Acrostic Jewelry: Spelling with Gemstones

by Barbara van Look, Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Blame Napoleon.

His empress, Josephine, wanted a unique way to celebrate their courtship and marriage. To that end, her jeweler--the famous Jean-Baptiste Mellerio--created a set of bracelets that spelled out each of their names and the dates of their courtship and marriage. Each letter was spelled using a gemstone ("A" by Amethyst, etc.).

Over the course of the long war against Napoleon's forces, the idea of spelling messages using gemstones crossed the English Channel into London, spreading up and down the British Isles from the Regency period up through the Victorian Age.

In our modern times of public everything, the idea of secret messages in our jewelry is an enticing idea. Acrostic jewelry is making a comeback, with personalizable pieces available from well-known fashion outlets and design houses such as Lulu Frost, Jessica McCormack and Chaumet.

So ... we can blame Napoleon. It'll be our little secret.

The Alphabet of Gemstones

When the French of Napoleon's time spelled out French words in gemstones, they used the French names of the stones as the basis of their words. With the transition to England, there was a shift to using English names of gemstones. These names did not always line up--a complication even more potent today, as old gemstones shed their inaccurate trade names and receive new, more scientifically accurate, labels.

Even then, there are gaps in the standard English alphabet: finding gemstones that start with W, X and Y is difficult (although, "wood" will do for "W" in a pinch). Oddly, Q and U are covered--thank goodness for quartz and Unakite!

Here's our alphabet of gemstones, each usually available on the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads website.

Gemstone Alphabet
Letter Gemstone Options (most common first, alternatives after)
A Amethyst Gemstone

Amethyst
Also: agate variants (blue, blue lace, Botswana, crazy lace, fossil, golden lace, golden leaf, green, moss, tree, white), amazonite, amber, ametrine, ammonite, amphibolite, andalusite, angelite, apatite, aquamarine, aragonite, autumn hickoryite, aventurine, azurite-malachite

B Bloodstone Gemstone

Bloodstone
Also: beryl, blackstone, black silk stone, bone, bronzite

C Carnelian Gemstone

Carnelian or Citrine
Also: calcite, chalcedony, charoite, chrysanthemum stone, chrysocolla, chrysoprase, cinnabar, citrine, coral, corundum, Crazy Horse stone, cubic zirconia, cuprite

D Diamond Gemstone

Diamond
Also: diopside and diopside variants (chrome), dumortierite

E Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

F Fluorite Gemstone

Fluorite
Also: feldspar, fossil, fossil coral, fossil stone

G Garnet Gemstone

Garnet
Also: gaspeite, goldstone (any color), goshenite

H Hemalyke Gemstone

Hemalyke
Also: hemimorphite, hessonite, howlite (white), hypersthene

I Iolite Gemstone

Iolite

J Jet Gemstone

Jet
Also: jade and "jade" variants (African, black, Ching Hai, jadeite, Malaysia, mountain, new, peace, soo chow), jasper and "jasper" variants (African green, Aqua Terra, autumn, blue sky, brecciated, bumblebee, camel, camo stone, dalmatian, dendritic, dragon blood, fancy, flower, green earth, green line, jungle, Jupiter, Kambaba, leopardskin, mocha mint, moukaite, mustang, noreena, ocean, orbicular, peridot, Picasso, picture, polychrome, rainbow, rainbow brecciated, red, red creek, red flake, safari, saguaro, sesame, silver leaf, silver mist, sky eye, snowflake, spiderweb, striped, sunset, Terra Rosa, tiger zebra iron, tigerskin, turtle, Venus, zebra)

K Kyanite Gemstone

Kyanite
Also: kunzite

L Lapis Lazuli Gemstone

Lapis Lazuli
Also: labradorite, landscape stone, larimar, lava stone, lepidolite

M Moonstone (white) Gemstone

Moonstone (white) or Marcasite
Also: magnesite, magnetite, malachite, red "malachite," marble, mica, moldavite, moonstone variants (multicolored, pink flake, rainbow, silver), morganite

N Nephrite Gemstone

Nephrite

O Opal Gemstone

Opal
Also: obsidian variants (golden sheen, mahogany, snowflake), onyx variants (black, striped), opal and "opal" variants (blue, brandy, Coober Pedy, Ethiopian, fire, Gilson, green, honey, Mexican, moss, Peruvian, pink)

P Pearl

Pearl or Peridot
Also: petrified wood, pietersite, pinolith, pipestone, prehnite, purple creek stone, pyrite

Q Quartz Crystal (Clear Quartz) Gemstone

Quartz Crystal (Clear Quartz)
Also: quartz variants (cat's eye, lemon, rose, smoky, snow, solar, tourmalinated)

