Speak Your Heart: Telling Secrets with Acrostic Gemstones

From the JMD archives, here's one of my favorite blog posts ever. Judging from the amount of comments and feedback we received, it was one of your favorites, too! Enjoy this look back…

The lovely old acrostic key brooch I saw on Antiques Roadshow. Can you read the message in these gems?

Have you heard about acrostic jewelry? I learned about it watching an old episode of Antiques Roadshow UK a couple of weeks ago, and now I'm fascinated by it. Just what I needed–a new reason to be hooked on gemstones!

What is Acrostic Jewelry?

Acrostic jewelry is jewelry set with gemstones that spell out a message. Each gemstone represents a letter–the first letter of their name–and they were used like a sparkly alphabet to create messages of love and romance in jewelry. For example, popular gemstones such as diamond would serve as a D, rubies as an R, emeralds as an E, and so on. So if you wanted to spell out "dear," you'd create a piece of gemstone jewelry that featured a diamond, an emerald, an amethyst, and a ruby, in that order. Sweet, isn't it?

Can you guess what word I've spelled here in gems? It's a tough one!
How about this one? It's one I've written about . . .
And this one? Here's a hint: My beloved guy might wear stones like these in his ring . . .

Read on for more about acrostic gems and the history of acrostic jewelry.

The Gemstone Alphabet

Here's a list of gemstones for the alphabet, off the top of my head–there are others that are less common. Some of them are a stretch, and I can't think of a thing for some letters (X? Y?). Can you think of others? Share in the comments below!

(Update: Thanks for all of your comments on the original blog! I've filled in the list below with your help, though some of these stones can be difficult to find and/or not suited for jewelry because of their softness or crystal structure.)

A – amethyst, aquamarine, agate, alexandrite, amber, ametrine, apatite, aventurine
B- benitoite, bixbite, black opal, boulder opal, beryl
C- citrine, carnelian, chrysoprase, coral, chalcedony, chrome diopside, chrysoberyl
D- diamond, demantoid garnet, diopside, dioptase
E- emerald
F- fluorite, faustite
G- garnet, goshenite, girasol
H- hessonite garnet, hematite, hawk's-eye, heliodor, hiddenite, hauyne, heliotrope
I- indicolite, iolite
J- jasper, jade, jet
K- kyanite, kunzite
L- lapis lazuli, labradorite, lepidolite, larimar
M- moonstone, morganite, malachite, magnesite, moukaite
N- nephrite
O- opal, onyx
P- pearl, peridot, pyrite, pietersite, prasiolite, prehnite
Q- quartz
R- ruby, rose quartz, rhodochrosite, rubellite
S- spinel, sapphire, sunstone, South Sea pearl, smoky quartz, sodalite
T- tourmaline, tanzanite, topaz, turquoise, tiger's-eye, Tahitian pearl, tsavorite
U- unakite
V- variscite, vessonite, vesuvianite, verdite, vandanite
W- watermelon tourmaline
X- xenotime, xonotlite (a new favorite!)
Y- yttrium fluorite, YAG, yuksporite
Z- zircon, zoisite, zebra stone

You'd think Z would be hard, but in this case, it's easy, and V, X, and Y leave me blank! There are some, of course–mostly collector's stones that are too rare or too soft and not suitable for jewelry. Thank goodness for all the kinds of garnet. Am I forgetting any gems? Help me out in the comments below!

Isn't that fun? To learn more clever ways to incorporate gemstones into your jewelry designs, subscribe to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine. There are gemstone profiles, an artists' gallery, and projects in each issue that show how to use gemstones of all kinds in your jewelry designs–even some tutorials for cutting your own gems and cabochons!


Update: Here are the answers to my acrostic messages in these photos:

The first one is: citrine-hauyne-amethyst-ruby-moonstone-emerald-diamond = charmed

The second is: ruby-emerald-garnet-amethyst-ruby-diamond-sapphire = regards

The third one is: tanzanite-amethyst-moonstone = Tam, my nickname

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