Gemma is a gem of a name, meaning 'jewel' in Italian, which has been popular in Britain for decades but has just begun being appreciated here in the past couple of years. It entered the US Top 1000 in 2008 and has already jumped into the Top 500. Why the sudden attention? Could be because it's a more exotic relative of the mega-popular Emma.
Gemma has a long history in Italy; it was the name of the wife of the poet Dante Aligheri. Another modern celebrity who chose it is Catherine Bell, for her daughter born in 2003. Gemma got a lot of notice as the name of the dynamic matriarch character played by Katey Sagal in TV's Sons of Anarchy.
The English equivalent, Jewel, had a comeback in the late 90s, coinciding with the career peak of the single-named singer by that name, but has now faded. But individual gem names, which were all the rage a century ago, are very much having a renaissance. Jade (used by Mick and Bianca Jagger for their daughter back in 1971 and more recently by celebrity chef Giada de Laurentiis as the English version of her own name) is now ranked at #115, Ruby (the celeb choice of Tobey Maguire, Charlotte Church and Gillian Barberie) is #113 and rising fast, and Pearl, picked by Maya Rudolph, is just on the cusp of a comeback.
Middle name Rose has been the soft and sweet go-to middle name of the millennium, used by countless celebs, from Jennifer Garner & Ben Affleck to Nicole Kidman & Keith Urban to the Jon Stewarts. Sylvester Stallone liked it so much he used it for all three of his girls.
Image via US Weekly
UPDATED: This post was updated on October 11 to correct the name of the Katey Sagal show to Sons of Anarchy.