R Ruby Gemstone

Ruby
Also: rainbow calsilica, rhodochrosite, rhodonite, rhyolite, riverstone

S Sapphire (Blue) Gemstone

Sapphire (Blue)
Also: sardonyx, selenite, septarian, seraphitite, serpentine, soapstone, sodalite, spinel, stichtite, sugilite, sunstone

T Turquoise Gemstone

Turquoise
Also: tanzanite, tektite, tiger iron, tigereye, topaz, tourmaline

U Unakite Gemstone

Unakite

V Vesuvianite Gemstone

Vesuvianite
Also: variscite, verdite

W Wood

Wood

X

N/A

Y

N/A

Z Zircon Gemstone

Zircon
Also: zoisite (may have ruby inclusions)

Making Acrostic Jewelry

There are many forms acrostic jewelry can take: a single piece of jewelry, a pair of earrings, stackable rings or bracelets, necklaces of long messages--and more! Here are different categories of setting types and what length of message each can carry:

Prong and Tension (Wrap) Settings for Faceted Gems, Chatons, Rhinestones and Cabochons

The simplest place to start is with what are commonly called "mother's rings." These multi-stone ring settings can carry traditional messages of AMOR (Amethyst, Moonstone, Opal, Ruby), ADORE (Amethyst, Diamond, Opal, Ruby, Emerald), REGARD (Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Ruby, Diamond) and DEAREST (Diamond, Emerald, Amethyst, Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire, Turquoise)--as well as names and other words! Try our selection of natural, enhanced and synthetic faceted stones for a great starter alphabet!

Four Multi-Stone Rings

Short messages can be conveyed with stacking rings featuring tiny single stones--three rings of Hemalyke™, Iolite and Sapphire spell that you're HIS:

Hemalyke, Iolite and Sappire inlaid single setting rings

Longer messages can be conveyed with necklace settings, with the settings not used for meaningful letters filled with a neutral stone (like black onyx or mountain "jade"). How about a necklace featuring a center spelling Bloodstone, Emerald, Turquoise, Hemalyke--then 1 spacer stone--then Amethyst, Nephrite, Diamond--then 1 spacer stone--then Moonstone, Amethyst, Ruby, Citrine; and filling out the rest of the necklace with white mountain "jade" stones? What a great piece of jewelry for BETH AND MARC on their wedding!

Setting with gemstone

Cabochon and Other Flat Backs (glue on, stone set, dangles/briolettes/drops)

Want different stones than what you've got available as faceted gems and cabochons? Glue-on settings let you use not only calibrated stones, but also freeform flat back components of all shapes.

Fancy Flower Focal

Bracelet

Dangles

Not really a glue-in kind of jewelry maker? Add gemstone bead drops and briolettes to any ready-to-use multi-loop findings to convey messages like JENN (Jet, Emerald, Nephrite, Nephrite), heart drop, SARA (Sapphire, Amethyst, Ruby, Amethyst)--or ask a question like WED (Wood, Emerald, Diamond) ME (Moonstone, Emerald).

Bangle Bracelet

Dione® Add A Bead System

You know what makes acrostic jewelry ultra-simple? Yeah, Dione--just open the end, slide on the bead, close the end. You can easily change messages throughout the day: HUSH (Hemalyke, Unakite, Sodalite, Hemalyke) in the morning before your coffee, SHARP (Sodalite, Hemalyke, Agate, Rhodonite, Pearl) after you get some, and PUB (Pearl, Unakite, Bone) in the afternoon for your destination when you leave work. (You'll never have to worry about that weird guy from the office crashing your girls' night out, again.)

Dione beads

Pavé-Style/Resin-Set

Fill a channel with Apoxie® Sculpt and Swarovski® crystal (or other chatons and rhinestones)--or gemstone chips--that let the colors flow one into another. Or glue flat back components down to a flat surface and fill the space with Magic-Glos®.

Cuff Bracelet

Bead Stringing (stretch and otherwise)

Of course, one of the easiest ways to make acrostic jewelry is simply to string gemstone beads and pearls! You can let the letters run together to conceal the meaning, or separate the words with metal beads, chainmaille clusters, lengths of chain and more. Gemstone beads offer the largest alphabet, too, with letters not available in other jewelry-making components (such as vesuvianite for spelling "LOVE").

Being able to keep private meanings private--when everything seems to be out in public--is an enchanting idea whose time has come again. Acrostic jewelry lets you spell out love, flirt with secrecy, whisper your special day to the world--no one will ever know except you and those you let into the secret.

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