Last year, the most popular baby names in the U.S. were Noah, Liam and Jacob for boys, and Sophia, Emma and Olivia for girls. With traditional names making a comeback, expecting parents are taking a closer look at the Victorian-era names associated with precious stones.
At the beginning of the 20th century, it was not unusual for a one-room schoolhouse to be filled with young ladies named Pearl, Opal, Coral and Beryl. Parents believed that children named for precious stones would be anointed with luck and prosperity.
Now, more than 100 years later, five gem-inspired names are ranked in the Social Security Administration’s official list of the Top 1000 Baby Names.
Here’s a countdown of the top five, along with their symbolic meaning and comparative rankings from five years earlier…
5. Diamond. Famous for its strength, clarity and brilliance, diamond is the hardest substance known to man and the birthstone for the month of April. As a girl’s name, Diamond ranked #712 in 2013, down from #446 in 2008.
4. Pearl. Said to symbolize the purity, generosity, integrity and loyalty of its wearer, Pearl was one of the top girl’s names in 1880. It slowly faded from favor over the next 100 years, but resurfaced recently. Pearl ranked #677 in 2013 and did not make the Top 1000 chart in 2008. Maya Rudolph named her daughter Pearl Minnie Anderson in 2005.
3. Amber. This beautiful deep yellow gemstone is made from fossilized tree resin. It was also a marginally popular girl’s name in the late 1800s (ranking between 800 and 1000). Then, it zoomed to the very top of the list in 1980 and has fallen off only a bit over the past 34 years. Amber ranked #288 in 2013, down from #165 five years earlier. Johnny Depp's fiancée is Amber Heard.
2. Jade. This deep green gemstone, which is revered in the Orient for its mystical and healing properties, arrived on the U.S. top names chart in 1980 and has been in the Top 200 since 1992. In 2013, it ranked #126, up slightly from #130 in 2008. Jada, a slight variation of the name, was also highly ranked at #248. TV chef Giada De Laurentiis named her daughter Jade in 2008. Giada is the Italian word for Jade.
And our top-rated gem name is…
1. Ruby. Fiery and captivating, the rich red ruby is known as the stone of nobility and is considered a symbol of passion and power. For the past 134 years, the name Ruby has never placed lower than #400. It was near the top of the list in 1910, reached its low point in 1980 and has been making a rapid ascent ever since. Rated #93 in 2013, Ruby moved up 20 places over the past five years. Toby Maguire named his daughter Ruby in 2006 and today it stands as the most popular gemstone-inspired name.
In addition to the top five gemstone names, here are some unranked names for your consideration: Amethyst, Beryl, Garnet, Emerald, Coral, Sapphire, Opal, Peridot, Onyx and Topaz.
Gem photos: Ruby, jade, pearl and diamond by Stuller.com.
Gem photo: Amber (unattributed)