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Gemstone Meanings: The Surprising Symbolism of Your Jewels

B. Earth

We’ve all heard that diamonds symbolize true love, but what are the symbolic meanings of other popular gemstones? From ancient times to today, gems of every hue have been imbued with significance and special powers by cultures around the world. Here are the legends associated with some of the world’s most treasured jewels:

Sapphire

sapphire

Blue has long been considered the color of fidelity, and sapphires were once the preferred gem for engagement rings (before diamonds claimed that honor in the early 20th century).
 

Emerald

emerald

Legends have said that placing an emerald under your tongue gives you the ability to foresee the future (but we do not recommend that!), and that emerald protects against evil spells and can cure disease.
 

Ruby

ruby

Ancient Hindus believed that those who offered rubies to the god Krishna would be emperors in a future life. People in India and Burma have also believed that rubies offered safety and peace, and medieval Europeans thought that these gems guaranteed health, wealth, wisdom, and success in love.
 

Amethyst

amethyst

Because of its color the ancient Greeks associated amethyst with the wine god Bacchus, and believed that the gem could prevent drunkenness. Amethyst has also been thought to keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted.
 

Peridot

peridot

The Egyptians thought that peridot protected against nightmares and brought the wearer confidence, good luck and health. In fact, it’s believed that some of Cleopatra’s famous emeralds were actually peridots.
 

Aquamarine

aquamarine

Aquamarine is believed to provide courage, mental clarity and good health. Because of its association with water, aquamarine has been said to keep sailors safe at sea.
 

Pearl

pearl

In ancient China, pearls were believed to protect against fire, and in Europe they were associated with chastity and purity. Pearls retain that association with innocence today.
 

Garnet

garnet

Garnet has long been associated with clergy and nobility. In ancient Egypt the pharaohs wore red garnet necklaces, and in ancient Rome rings with carved garnets were used to stamp the wax on important documents.
 

Citrine

citrine

This gem is also known as “healing quartz,” because legend has it that citrine promotes vitality and energy in whomever wears it. And according to the Chinese feng shui philosophy, citrine creates wealth and abundance.
 

Opal

opal

Because opals can exhibit so many different colors within a single stone, it has long been thought to possess supernatural powers. In ancient Rome, this gem symbolized love and hope. The ancient Greeks believed opals gave their owners the gift of prophecy and guarded them from disease. Europeans have long considered the gem a symbol of hope, purity, and truth.  Once, it was thought to have the power to preserve the life and color of blond hair.
 

Zircon

zircon

Folk wisdom says that zircon has the power to relieve pain, protect travelers and prevent nightmares. In the Middle Ages, this gem was thought to induce sound sleep, drive away evil spirits, and promote riches, honor, and wisdom.
 

Topaz

topaz

Topaz symbolizes love and fidelity, and is said to bestow strength and intelligence on the person who wears it, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
 

Turquoise

turquoise

From ancient times to today people have ascribed special powers to turquoise. Native American tribes of the Southwest wore turquoise as an amulet thought to offer protection, and in ancient Persia (and modern day Iran) some believe that wearing turquoise can ward off the “evil eye” (other people’s ill will).
 

Final Thoughts

Do you buy into the idea that gemstones have special meanings or powers? Do you wear a gem as a good luck charm? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter, or in the comments section!

Sources: Gemological Institute of America, American Gemological Society

COMMENTS

Marion Says:
June 2nd, 2016 at 10:29 am

True or False: It is “bad” luck to wear
a gemstone that is not your Birthstone? Especially OPAL

Jessica gabriel Says:
July 2nd, 2016 at 9:48 am

I wear a turquoise since it’s my birthstone. Is it ok. I need something that will draw wealth and success to as I,m having a lot of bad luck and my money keeps going and I’m left with nothing . Let me know also I have a lot of gemstone rings and earrings like garnet, Oman alexandrite jade diamond but wear this occasionally whe I go out. The only ring with turquoise I wear every day 24/7

traceymccreadie Says:
July 3rd, 2016 at 11:38 am

I like the rings

Patrick Lawlor Says:
July 8th, 2016 at 3:43 pm

Very nice and interesting.

Patrick Lawlor Says:
July 8th, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Very educational to our clients.

Karen Says:
July 21st, 2016 at 6:04 pm

Marion, so interesting that you should say that about the Opal. My birthstone is the turquoise but I would like to wear a white opal. I’ve made many friends and cherish everyone of them. I liken an opal to meeting someone. At first you see a blank page but as you get to know them you see their colours. Their “true blue” causes. What they feel strong about. In my cause that would be teaching children. The things that they love … “red”. My case — dogs. The natural beauties of this world would be the green. Me — waterfalls. Yellow is a happy colour. What makes that friend happy. I love to see my friends laugh. I don’t own an opal but I consider my friends “gems”.

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