5 Surprising Names: Jewelry and Gemstones

Looking for a name for your baby? Look to your jewelry box for inspiration.

This is the third part in our series on surprising names. The first part covered botanical names and the second part covered homespun nickname-names. A name’s first qualification for being considered for this series is that it must fall outside of the top 1000, but that’s the bare minimum requirement.

Even names outside of the top 1000 get a lot of attention on name forums and blogs. To get an idea of how much attention a name gets online, and how much potential a name has, I consulted two online baby name resources:

  1. The number of search results in nameberry’s blog and forums. nameberry is an online community of name enthusiasts who are often ahead of the trends, and
  2. The name’s ranking on BabyCenter, a huge online parenting site.

The method is in no way scientific, but helps screen names outside the top 1000 that still might seem expected.

Jewelry and Gemstones

Ruby is the big gemstone name of the moment and certainly not surprising enough for this list. Peaking at #22 in 1911, Ruby has climbed the charts again, but not as rapidly one might think given all the attention and praise Ruby gets. After declining to its low point in the 1970s-80s, Ruby slowly made a rebound and ranked at #109 last year.

The next name to follow (or actually first name if you go back in time) was Pearl. Pearl peaked in the top 30 from 1883 to 1900, declined, and fell outside the top 1000 in 1987, then returned to the top 1000 in 2007. Pearl was the name Jack Osbourne gave his daughter born this April, and Pearl saw a respectable increase in 2011, rising 145 places from #958 to #813.

The next is my favorite – Opal. Opal peaked at the bottom of the top 100 from 1905 to 1919, and has yet to return to the top 1000. Yay!

Except. Opal gets 2,296* search results on nameberry. Ideally names included in this series should get fewer than 1000 search results on nameberry (fewer than 700 is better).

But. Opal was the inspiration for this series.

And. Opal only ranks #2371 on BabyCenter, and is trending down slightly.

Opal will be included. I’m still pleasantly surprised Opal isn’t more mainstream. And I suspect many of you will like Opal. You will have you chance to confirm or refute my assumption in the poll.

Diamond is excluded from this list because it is a bit dated. It peaked at #150 in 1999, and declined to #760 in 2011. Amber, which peaked at #13 in 1986, and has since declined to #260 in 2011 is also too dated for this list.

Now let’s open your jewelry box and consider some of these.

Coral – This is simple and pretty, and not at all ornate. Some people feel Coral is comparable to Pearl, but Coral doesn’t seem as illustrious. While Coral’s sound many not turn heads, it won’t turn many people off either. This name has an understated style that’s comforting to many. For that reason, I’m surprised this name is not in the top 1000. There were 146 baby girls named Coral last year.

The elaborate form Coraline was slightly more popular last year; there were 224 Coraline’s born in 2011. Based on the numbers, Coraline is the name with real breakout potential. While Coraline does not yet rank in the official top 1000, it ranked at #809 on BabyCenter for 2012. Coral, by comparison, gets a lot less attention, ranking at #2058 on BabyCenter for 2012.

Garnet – This unisex name peaked on both boys and girls in the early part of the 20th century, but never ranked higher than #375 on girls in 1911 and #587 on boys in 1904. Today the name is rare, given to 11 girls and fewer than 5 boys in 2011 (there were 5 boys named Garnett). This is a shame because while the name may not sound conventionally pretty, it has a fascinating etymology. This January birthstone’s name is derived from granatum, which means seed because the stone resembles a pomegranate seed. Garnet was also used by the Egyptians as far back as 3100 B.C. as inlets in jewelry.

Opal – This October birthstone would be a terrific name for an October baby. If I had any more kids, I would seriously consider this name. I especially like how the name begins with an O and my last name ends with an O. Opaline is a more elaborate form. In 2011 there were 92 girls named Opal, and fewer than 5 named Opaline.

Peridot – Is Arabic and means “green gemstone”. It is pronounced PEH-ree-doe. Peri might make a good nickname, but there’s no need to shorten it. Peridot is a terrific find, and was given to fewer than 5 babies in 2011.

Sapphira – is from the Greek sappheiros, which means Sapphire. This Old Testament name is pronounced suh-fahy-ruh. Sapphira is not the most admirable character in the Bible. She was struck down by God in Acts 5 for lying. But  having character flaws hasn’t kept Delilah (#172) from quickly climbing the charts. I say Sapphira can catch on, but that hasn’t happened yet. In 2011 there were 23 girls named Sapphira.

Gemstone names hold many mysteries, such as, “Why is the elaborate form, Coraline more popular than Coral, yet the shorter Opal is more popular than Opaline?” We may never learn the answers to this question. But maybe the answer doesn’t matter. What matters is these names hold a certain allure.

Readers: What surprising jewelry and gemstone name is your favorite?

* These nameberry search result numbers are as of October 1, 2012 and could change at any time.

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  1. A friend of mine is pregnant and her top pick for a girl is Emerald.

    For me, I like Ruby, Coral, and Opal, though I prefer Coralee (or Coralina) and Opaline. I also like Pearl, Diamond, and Sapphire on boys. Topaz makes another interesting pick. I’ve also long liked Beryl. Then there are the blacks: Ebony, Jet, Obsidian, and Onyx.

  2. I also just encountered Fairuza, which means “turquoise”. I quite like it.

  3. I prefer the name Sapphire to Sapphira. I also love Amethyst and Emerald. Opal and ruby are another two if my favorites. And for boys I like Garnet, Jasper, and Onyx. I think Opal and Onyx would make a great sibset. (But then again, I’m a bit cutesy!)


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