From vintage Pearl to modern Emerald, gemstone-inspired girl names are a rich and vibrant bunch. Gemstone names can be obvious and even flashy – think Diamond – to subtle, even under-the-radar, like Gemma.
Speaking of Gemma, there’s a whole category of gemstone baby names that gather up the entire jewelry box. Their meanings refer to precious gems in general, not a specific stone.
If you’re thinking about a jewel box pick for a daughter, this list ranges from the traditional and popular to the downright daring.
But first, let’s talk about why you might choose gemstone names.
GEMSTONE NAMES: VERSATILE + MEANINGFUL
Want to honor your grandmother Margaret? Or maybe July is your birth month, the month you got married, and the month you found out you were expecting? Gemstone names work in both of those cases. Margaret means pearl, making Pearl an instant update to your traditional family name. And Ruby, July’s birthstone, can nod to all of those life events.
Every month of the year comes with at least one sparkling gem attached – usually more. And gemstones symbolize all sorts of meanings, too.
Let’s take a look at baby names inspired by all things that glitter.
GEMSTONE NAMES FOR GIRLS
Polished agate has been used as jewelry since ancient Greece. Today it might make an update to Agatha, and a possible formal name for Aggie. In fact, it looks like Agathe and Agata, international forms of the name.
Discovered around the year 1800, alexandrite is a form of chrysoberyl – no relation to beryl. Named for a Russian monarch, Alexandrite could be an unusual feminine form of Alexander. Or it might simply be a nod to the stone, known for its color-changing properties.
As a name, Amber was boosted by a 1944 romance novel. But as jewelery, it has been considered desirable for far longer. Formed when tree resin hardens, amber is found near the Baltic Sea. Not so long ago, entire trade routes flourished just for the material.
February’s birthstone, amethyst comes in shades of purple. That makes it a cousin to color name Violet. It carries an interesting meaning, too. It was used for jewelry by the ancient Egyptians, and the ancient Greeks believed that drinking from amethyst-carved cups would prevent intoxication.
Beryl has been in use as a given name throughout the twentieth century. Early twentieth century aviator Beryl Markham is one notable bearer. It comes from a Greek word borrowed from Sanskrit, referring to the blue-green seawater color of the stone. Though the stone can also be green, red, gold, white, pink, or even clear.
At first glance, Carnelian seems less name-like than Ruby or Pearl. But it sounds a little like Caroline or Julianne. A deep red stone, it’s associated with the summer months.
Golden yellow type of quartz, qualifies as a gemstone baby name. Though we rarely hear citrine mentioned – as a gem, much less as a name – it could seem every bit as name-like as other ends-with-ine choices, from Maureen to Josephine.
There’s something sparky and retro about Coral, a regular in the Top 1000 girl names in the 1880s and 1890s. She was Nemo’s ill-fated fish mom in the Disney flick. Coral stands out on this list – instead of a gemstone, it starts out as a living sea creature. The bright red-pink skeleton can be polished into jewelry. It’s been worn since Ancient Egypt, and it features in myths and legends through the years. One notable tale: blood from the slayed monster Medusa’s head seeped into the ocean and turned drab seaweed into vibrant coral. Coralie and even Coraline might share some of Coral’s appeal.
Back in the late 1970s, Crystal was a name rich with little girl sparkle. It followed the popularity of Christine, Christina, and Kristen, almost another Chris name. Crystal isn’t a precious gem, not exactly. Instead, it is a specific molecular structure. The name’s Greek origin means “ice,” and we often think of crystal stemware, like champagne flutes – except they’re actually glass. But diamonds are crystals. So are snowflakes. And some crystals are big, chunky things. So it’s a broad term, a little bit glittery, and a little bit crunchy.
As a given name, Diamond entered the US Top 1000 in the middle of the 1980s, rose into the 1990s, and then quickly faded. The traditional birthstone of April, there’s something flashy about Diamond that makes it feel suited for the glitz of the 1980s. But this formerly popular gemstone name has another advantage – it comes from a Greek root meaning invincible.
In the 1980s, Ebony hovered just outside the US Top 100. Strictly speaking, it isn’t a gemstone at all, but a very dark hardwood that can be polished ’til it shines. If Ebony hadn’t been a hit then, it would fit right in with Willow and Rowan today.
Esmeralda means emerald in Spanish, and was made famous by the French novelist Victor Hugo’s masterpiece The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Esme isn’t related, but sounds like a cousin to Esmeralda. But it’s Emerald – the English-language word for the green gemstone – that’s rich with potential. It shortens to Emmy, or substitutes for Ruby. Speaking of Ruby, the similar Ruri is a Japanese name meaning emerald.
Tailored Garnet sounds a bit like masculine Garrett and Gareth. But garnet is also a gemstone, used from the Late Roman era into the Anglo-Saxon period and beyond. It is the birthstone for January and the official gemstone of the state of New York.
Think Violet is too popular? Iolite is the Greek word for violet, and the gemstone name for cordierite. It comes in all shades of blue and has a curious feature – it can serve as a compass, by showing the true direction of the sun on cloudy days.
On the downside, our love of ivory has contributed to devastating population declines of elephants. And yet, ivory remains a thing of beauty, long used in jewelry, art, and many an item, from piano keys to carved icons. And the sound is exactly on trend, a cousin to Avery and Ivy.
Once a daring celebrity baby name, Jade has since become a mainstream favorite in the US. Mick and Bianca Jagger welcomed Jade way back in 1971; by 1975, it entered the girls’ Top 1000. It’s been used for boys in small numbers, and remains potentially unisex. Related names like Jada, Jayda, and the Italian Giada are also heard. Back to the gem: there are two separate types of rock known as jade. Both are a shade of green, ranging from light to vibrant.
