For all of you October babies, your birthstone brings a treat for you! Not only can choose Opal, the traditional birthstone but you also can choose Tourmaline with its rainbow of colors, just like the Opal!
The Opal derives its name from the Latin word “opalus,” meaning precious jewel. Prized for its unique ability to refract and reflect specific wavelengths of light, the Opal was called “Cupid Paederos” by the Romans, meaning a child beautiful as love. One legendary explanation for this gemstone’s origin is that it fell from heaven in a flash of fiery lightning.
Ancient monarchs treasured Opals, both for their beauty and for their presumed protective powers. They were set into crowns and worn in necklaces to ward off evil and to protect the eyesight. These gemstones were also ground and ingested for their healing properties and to ward off nightmares.
The Opal dates back to prehistoric times. It is a non-crystallized silica, which is a mineral found near the earth’s surface in areas where ancient geothermal hot springs once existed. As the hot springs dried up, layers of the silica, combined with water, were deposited into the cracks and cavities of the bedrock, forming Opal. This gemstone actually contains up to 30% water, so it must be protected from heat or harsh chemicals, both of which will cause drying and may lead to cracking and loss of iridescence. Opal must also be guarded from blows, since it is relatively soft and breaks easily.
Most of the world’s Opal deposits are found in Southern Australia. Other sources of this gemstone are Brazil, Mexico, Czechoslovakia and Nevada. Quality Opal is very expensive, made more so by the caution that must be exercised in cutting, polishing and setting it into jewelry.
A gift of Opal is symbolic of faithfulness and confidence. And the powerful energy radiating from this fiery gemstone will surely illuminate any occasion!
An alternate birthstone for October, Pink Tourmaline has the seemingly magical property of pyroelectricity. Scientifically speaking, this means that when heated, the gem takes on a static electric charge, making it capable of attracting lightweight objects. No wonder this gemstone was revered for its mystical properties centuries ago! Considered the “stone of the muse,” it was believed to stimulate the creative process of its wearer. Pink varieties of Tourmaline range in color from pastel pink to ruby red and are mined in Brazil, Afghanistan, Burma, and India. A gift of this stone is symbolic of hope.