Gem Colors of the Season - Kwanzaa

by on ‎12-26-2017 08:00 AM


The final blog in “Gem Colors of the Season” celebrates the youngest holiday of the season – Kwanzaa. 


Kwanzaa was created in 1966 during the civil rights movement by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University.  During a time of such upheaval, he wanted a way to bring African-Americans together as a community, to celebrate the African-American people, their heritage and their unity as a people.  Thus, Kwanzaa was born!

Kwanzaa isn’t a faith holiday, like Christmas or Hanukkah, but a social holiday much like St. Patrick’s Day which celebrates Irish heritage. It is celebrated from December 26-Jan 1st.  During those seven days, the family lights one candle every night (3 red, 1 black and 3 green).  The 7 candles represent the 7 principles/values of African culture:  Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith.  Much like Cinco De Miao or St. Patty’s Day, there is a whole lot of eating, drinking and celebrating!


As for the colors of Kwanzaa, I imagine the candles might have given them away.  But, just in case you didn’t catch it, the colors are black, red and green. The colors were chosen for very specific reasons: black represents the people; red speaks to their struggle; and green is for the future and hope that comes from their struggle. After reading why these colors were chosen, it was easy for me to pick the gems.  In fact, I feel the stones chose themselves!


The gleaming, beautiful black onyx stood out to represent the “black” of Kwanzaa.  When I think of other black gems – black spinel, hematite, black diamond – they don’t seem fitting for this holiday.  Why?  Because there is something so powerful, so majestic about this deep, rich, gorgeous gem -  just like those who find their heritage to be of Africa.  Onyx is part of the quartz family and is most often found with striations of contrasting colors.  Because of this “banding”, they have been used for thousands of years to carve intricate cameos.



J349942 - Talk about “power” – this ring commands!



J334516 - I love the strength, softness and earthy appeal of these beauties!


Garnet had to represent the “red” of Kwanza.  Garnet is gutsy!  It’s fiery!  It’s passionate! The finest pure red garnets (garnets come in a variety of colors) can rival the King of the Gems – the ruby. So much so, that Egyptian pharaohs, Abyssinian princesses, and other nobility chose them for their jewelry.   As I consider the meaning of “red” for Kwanzaa, I am reminded of the struggle rocks go through to become a gemstone. Rocks take a ton of heat and pressure.  Only the rocks that withstand, and rise, through the heat and pressure become gems. There are three characteristics all gemstones must display: they must be beautiful, durable and rare – just like you!



J349646 - Mark the moment, every day, to celebrate your African roots!



J304175 - Holy cow, I love this necklace from the Artisan Collection, Novica!  It feels real and raw.  It’s you - standing in your essence.


It’s time to celebrate the last color of Kwanzaa – green.  Should it be the diamond, sapphire, garnet, tourmaline?  They do come in green varieties, but, nope. I wanted a stone that touted green, and only green – the peridot!  This gem keeps the “green” of hope alive.  This is an interesting variety of gem in that it only comes in green but displays hints of yellow or brown undertones.  It’s a color that prospers, grows and gives life to ideas, to love, to change – just like Kwanzaa.



J335283 - This is for those who want to effect change in your sweet, soft way.



J350058 - I certainly can’t end this blog without another power piece.  It’s kind, yet room-commanding!


I have no idea what the struggle of my dear African-American friends have faced.  But, I know I was raised to respect, love and cherish people, not color or class.  We are all created in the image of God.  We don’t choose the color of our skin any more than we choose our height or foot size.  But, we can choose how we treat each other.  May we all choose kindness. 


Happy Kwanzaa, Friends!


Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  Since I am a certified gem geek, please ask crazy questions.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll do some digging!


Lots of Love,

Nancy Hornback

QVC Program Host

Graduate Gemologist, GIA


Stay Connected with Nancy:


Facebook: NancyHornbackQVC


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on ‎12-26-2017 09:39 AM

Nancy, I want to thank you so much for the blogs that you have written about the gems for the different holidays!

As I stated previously in reply to your blogs, they have been most informative and taught me a lot that I did not know. You area true professional and I enjoy watching you on the Q.  Happy New Year to you and your family!

on ‎12-26-2017 01:02 PM

Nancy, I applaud all enlightenment, clarity and respect of all nationalities and rituals.  I truly enjoyed your blog and your efforts to shine a light on this special holiday in all its warmth and appreciation. 

on ‎12-27-2017 07:59 AM

I love this blog post. 

on ‎12-27-2017 12:26 PM

Nancy, what a thoughtful, informative post.  Thanks for reiterating that we are all created in the image of God. If we start from there, we see all people with love.


Your jewelry picks to illustrate the colors of Kwanzaa are terrific!

on ‎12-31-2017 01:38 PM
Thank you, Nancy, for such a beautiful post. I hope we can all follow your example, to continue learning and sharing with each other!