The magic of colored gemstones

By Carol Besler

Because gemstones are created by natural forces in the earth, people have long believed they have a special energy with mystical properties that can be passed on to those who wear them. Over the past 5,000 years, colored stones have been variously associated with wealth, power, love, safety and many forms of well-being.

Can gems really heal illnesses and enhance wellbeing? Some people think gem lore is silly – how could a simple rock have so much power?

I would argue that wearing a beautiful gemstone has the power to promote emotional well-being and strength just by making you feel beautiful and powerful.

Gemstones allow us to illuminate our individual spirits and express our own sense of style. Everyone responds to color, and each hue works its own special, secret magic. From amethyst and garnet to the finest rubies and emeralds, jewelry designers are continuously finding new ways of conveying that power. Here are some recent examples, and a glimpse into the special magic of gem colors.


Green is known to inspire harmony and balance because it is in the center of the spectrum. Green expresses freedom and good nature, and green gemstones are considered to be both energizing and reassuring. It is associated with restoration, equilibrium and peace.

Emerald: The ancient Egyptians believed emerald represented fertility and rebirth, as well as hope and loyalty. It was associated with the Greek goddess Venus, who represented love and beauty, and in several cultures as diverse as Chinese and Irish, it has long represented good luck. Emerald has even been credited with improving one’s memory and intelligence, and has the power to transform negativity into positive emotional energy.

Green Tourmaline: Tourmaline is a relatively modern gemstone, reaching wide popularity only in the 1970s. It is said to have special healing properties and the ability to release a wholesome energy to all parts of the body, enhancing courage, strength and stamina. With a hardness of 7-7.5, tourmaline is quite resistant to scratching, chipping and cracking, making it an excellent choice for everyday wear.

Left: Emerald and diamond bracelet by Roberto Coin. Right: Rough and faceted tourmaline from Nomad’s Lapidary, New York


Purple has an aura of mystery and intrigue, but it also represents authenticity and truth. It is said to encourage deep contemplation or meditation, and lead to a higher level of thought. Purple has long been associated with royalty, and has come to represent quality and luxury.

Amethyst: In addition to bringing peace, happiness and emotional well-being, amethyst is credited with the power to enhance your intuition and psychic powers, resulting in good fortune. It was also believed to protect you from snake bites and evil spirits. Amethyst is readily available in large sizes, so it is not unusual to see it as the center stone in bold cocktail rings – the perfect gift for a fifth wedding anniversary or as a February birthday.

Tanzanite: The deep purple of Tanzanite makes it one of the most elegant gemstones on earth. It is associated with the power of communication, with a vibrational energy that invites protection and safety. Tanzanite is relatively rare and sometimes costly, occurring in only one place in the world, the Merelani Hills in Tanzania, East Africa. It was discovered in 1967.

Left: Amethyst earrings from the Imperiale collection by Chopard. Right: Tanzanite diamond and blue sapphire ring by Pasquale Bruni


Red is the color of love. It radiates warmth and produces a strong sense of vitality. Two magical elements are associated with the symbolism of this color: fire and blood, implying warmth and life for mankind.

Ruby: Like no other gemstone, the ruby is the perfect way to express powerful feelings. Ruby symbolizes bravery, determination and passionate energy. A ring set with a precious ruby is a celebration of love, which makes everything else possible. It is also the July birthstone, and the gem of the 40th anniversary.

Garnet: In centuries past, garnets were thought to light up the night and offer protection from nightmares. Travelers carried them to protect against misfortune when far from home. Garnet is brilliant, durable, and available in a broad price range, either as an accent stone or the center of attention. It is the January birthstone.

Left: Magnipheasant cocktail ring with garnets and amethyst by Stephen Webster. Right: Ruby by Constantin Wild


Blue is a universally favorite color. It is cooling and soothing, and is said to inspire wisdom and clarity. Soft blues are thought to calm the mind and aid concentration. True blue lovers are loyal, affectionate, caring and encouraging.

Sapphire: A gift of sapphire symbolizes a pledge of trust, loyalty, and sincerity. It is from this tradition that sapphire has long been a popular choice for engagement rings. The gift of sapphire is a commitment to keeping promises. It is also the birthstone of September. Like ruby, it is one of the most prized of gems due to its hardness and highly saturated color.

Aquamarine: The color of the sea on a warm tropical holiday or a cool iceberg in the Antarctic, aquamarine represents earth’s life-giving forces, and surely one of the cheeriest in the gemstone palette. It was believed to have originated in the treasure chests of mermaids, who doled it out to protect their favorite sailors. As a gem, aquamarine is accessible, beautiful and wearable – it can take a few knocks without chipping.

Left: Burmese sapphire ring by Picchiotti. Right: Sapphire and diamond earrings by Kwiat


Pink symbolizes unconditional love and the freshness of youth. It is the color of romance, warmth, affection and tranquility. More soothing than stimulating, pink represents the feminine principle, reproduction and the survival of the species.

Pink Sapphire: Pink is one of the most popular and most beautiful of the many vibrant colors of sapphire. It represents intuition, clarity and self-mastery. It stimulates the emotions of love, forgiveness and acceptance. Like all sapphires, it is a very hard gem, and is thus suitable for any form of jewelry. It lends an extra-feminine air to any jewelry design.

Morganite: Morganite is a beryl, and therefore gemologically related to aquamarine and emerald. It has a dazzling brilliance and comes in soft colors that range from clear pink to warm peach. There is a gentle, pink energy associated with morganite, that promotes healing and compassion. With a hardness of 7.5, morganite is a durable gem that is well-suited for everyday wear.

Left: Pink sapphire bracelet by Rebecca Designs. Right: Morganite and diamond brooch by Harry Winston

Top image: Left: Morganite. Center stone: Tanzanite by Constantin Wild. Right: Pink Sapphire