Monday, November 7

Polished Jewels

Top, L-R: Bijou, Ibiza, Jolene, Lael, Mieko
Bottom, L-R: Minka, Romy, Tao, Tosca

Just as surely as I know the sky is blue and the sun is really old and really hot, I know I'm not the only weirdo who daydreams about naming nail polishes. Now, I'd be perfectly happy coming up with cutesy things like "I'm Not Really a Waitress," or "Chinchilly," but the Zoya brand has gone a step beyond, venturing into pure onomast territory by assigning real, usable names to each of its polishes. 

Here are a few — 

Bijou — it's the French word for "jewel." Belongs to actress/daughter of famous people Bijou Phillips, whose middle name is Lilly, and who has a brother named Tamerlane. I get a real moneyed-bohemian vibe from this one

Ibiza — the name of a Spanish island in the Mediterranean. Ibiza is full of interesting names —  it was originally called Ibossim by Phoenician settlers, the Romans called it Ebusus, and its name in Catalan is Eivissa. One of its largest cities is named after Saint Eulalia (Eulària in Catalan) and its highest point is a mountain called Sa Talaia. Talaia means "watchtower"

Jolene — a name created in the 20th century by combining elements "Jo-" and "-lene." I am fond of Dutch version Jolijn, though I have a total soft spot for good old retro Jolene, thanks to the brilliant Dolly Parton song

Lael —  a masculine Hebrew name meaning "of God," found in the Old Testament and more commonly used on girls. I like that it's bound by those Ls on each end and has a little criss-cross "ae" in the middle. A woman named Lael Brainard is currently the Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs (felt I should mention that to offset all the Hollywood namedropping in this post)

Mieko — a Japanese name that may be written with the characters for "beauty" and "blessing," and the suffix "-ko," which means "child." So, Mieko could mean "child blessed with beauty." I am drawn to similar Maeko, meaning "truth child." I think "-ko" names are considered old-fashioned in modern-day Japan, but I like many of them

Minka — belongs to actress Minka Kelly. It's her given name, but I think it makes a fun nickname for striking longer forms Jasminka and Yasminka. It's a feminine form of the Frisian name Meine, which is from a Germanic element meaning "strength"

Romy — a diminutive of "Rose-" names Rosemarie and Rosemary. Sofia Coppola has daughters Romy and Cosima, who have the utterly fantastic surname Mars. It's popular with celebrities, apparently — Matt Lauer has a daughter named Romy, and the daughter of Gabriel Byrne and Ellen Barkin is named Romy Marion

Tao — the word tao means "nature," and in Taoism, it refers to the "way," or "path." Tao is a metaphysical concept originating with Chinese philosopher Lao-Tsu, emphasizing the relationship between humanity and the cosmos. I've seen it used as a male name, but I think it works just as well for girls

Tosca — most familiar as the title of the Puccini opera, which was based on French playwright Victorien Sardou's play, La Tosca. In the opera, the main character's full name is Floria Tosca. She is a famous soprano, of course, and on opening night in 1900, she was played by wickedly-named Hariclea Darclée

I love seeing which name Zoya's chosen for each color. It seems a near-synesthetic pursuit. The color must influence the name choice, on some level, don't you think? I mean, look at the perfect bubblegum Parton-pink of Jolene, shown above. That's a great color/name match. Some fall flat, though — I don't think steely grey conveys the depth and nature of Tao, and the dark Ibiza blue seems a little heavy for a popular summer holiday destination.

Just for fun, I've picked two colors for readers to name. What would you choose for these shades? 

I'll reveal their Zoya-names later this week!


  1. With regards to the name Tamerlane you mention, I have a good French friend named Tameline, known pretty much exclusively as Tam.

    As for the two other nail polishes, I think the green one may be something like Apple, or indeed Elfie? As for the other one, my heart is screaming Pearl.

  2. I vote they are called Odilie and Altum, left to right. I love this post!

  3. Darn it, I was going to say Apple and Pearl too!

    Um ... Primavera and Lulu.

  4. Great post!

    I'm going to name the one on the left Zelda and the one on the right Artemis.

  5. These are some beautiful names! I second Bree (Midwinternames), good post. ^^

    As for the nail polish...hmm. I want to say Jade (?) and Zula.

  6. Midori and Lumina/Lumiere.
    That last one looks like bottled light!

    I love Eivissa and Talaia :)

  7. Great post. I'm late to the party, but I would pick

    Crystal Lake (after the Grandaddy song)



    I consider Lake a nice human name choice, and Moonstone a potential middle name.

  8. So funny! Zelda popped into my mind for the green too without even reading the comments yet. For the silver, I'll go with Avalon.

  9. Too literal with Ivy? ...and Svetlana - definitely Svetlana for the white.


Names are all opinion -- share yours.