Stones photo gallery

What were precious stones called in the old days?

List of obsolete names for precious and semi-precious stones and rocks consists of the names of minerals that are not currently used in the Russian language (or are used as archaisms).





  • Varakh – a magic stone, possibly cinnabar or red ocher. [3]
  • Varennik – reddish amethyst[3]
  • Veril, verily, virill, verilos – beryl[3]
  • Venisa, vinisa, viniska – garnet (almandine) [3]
  • Vorolith – lapis lazuli
  • Votrixite is an unknown stone mentioned in the myths of ancient Egypt.


  • Garal – old Arabic name for black coral[4]
  • Gelosia – magic stone, apparently colorless corundum or diamond [4]
  • Gemma moon – Latin name for onyx [4]
  • Gerachidem – a magic stone, apparently one of the arsenic minerals, protected against insects [4].
  • Hephaestitis – a magical stone, possibly fossilized ammonites containing pyrite [4] .
  • Hyena – magic stone, apparently chalcedony (agate), opal, cat’s eye and tiger’s eye [4]
  • Giu – the old Tibetan name for turquoise [4].
  • Iron eye – the popular name for hematite [4].
  • Glessum – Germanic-Latin name for amber [4].
  • Gorgonia – Mediterranean coral [4] .
  • Mountain lard – talc (cloudy white, sometimes slightly transparent)
  • Gurmysh grain, Gurmysh grain, gurmitium — pearls[4]


  • Diamond — diamond[5]
  • Diamon — magic stone, unknown [5]
  • Dionysias — magic stone, unknown [5]
  • Dragonite — red coral[5]



  • Zaberzat, zebarzhdat – Indian chrysoberyl of a thick yellow-green color with play and iridescence of rays, or from arm. “Zaberza” – aquamarine (beryl).
  • Zlatoiskr – aventurine


  • Iakinf – hyacinth
  • Ionia – reddish topaz
  • Iskryak – aventurine


  • Calaig – turquoise
  • Carbuncle, carfunculos – almandine (garnet)
  • Karfunkelstein – almandine
  • Kafimsky pearls – from the Genoese city of Kafa (Feodosia)
  • Korolek – coral carved into a spherical shape
  • Flint Savage – rock crystal.
  • Bloodstone – hematite


  • Blue tit – lapis lazuli
  • Lal, lalik (from Arabic l’al) – red stones of “second price”


  • Neelum – kyanite, cyanite (disthene)
  • Nogat – onyx (agate)


  • Dress up – small freshwater pearls [6] .
  • Eagle Stone – clayey brown iron ore of ellipsoidal or spherical shape with a void inside


  • Pandaura – Brazilian quartz with carmine-red titanium oxide in cracks (rutile needles) – according to N. Razumovsky.
  • Pereljavt (from the gr. “very white”) – overflow
  • Pink – red-orange topaz
  • Plasma – heliotrope or chrysoprase
  • Peltrine is a stone mentioned in conspiracies and rituals of various magicians and sorcerers. Most often used to create amulets. Psychics attribute to this stone the properties of a love magnet.



  • Smazan, smolyak, planer – smoky quartz
  • Stroganets, Stroganets — smoky quartz, “shaped crystal”
  • Siberian gopher, dark crystal flux – smoky quartz.



  • Fatiz – presumably hyacinth


  • Whole yates – unknown stone, possibly selenite


  • spinaria – spinel


  • The South (Siberian) – colorless quartz (rock crystal), cut in the form of an insert with elongated facets


См. также

  • List of obsolete names of colors and shades
  • List of fabric types

All precious and semi-precious stones a few centuries ago had completely different names. Now only jewelers and historians know about them. But these words can periodically appear in books – especially when it comes to the works of everyone’s favorite classics Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and others.


This is the most popular mineral for jewelers. After all, it is from it that diamonds are made, which are, in fact, cut diamonds. But in ancient times both were called “diamond”. Even today, many languages ​​have preserved this knowledge. For example, the English word “diamond”, the French “diamant”, the German “diamant”, the Spanish “diamante” and the Italian “diamante” all mean diamond or diamond.

But even earlier, the word “adamant” was used for this mineral, which translated from ancient Greek means “indestructible.” The name is quite telling, since diamond is truly the strongest mineral. And how can one not recall the famous “X-Men” comics and their main character Wolverine. After all, his skeleton and claws were created from a fictional alloy “adamantium”, which could not be destroyed.


Everyone has probably heard the expression “You are my yacht”? Or we often came across this word in books, for example, in “The Little Humpbacked Horse” by Ershov: “The horses neighed and snored, their eyes burned like a yacht.” And it means “beautiful” or “red”, which in ancient languages ​​were also considered synonyms. So today’s garnets and rubies used to be called yahonts.
The word “yakhont” itself has ancient Greek roots and comes from “yakhontos”, which meant the hyacinth flower. This plant has a bright red color and, according to legend, was grown on the blood of the murdered son of the Spartan king.
But the yacht itself also has the scientific name “corundum”. This is a mineral that was valued back in Ancient Egypt. And it is interesting that it is found not only in red, but also in yellow, blue, and green. And all stones obtained from such minerals are today commonly called sapphires. So “yakhont” is not only the ancient name for garnet and ruby, but also for sapphire.


The ancient name for emerald is “smaragd”. And here everything is extremely simple. This name came to us from the Latin language. And in it the word “smaragdus” meant “green”, which simply and directly characterizes the main difference of this gemstone, namely its bright green color.
Interestingly, some languages ​​still retain the historical name for emerald. For example, the famous book “The Wizard of the Emerald City” in Ukrainian sounds like “Charivnyk of the Emerald Mist.”


In the old days in Rus’ pearls were called “Burmitz grain”. Named after the city of Hormuz on the shores of the Persian Gulf, where this precious stone was mined and then transported to our country. By the way, the stone “korolok” or “draconite”, which we today call coral, was often supplied from there.

But pearls also have another ancient name – “pearl”. This word came from the Latin language, and today it is entrenched in English. Thus, the word “pearl” is translated not only as “pearl”, but also as “something exquisite” or “magnificent example”.


In ancient times, several stones belonging to different varieties of quartz were called strugantsy. This is onyx – nogat, and amethyst – dumpling, and agate – babogur, and aventurine – golden spark, and even rock crystal – flint savage. And the origin of the word is explained by the fact that all these stones could be easily processed or, as they said in ancient times, planed.


Topaz used to be called tumpaz, which is generally very similar. The name comes from the island of Topazios, where it was first discovered. But among miners this mineral has the nickname “heavyweight”, since it is found in really large sizes more often than others.


This stone has several ancient (and long-forgotten) names – “kalaig”, “piruz” and “firuze”. All of them are related to the ancient Persian language. Translated, it meant “bringing happiness” or “winning.”


And the last stone on our list is amber, which is a fossilized resin. It was called differently in different countries. So, in France there was a word “amber” or “amber”, which was borrowed from the Arabs. In Germany – “bernstein”, which meant “flammable stone”, as it was easily ignited. In Greece – “electron”, since it has the ability to electrify. And in Rus’ there was a name “alatyr”, which meant “white and flammable stone”.
But the name “amber” most likely goes back to the ancient Lithuanian language. There, this stone was called “zhintaras”, which translated means “to protect”. It is not surprising that it was from this hardened resin that various amulets and amulets were most often made.

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