Gemstones have always fascinated me. When I was a little kid, I used to collect all these polished gemstones. I learned their names and some of the properties of them, and I think I still have them somewhere. They’re shiny, they’re colorful, and they make nice pieces of jewelry.
The one in the picture above is an alexandrite, which is my favorite gemstone because it’s my birthstone, and it also changes color depending on what kind of lighting it’s in. It’s also one of the main symbols for the fantasy/paranormal series I’m writing called XIII, in which different gemstones have different kinds of powers and the main villain is fascinated by their powers and the wealth that having precious stones implies.
But if you’re writing pretty much anything (short story, novel, play, poem, etc.), it’s important to carefully consider the meanings of each symbol you’re putting into it. Do your research. Sometimes a symbol will have a lesser-known meaning that’s the opposite of the meaning you want to impart in your writing. If you like, you can also give a seemingly unimpressive object a particular meaning of its own and turn it into an important symbol. Plenty of authors do that. Your symbols don’t have to be exotic and unusual all the time. Most symbols are fairly common objects.
It’s also important to not make your symbolism too obvious to the reader, or to have symbols that are too commonplace in literature. Like water. It’s obvious that water can symbolize cleansing or purity or forgiveness or clarity. But you can turn a common symbol on its head by making it mean something different to a particular character. And that is the reason I love symbolism so much – symbols not only tell the reader something about the story itself, but they can also reveal a character’s personality or give strength to a setting.
Symbols carry a lot of weight. Use them sparingly and think deeply about them and their implications before putting them into the story.