Each birth month is accompanied by a gemstone called a birthstone. Each birthstone has a unique meaning and historical significance. Birthstones became popular in ancient times when civilizations believed that gemstones were incredibly powerful and were thought to bring luck, health, and prosperity.
October has two birthstones, Opal and Tourmaline. According to a legend, both of these birthstones came to earth through a journey through rainbows.
Opal is one of the birthstones for October and is also used as the gemstone for 14thwedding anniversaries. The name “Opal” was derived from the Latin word “upala,” meaning “precious stone.” According to other sources, the name “Opal” originates from the Greek word “opallios,” meaning “to see a change in color.”
Opals date back 50 – 60 million years ago to the Cretaceous period. Ancient people called Opal “the Queen of Gems” because of the colors encompassed in it. Each Opal is one-of-a-kind since they’re as unique as fingerprints.
The ideal Opal displays broad patterns covering the surface, featuring all the colors of the rainbow, including red. Opals are the most individual gemstone. Since Opals boast a kaleidoscopic play-of-color, you can choose one that best suits your color preferences.
Opals are available in 2 main types: common and precious. Like colored diamonds, Opals with higher color intensity are much more valuable. Like colorless Diamonds, the more brilliant Opal is, the more valuable it is.
Opals exist in dozens of varieties, however, Fire Opal and Boulder Opal are among the ones that are universally recognized. Opals are often referred to by their background “body color” – black or white.
As an Arabic legend tells, Opals fell from the sky in bolts of lightning. Australian aborigines believed that the creator came to earth on a rainbow and left these colorful stones where his feet touched the ground. In 75 AD, the Roman scholar Pliny compared Opals to volcanoes and vibrant paintings. As he noted, Opals’ dancing “play” of color could simulate shades of any gems.
People living in the Middle Ages believed that Opals had the powers and colors of each gemstone. These were considered very lucky stones. However, Sir Walter Scott’s 1829 book called “Anne of Geierstein” revolutionized the way people perceived Opals. As a result, people began associating Opals with bad luck. Within a year after the book was published, Opal sales in Europe dropped by 50%.
Opal’s image was revived after Opal deposits were discovered in Australia around 1850. Australia has produced 95% of the world’s supply. However, Opal mines exist also in Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, Ethiopia, the Czech Republic and parts of the US, including Nevada and Idaho.
OPAL AND ITS CHARACTERISTICS
Olympic Australis is the world’s largest and most valuable Opal. It came from Coober Pedy, Australia in 1956, during the Olympic Games in Melbourne. Olympic Australis measures 11 inches long, weighs 17.000 carats (7.6 pounds) and was valued at $2.5 million in 2005.
Scientists discovered the spherical silica structure of Opal in the 1960s and figured out how to synthesize it in 1974. Since then, Opal has become more popular thanks to the recent discoveries in Ethiopia.
Like diamonds, Opals are evaluated by color, clarity, cut, and carat weight, but they also come with other features to take into account:
- Color – Opal quality is based mainly on its color, both the background “body color” and the flashing “play-of-color.”
- Pattern – This is one of the unique factors associated with Opal.
- Clarity – Different Opals have different clarity standards.
- Cut – You can often find fine Opals cut into irregular shapes to emphasize play-of-color. If possible, Opals should be cut cabochon with rounded domes.
Tourmalines are available in a spectrum of colors and color combinations, thus producing a rainbow of colors. Tourmaline is Cranberry red, hot magenta, bubblegum pink, peach and orange, canary yellow, mint, grass and forest green, ocean blue, violet, and more. One multi-color variety of the stones is called “Watermelon Tourmaline” and features green, pink, and white color bands.
The name originates from the Sinhalese (language spoken in Sri Lanka) word “tura mali,” meaning “the stone of mixed colors.” You can find Tourmaline stones with different prices. They’re used for making earrings, pendants, bracelets, rings and serve as an 8th wedding anniversary gift.
Tourmaline can also be colorless. The most expensive ones are the blue indicolite, the green verdelite, and the pink rubellite. Here are the color types:
- Schorl or black Tourmaline
- Dravite or brown Tourmaline
- Elbaite featuring the widest range of gem-quality Tourmaline colors
- Rubellite or red Tourmaline
- Indicolite or blue Tourmaline
- Verdelite or green Tourmaline
- Paraíba or a vividly colored purplish or greenish blue Tourmaline
- Achroite or colorless Tourmaline, which is rare
- Parti-colored Tourmaline featuring more than one color
Tourmaline mines are found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Mozambique, Madagascar, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US (mainly Maine and California).
Black Tourmalines served as talismans for ancient magicians to protect against negative energy and evil forces. According to ancient Egyptians, Tourmaline traveled down the rainbow. That’s why the stone features so many colors.
Even today, many believe that this stone can protect from radiation, pollutants, toxins, and negative thoughts. Like many other gemstones, Tourmaline is believed to strengthen both the body and the spirit, especially the nervous system, blood, and lymph nodes. Also, the stone is viewed as a means of inspiring creativity.
In the 1500s, a Spanish conquistador discovered green Tourmaline in Brazil, which he thought was an Emerald. In the 1800s, mineralogists finally identified Tourmaline as its own mineral species. Thanks to the American Tourmaline deposits, the gem became highly popular.
TOURMALINE AND ITS CHARACTERISTICS
Though there are so many Tourmalines mined around the world, it’s not easy to find a fine gem-quality one featuring bright colors. By the way, the price of the stone can vary almost as much as the color.
Tourmalines’ ability to become electrically charged through heat (pyroelectricity) and pressure (piezoelectricity) is one of their best traits. When charged, the gem turns into a magnet by oscillating and by attracting or repelling particles of dust.
Tourmaline is valued due to its color, clarity, cut, and carat weight:
- Color – Generally, Tourmalines in darker tones that appear black are priced much lower as compared to those in bright colors. Rubellite Tourmaline (in shades of pink or red) is one of the most desirable colors. Green and blue Tourmalines are also popular.
- Clarity – Red or pink Tourmalines usually feature visible inclusions, which can significantly lower the value of other colors.
- Cut – Tourmaline forms in slender, columnar crystals, so many finished gems come with long, irregular shapes.
- Carat Weight – Size is less valued than color.
To know more about the October birthstones, Opal and Tourmaline, and to get a better understanding of how you can choose them correctly, go through the information provided above. If you’re interested in diamond jewellery pieces, including diamond engagement rings, consider turning to Bella Diamonds UK to purchase some of the best diamond pieces in London.