Discover now some new gems (and their origin)

Photo by Camille Cox on Unsplash

Have you ever looked up your birthstone and wondered where it came from? Well, we certainly did, but we were even more curious about the origin of the name of some gems. 


If you were born in January, you are probably familiar with this stone. Red in color, the meaning of garnet makes sense, but it is interesting nonetheless.

Granet is a variable color averaging a dark red, according to Merriam-Webster. The color of this gemstone reminded the French of the pomegranate. In French, the fruit was called pomme grenate, meaning “seedy apple.” The word grenate (seedy) is the source of the adjective grenat, meaning “red like a pomegranate,” which transformed into “garnet” when borrowed into English.


The amethyst is the birthstone for February and one variant of the color purple. The gem was very common and was used in rituals. Gems were often believed to have magical properties and powers. For example, the amethyst was believed to cure or prevent the state of drunkenness in people. For that reason, the Greeks named the gemstone amethystos, which comes from the prefix a-, meaning “not,” and methyein “to be drunk.”


Alexandrite is the birthstone for June. The gem has many different colors from green to purple, but usually people choose pearl or moonstone for the birthstone. The name has a historically prevalent meaning.

It was borrowed from German Alexandrit, for Alexander Nicolajewitsch (the tsar Alexander II). As declared in the first full description of the gemstone, it was named in honor of Aleksandr Nikolaevič, because it was discovered in the Urals on his sixteenth birthday.

According to popular stories, the stone was considered an emerald until Nordenskiöld discovered its color-changing property. He wanted to name it “diaphanite”; but he was allegedly overruled by the imperial official Count Lev Alekseevič Perovskij, who insisted on alexandrite. However, this theory has not been proven and can only be taken as apocryphal.

Do you want to know the origin of your birthstone? Let us know below!

Click here for more curious origins of expressions.

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