An intense shade of blue, artists relied on lapis lazuli to create a vibrant shade of blue paint. Lapis is Latin for stone, while lazuli comes from a Persian word meaning heaven or sky, so lapis lazuli is the stone of heaven. It could make an interesting, surprising choice for a daughter’s name, rich with meaning.
It looks like the Biblical Micah, but Mica also serves as a nickname for Michaela. And Mika is a separate Japanese name – though it’s typically pronounced with a long ‘e’ sound, instead of Mike-with-an-a. Mica makes the list of gemstone names for girls because of the minerals. While they’re used to create everything from drywall to cosmetics, mica can also be fashioned into jewelry, especially beads.
A pink or sometimes peach or even orange gemstone, morganite is related to beryl. In fact, it’s sometimes called pink beryl. While everyone thinks of diamonds for engagement rings, morganite is quickly rising in popularity. It’s affordable and quite stylish. But could Morganite work as a given name? It’s an elaboration of former favorite Morgan, so it just might.
It looks like a member of the Olivia family, a longer take on Olive. But it’s actually another mineral, found in lovely shades of green. Gem-quality olivine is typically known as peridot, and yet the popularity of Olivia makes this a potential gemstone name for a daughter.
Opal ranked in the US Top 100 from 1904 through 1919, and returned to the US Top 1000 in 2017. Opals come in a wide variety of colors and varieties. It’s associated with October, and was once thought to bring good luck – until a popular nineteenth century novel put a tarnished opal at the center of its plot, and opal sales plummeted. Today, though, an opal is just a lovely gemstone – and a lovely gemstone name for a girl.
A vintage favorite that remains just outside of the mainstream, Pearl has a long history of use and many layers of meaning. Pearls occur naturally when a speck of something settles inside a mollusk. The gemstone is created by the iridescent shell around the speck – actually chemicals secreted to protect the mollusk from the irritant. Once we had to open bushels of mollusks to find a handful of pearls. Now we farm them. It’s the birthstone for June. The Scarlet Letter and Pearl S. Buck make it literary. A pearl is also something of great value – or perhaps a pearl of wisdom. Margaret means pearl, and so Margaret-derived names like Maisie, Greta, and Margot share the meaning, too.
Pronounce this gemstone with a silent t: pehr eh doe. Or rhyme the final syllable with hot and Scott. Both are used. The -doe ending puts Peridot in the company of Margot, Willow, and Cleo. But Dot makes an irresistible nickname. With girl names starting with P, like Penelope, Poppy, and Piper, so in favor, perhaps Peridot could fit right in.
A popular baby girl name in the 1910s and again a century later, Ruby might be the most common gemstone name today. The red Ruby brings to mind so many things. The vibrant color, Dorothy’s charmed slippers, many a popular song, from “Ruby Tuesday” to “Ruby Soho.” Ruby is short, sweet, and complete. The name feels friendly and sophisticated at the same time.
They’re glittering blue gems, widely recognized and valued in jewelry. Princess Diana’s engagement ring was a 12-carat blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds, now worn by her daughter-in-law, Kate. It would make a daring name, but not an unwearable one. For something just the tiniest bit less gemstone-like, there’s Sapphira – a name used by Willa Cather and worn by a Biblical figure, too.
Topaz belongs to a hummingbird, a Hitchcock film, and a gemstone, too. The November birthstone, Topaz also has that high-value-Scrabble letter z-ending. It’s a little flashy, but picks up a quirky, literary vibe thanks to Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle – Topaz is the stepmother of the eccentric Mortmain clan.
Like Olivine, this might make for a perfect, unexpected middle. Can’t picture tourmaline? It comes in a wide variety of types and colors, making it tough to spot a tourmaline at twenty paces. And yet, most would instantly recognize this as a gemstone name.
THE ENTIRE JEWELRY BOX OF GEMSTONE NAMES
Originally from a Breton word for a bejeweled ring, today bijou refers to any little gem or bauble. It’s also a synonym for elegant, and a name associated with theaters and at least one famous figure, Bijou Phillips, daughter of musician John Phillips.
In Italian, gemma is the word for gem – a precious stone. Both come from Latin. It may have been a term of endearment before it was a given name, but it has a long history of use in the first spot in Italy. Today Gemma is gaining rapidly, helped by her rhymes-with-Emma sound and her sparkly meaning.
Singer Jewel Kilcher hit it big in the 1990s, using just her first name. It has a much longer history of use than you might guess, for men and women, and ties to a Saint Judicael, the name of a seventh century Breton king. Today it is more likely to be seen as a noun name, and a feminine one. Jewel’s close to the classic Julia and company, increasing the name’s wearability.
It looks like an ever sparer take on Lynn, but this is a Chinese name. It can mean gem, or possibly jade.
Soraya is associated with the Pleiades, a constellation sometimes known as the Seven Sisters. The name comes from an Arabic word meaning jewel.
WHAT ABOUT BABY BOY NAMES FROM GEMSTONES?
A popular pick for boys, vintage Jasper can be green, red, or a mix of both – and sometimes other colors, too. As a given name, it’s a cousin to Casper and Gaspard, too, traditionally associated with the Three Kings from the Nativity story.
This x-ender sounds a little bit like popular Alex, and maybe owes something to Nick, too. It’s ranked in the US Top 1000 for boys since 2018. Onyx has been used for everything from bowls to beads, and ranges in color from white to black, though it is the darker shades that we typically associate with the stone.
Are there other gemstones that would make great girls’ names? Do you see any on this list that you might consider for a daughter?
First published on January 3, 2014, this post was revised substantially and re-posted on April 28, 2022.