Opals are the primary birthstones for the month of October and they are absolutely gorgeous! So full of rich brilliance…in fact the word opal comes from the Greek word Opallios meaning “to see a flash of color.” Opals are a kaleidoscope of hues because of the way light plays on the stones’ tiny structural imperfections. Milky white opals are created by gas bubbles trapped within the stone, while greens, blues and reds are most often seen in black opals due to the presence of magnesium oxides. One of the coolest and rarest stones is the harlequin opal, a jewel featuring large patches of color reminiscent of a clown’s costume.
Photo Curtesy of Opal Auctions ("Opals of the World")
Opals reflect a sense of innocence and purity. Lore has it that the wearer of an opal is blessed with happiness, loyalty and confidence. This fabulous stone is also said to inspire both dreams and the imagination.
Opals were first found in Australia. They were created when Australia's seasonal rains would become trapped inside a rock. The rain would then carry away the silica within the rock which would eventually dry out and become the opal you see today. Sometimes, the rain would transport the silicate deposit next to a piece of wood, seashell, or fossils and would then have a fossilized object within the opal.
In 2008, NASA discovered opal deposits on Mars!
Brought into the birthstone family in 1952 as an October alternative was pink tourmaline; but over the years all the tourmaline colors have become acceptable. Some of the most popular tourmaline gemstones are bi-colored or tri-colored, with clear color distinctions. For example, watermelon tourmaline, when cut, features a pink center, a white ring and a green outside edge. Some of the even more unusual ones include tiny black specks that resemble watermelon seeds.
Tourmaline is mined around the world with some of most stunning blue stones found right here in the US at the Black Hills of South Dakota. Brazil has given us gemstones in a plethora of colors while Zambia, Nigeria and Namibia are all also big suppliers.
The richness and variety of both stones give those born in October a huge variety of options and look fantastic set in a wide range of metals and designs.
Gifting Opal: Opal is a great choice for October baby's, but it is also the customary 24th wedding anniversary gift.
Opal Care: Opal's are classified with a hardness of 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, making them a more delicate gemstone. One which can crack easily under extreme temperature, dehydration, or direct light. They can also become to saturated so it would be best to take off your opal before you wash your hands, shower, or go swimming. Ultrasonic cleaners and steam cleaners are not recommended for this stone.
Gifting Tourmaline: Tourmaline is also a great alternative to opal for October baby's, but it is also the customary 8th and 38th wedding anniversary gift.
Tourmaline Care: Tourmaline's are classified with a hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale making them a more sturdy stone. Ultrasonic cleaners and steam cleaners are okay to use on these stones.