The Meaning of Gemstones

Have you ever wondered why you don’t see opals as engagement rings? Or why so many people choose to propose with a diamond?

The traditions and beliefs surrounding gemstones are ancient, they have long been worshipped as sources of power, health, luck, and of course beauty. Elements such as the aesthetic or physical qualities of a stone, as well as the folk lore and superstitions surrounding it give gemstones their meaning. Here are five stones whose attributed meanings have had an enormous impact on their popularity in jewellery.


This is the stone that has borne the brunt of gemstone superstition and arguably suffered greatly. Historically, the opal has gone in and out of favour and known by such polarizing names as ‘The Queen of Gems’ (as it encompasses the colours of all the other stones) and ‘The Stone of Tears’ (as it is believed to bring bad luck and death). In cultures with an evil eye belief however, the opal has always been unlucky. The opal’s changeable light catching qualities has meant it has been likened to the evil eye or the eyes of witches ‘familiars’ like cats, snakes and rats. An opal is particularly unlucky if used as an engagement ring, as it is thought to bring death, unhappiness and bad luck in the coming marriage.


Because of their hardness and fiery beauty, diamonds have long been thought of as a powerful stone. The most common belief surrounding diamonds is that they can amplify thought. In the case of an engagement ring, this thought amplification is a transference of passionate love and commitment between lovers. The incredible hardness of a diamond too, plays a role in its popularity as an engagement ring, as it is thought to strengthen the bonds between spouses and represent both the overcoming of obstacles and enduring love. If a diamond is given with malicious intentions however, it becomes cursed and can cause illness and death.


An auspicious stone revered in many Asian as well as Maori cultures; jade is thought to bring peace, wisdom and balance to its wearer. Jade has long been symbolic of purity in Chinese folklore as it was thought to be crystalised moonlight which had tumbled down to earth from sacred mountains. Popularly worn throughout the world, jade is also thought to block negative influences and energy.


Thought of a source of wisdom, health, protection, power and piety, the amethyst is one of the most popular stones in a spiritual sense. In Catholicism, the amethyst is known as the Bishop’s stone and is thought to symbolize spirituality piety, humility and sincerity. Amethyst also plays an integral role in many new age belief systems, thought to concentrate the power of healers and purify other stones.


Often called the ‘Stone of Successful Love’, the emerald is sacred to the goddess Venus and is meant to bind lovers together. Indeed, it thought that if you give your lover an emerald, they will remain eternally faithful to you as it bestows infinite patience, compassion, unconditional love and unity upon its wearer. For those looking to attract love, it is thought that wearing an emerald out of sight and close to the heart encourages romantic interest.