is due to copper and aluminum inclusions and it is one of the rarer gemstones, sometimes, in fine examples, even achieving true precious gemstone prices.

Used since the earliest times as jewelry gemstone and for ornamental carvings and decorations, the Turquoise is still a favorite today, booth with fashion fans as well as with collectors. The name itself comes from the French word for Turkish, a bit misleading, as the stones that first were brought to Europe came from mines in Persia, they only traveled via Turkey to Europe ;-) One important thing to know about Turqoises is that they not only break easily, but also that they are porous, this means, they loose water easily, this can lead to change of color from blue to green due to dehydration (loss of water). To avoid cracking of the stone, it is often 'backed', i.e. glued on a harder stone or material that serves as fortification.

A bit of history first, before coming to the 'magical' properties of Turquoise: It is most likely the gemstone that is mined, continuously, the longest. The oldest mines that are still worked can be found in Persia (nowadays Iran) and in Sinai (nowadays Egypt). The later ones are in use since at least 5000 years and gave, at some point in time, the nick name 'Land of Turquoise' to the region. These mines are most likely the oldest mines known to mankind and a speciality of the Turquoise found here, is that it can be green with small, dark blue inclusions that are unknown from other sources. But this gemstone is not only found in the Old World, but also in arid areas of North America, especially in the South West, California and New Mexico, where it was used by the indigenous population for stone carvings and jewelry since before the time of Christopher Columbus. Historic Turquoise artifacts from this time demand a high price amongst collectors.

Other places where this stone can be found are China, Tibet, Afghanistan, India, Australia and some parts of South America and Europe. On a side note, the old Egyptians fashioned most likely the best known object that was ever adorned with Turquoise, the Death or Burial Mask of Tutankhamun! The old Egyptians associated this gemstone with Hathor, the Goddess also know as 'Mistress of the West' that welcomed the dead into the next life and that was also the protectress of miners (sic!). Turquoise was imitated fairly soon in the form of a ceramic product which is known as ' faience'. The most valuable ones are said to be those of blue color and fine, even luster. Care has to be taken that Turquoise doesn't come in contact with substances such as perfumes, creams or other cosmetic products as all these can alter its color, due to its porosity which easily allows for them to enter the stone.

Gemstone Meanings for Turquoise

Lore has it that the oldest civilizations that mined and used Turquoise also believed it to be a protection stone and that it would change color depending on the wearer's health and well being. As outlined above, this color change, from blue to green and vice versa, is most likely due to de- and re-hydration of the stone itself ;-) The Aztecs used it to adorn cult objects and the Pueblo Indians, especially the Anasazi of the north, used it as a hunting and war amulet.

Also in Asia it was widely used for decoration, as well for amulets, that were often engraved with scripture quotes and worn for protection. Mentioned in the Bible as one of the stones on Aaron's breastplate, it is also seen as being the Birthstone for December. Worn as a talisman or amulet it is said to attract wealth and health. Folk medicine claims that it is helpful with ailments such as gastritis, gout and other problems of the digestive tract and that it helps to give inner peace.

Named after the Unakas mountains (North Carolina) where it was first found, Unakite is a conglomerate stone that is based on altered Granite combined with Feldspar (pink), Epidote (green) and other Quartzes. The combination of pink and green, when well defined, makes it attractive as a gemstone for jewelry and stone carvings. It can be polished easily and acquires then a nice, shiny luster. After it was first found in the US, deposits have now also been discovered in South America, South Africa and China.

Gemstone Meanings for Unakite

Called by some an unification stone because it unifies different minerals in itself, Unakite is said to give a feeling of oneness to the wearer and to help to defend against dividing energies. Being a relatively new stone, folk medicine hasn't found many uses for it yet, apart of balancing energy in the body.

Disclaimer

And last, but not least, a disclaimer: All information found in this article should be used at your own risk and no responsibility for them can be taken by the author (me). This is especially important regarding all the 'folk medicine' uses of gemstones. Always see a doctor first and never use gemstones internally! As for the rest, just take them with a pinch of salt, just wearing a certain gemstone because of its meaning will not make you rich ;-)

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Updated: on 09/16/2012, Sam
 
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Sam on 06/21/2013

Glad you enjoyed the article and that it "speaks" to you ;-) Yes. there are an awful lot of gemstones around, I guess I covered nearly all ;-) SY

kimbesa on 06/17/2013

Azurite is speaking to me! I had no idea there were so many gemstones.

Sam on 06/17/2013

Good to hear that it is useful ;-) SY

jptanabe on 06/13/2013

Wow, this is a really great resource! I'll be back to check on different gemstones for a long time.

Sam on 09/16/2012

Thanks a lot Mira, like I said before, it took me a looong time to write it ;-)

Mira on 09/12/2012

Man, I have to read this one in installments. It's a fabulous page. I've always loved gemstones but I never got around to learning too much about them, even as I did get to learn a few basic things about rocks and minerals. Your article gives so much information!! And all extremely interesting!

Sam on 06/05/2012

Thanks zteve, it took me a 'few minutes' to write all about gemstone meanings I know ;-) SY

zteve on 06/05/2012

Very comprehensive and interesting page and very well put together!

Sam on 02/28/2012

Thanks Pinkchic18, it took me quite a time to write this article about gemstone meanings ;-)

Pinkchic18 on 02/28/2012

Lots of info here! Very interesting stuff!




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