These names are gems – literally! Gem-names enjoy mostly feminine usage, but they’re increasingly unisex or even masculine. Let’s take a look at how popular these baby names were in 2016, according to Social Security Administration data!
- Amber – Current rank: #374 and falling. Amber‘s current stint in the top 1000 started after the publication of Forever Amber. From what I understand, that book is the World War II generation’s 50 Shades of Gray.
- Amethyst – 159 girls in 2016, up from 125 in 2015.
- Coral – 199 girls, down from 201.
- Diamond – 226 girls, down from 262; 33 boys, down from 35.
- Emerald – 219 girls, up from 194; 13 boys, up from 6. A couple weeks ago, I watched the original Twin Peaks and got a kick out of the names from the fictional soap opera within. “Invitation to Love” has twin characters named Emerald and Jade.
- Garnet – 15 girls, up from 7; 6 boys (reentry). A couple years ago I was reading something in the paper about a local family, and one of their young sons was named Garnet. Garnet was a mildly popular girls’ name in the early 20th century, though it’s almost always enjoyed use amidst both genders.
- Heliodor / Heliodore – Golden beryl. Although Heliodore is unrecorded in the SSA data, Heliodoro is.
- Jacinth – Not currently in use, but there are male and female Jacinths.
- Jade – #117, up from #126. Even though Madison and Ashley were supposedly way more popular than Jade when I was growing up, I feel like Jade was more popular locally. I knew several.
- Jasper – #209 and still rising. Jasper‘s never been out of the top 1000, though the Twilight series gave him a boost.
- Obsidian – As far as I can tell, Obsidian has only charted once in the SSA stats (5 boys were given the name in 2013). I’m really surprised it isn’t a more popular baby name…it sounds so cool!
- Onyx – Increasingly popular unisex gem name! Onyx was given to 172 boys and 56 girls in 2016, up from 118 boys and 38 girls in 2015. I personally wonder if we’re going to see this in the top 1000 in 2017 or 2018; for a boys’ name to rank, it currently needs at least 202 boys to rank. Onyx isn’t far off that mark!
- Opal – 256 girls, up from 231. Do you think this will return to the top 1000 in 2017? The current usage threshold for girls’ names is in the 260-270 range.
- Pearl – #567, up from #627. Pearl was relatively popular for both genders at the advent of the 20th century, but especially for girls. There was a male writer called Zane Grey (1872-1939) whose first name was Pearl.
- Ruby – #71, and the most popular gem name. Ruby hasn’t been this popular since World War II!
- Sapphire – 165, up from 147.
- Topaz – 6 girls (reentry). Topaz is the name of the stepmom in I Capture the Castle, so there’s some literary prestige here!
- Turquoise – Not currently in use; most of the women named Turquoise were born in the late 70s or in the 80s.
Names with gem meanings or associations:
- Beryl – 9 girls (stable). Beryl is a mineral: emeralds, aquamarine, and heliodor are all considered beryls. As far as namesakes go, I think of the early aviatrix Beryl Markham, who wrote West with the Night.
- Crystal – #572, down from #554. Crystal hit the U.S. top 10 in 1982, but it’s been downwards ever since.
- Esmeralda – #377, down from #370; Spanish for “emerald.” Esmeralda spiked in the two years after Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame came out.
- Gem – 14 girls, up from 8.
- Giada – 178 girls, down from 203. Italian for “Jade”
- Gemma – #247 and rising. Italian name meaning “gem.” Growing up, I actually knew a Gemma. She was born a good while before her name ever cracked the top 1000.
- Jewel – #924, down from #886.
- Margaret – #139 and rising. A classic English name deriving from a Greek name that means “pearl.” I can’t tell you how happy I am that Margaret is making a comeback!
- Sapphira – 50 girls, up from 45. Greek name, Biblical character.
Gems that aren’t already names but probably should be:
- Agate – I could see this as a nickname for Agatha.
- Aquamarine – Aqua is a spunky nickname, though it may lead to spontaneous a capella renditions of “Barbie Girl.” For more subdued nicknames, try Marie or Marina.
- Chrysocolla – might be a little unwieldy without a nickname. “Chris?”
- Lapis – from Lapis Lazuli
- Peridot – Perry or Dot for short? Dottie?
- Quartz – I’m surprised that I can’t find this in the SSA stats. Quartz would work especially well as a boys’ name.
- Zircon / Zirconia – I’m not sure how I’d feel if I were named after a synthetic gem stone, but Zirconia sounds kind of pretty and Zircon sounds cool.
One last note – If you like the idea of a timely, seasonal name, look to the birthstones! Most of these work better for girls, but there are plenty of gem-names that can go either way.
- January – Garnet
- February – Amethyst
- March – Aquamarine / Bloodstone. Jasper also used to be a March stone.
- April – Diamond
- May – Emerald
- June – Pearl / Moonstone / Alexandrite
- July – Ruby
- August – Peridot / Spinel
- September – Sapphire
- October – Opal / Tourmaline
- November – Topaz / Citrine
- December – Turquoise / Zircon / Tanzanite
What is your favorite gem name?