Home Consumer The Multi-Faceted Origins of 12 Birthstone Names

The Multi-Faceted Origins of 12 Birthstone Names

SHARE
birthstones
(Pixabay)

Precious gems and stones—long valued for their rarity, beauty, and fabled powers—have been associated with the months of the year since antiquity. But it wasn’t until 1912, when the American National Retail Jeweler’s Association (now the Jewelers of America) met in Kansas City, that the first modern list of birthstones was standardized.

Just as many-faceted as the birthstones themselves, though, are the origins of their names. A great many of them came into English in the early 1200s to 1300s and share a similar lineage: loaned from French, filtered from Latin, borrowed from Greek, which often adopted older Semitic or Sanskrit words. While there are variations in some of the months’ birthstones, here are 12 of their etymologies, unearthed.

1. GARNET
birthstones
(Image: Jarno/Flickr)

January’s birthstone, garnet, is actually a group of several related silicate minerals. They’re most famously red, but can be found in several colors, including green. The name likely comes from the Latin granatum, meaning “pomegranate,” due to the likeness of the gem’s most famous color and shape to the small seeds and red flesh of the fruit. Another hypothesis is that it’s from the Latin granum for “grain,” in this case referring to a red dye.

MentalFloss, excerpt posted on SouthFloridaReporter.com, April 20, 2017

SHARE
mental_floss is the international media brand that gives smart, curious knowledge junkies their fix with upbeat, witty explorations of everything from science to pop culture to tech to history.