The 182 carat (36.4 g) Star of Bombay, housed ...
The 182 carat (36.4 g) Star of Bombay, housed in the National Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C., is a good example of a blue star sapphire. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re calling our daughters Ruby and Pearl … why not this gemstone names?

Thanks to Chante for suggesting Sapphire as our Baby Name of the Day.

It isn’t just Sapphire’s status as a gemstone, but her potential as a color name that intrigues.  There’s Beyonce’s baby girl Blue Ivy, plus mainstream favorites Scarlett, Violet, and Jade.  Other baby blue possibilities include Indigo, Azure, and Azura.  Color names are having a good run, and blue is a hue to watch.  Of course, sapphires can also be green and yellow and pink, but most of the time we think of them as, well, sapphire blue.

Sapphire comes from the Latin sapphirus, from the Greek word for blue stone.  The word has a long history of use, but it may not have always applied exclusively to the stone we know today.  There’s speculation that sapphirus comes from a Sanskrit word meaning sacred to Saturn.

Women named Sapphire are quite rare.  There was a minor character in Amos ‘n’ Andy, and a superhero in the DC Comics universe, born Candace Gennaro.

And yet there are some in US Census records.  Those parents may have been inspired by the Bible.  Sapphira appears with her husband Ananias in Acts of the Apostles.  Only she’s not exactly a role model.  First Ananias lies to Peter about money and falls dead.  Then Sapphira repeats the lie and meets the same fate.

Willa Cather wrote a novel called Sapphira and the Slave Girl, but her Sapphira isn’t admirable, either.

But sapphires themselves symbolize lots of positive attributes – heaven in the Middle Ages, truth, sincerity, and loyalty.  It is the birthstone for September and common in engagement rings – Prince Charles proposed to Lady Diana with a sapphire, the same ring Prince William passed on to Kate Middleton.  The gems are big with royals, and many notable sapphires have been part of crown jewels.

By now I might have convinced you to wear sapphires, but the case for the stone as a baby name is elusive.  And yet, Emerald seems wearable because of the easy short form Emme.  Could Sapphire benefit from the sound-alike names in favor today?

  • She shares sounds with the #1 Sophia.
  • Stephanie is entering mom-name territory, but still lends Sapphire a hint of familiarity.
  • Up-and-comer Josephine nods to Sapphire, too.
  • Starbaby Seraphina is very close to Sapphire and Sapphira.

All of this suggests that while Sapphire is a daring name, it isn’t an outlandish one.  In the middle spot, she’d be brilliant.  As a given name, as long as she’s anchored with something more conventional in the middle, she’d wear reasonably well.  Not sure you dare bestow a gemstone as a given name?  Sapphira seems like an equally attractive option, just one step removed from the stone.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I named my daughter Saphire Rose and I always get comments on how beautiful and unique it is. My daughter fits the name perfectly, very colorful and a little ball of fire. She likes being called Sappy and Rosie, but I still call her Saphire. Once they hear her name people always remember who she is. Saphire Rose fits her perfectly.

  2. This is my name and no one has ever made fun of me…well since grade school anyway 🙂

  3. Can totally see this name as usable – the short form Sapphy is basically the same nickname that people use for Saffron.

    I know people are saying “stripper name” but 20 years ago that’s exactly what people said about Ruby too, and now she’s #1 in some states. I imagine the same kind of people who were daring enough to see past Ruby’s past history would be attracted to Sapphire.

    Personally I much prefer Sapphira though, despite being a Biblical bad girl.

  4. I have a friend who says weird things often. “Ahh, Sapphire!” is one of them. I toy with Safira though. Feels exotic & sweet all at the same time. Sapphira, while having the same sound,is too clunky looking for me. What a stunning middle Sapphire would make: Anna Sapphire, Fiona Sapphire, Katharine Sapphire, Tova Sapphire. Yep, Sapphire works great in the middle for me!

  5. Sapphires are beautiful gems, and I adore the color blue, but I am not sure I could use this as a first name. I do think it would make an unusual and unexpected middle name. I like the idea of using gems as a middle, and have considered using Opal as a middle to honor the fact that both of my parents were born in October.

  6. I’m sorry to any Sapphire’s out there, but I have to agree with the stripper association. It’s way too strong. Then again, we’ve vetoed Ruby, Scarlett, and Layla because they sound “too sexy”. Pearl, on the other hand, sounds almost pious. I could get behind Sapphira though…

  7. Sapphire is the pen name of the woman who wrote the book “Push” which became the movie “Precious” That is the most emotionally disturbing book I have ever read. Fantastic book but tough on the soul so I have a hard time seeing the name as usable on a little girl. Weird how name associations can be so strong.

    1. And Sapphire took her name from “cultural association with the image of a belligerent Black woman” i.e the Amos n’ Andy character.

      There’s an article about the Sapphire Caricature on the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia’s website.

      I appreciate Sapphire’s writing, but I wouldn’t touch this name with a ten-foot-pole.

  8. My cousin likes Sapphira. It’s less obviously strippery and there’s a Biblical context.