Pink Tourmaline & Opal. The October Birthstones.
Opal is the primary birthstone for October along with Pink Tourmaline. Many people are unaware that Opal, one of the birthstones for October, is Australia’s national gemstone. Australia mines 95% of the world’s precious black and white opal and offers opals of many varieties used in jewelry, including milky opal, jelly opal, boulder opal, crystal opal and some fire opal.
The name opal derives from the Greek Opallos, meaning “to see a change (of color).” Other history states that the word opal is derived from the Roman term ‘Opalus’. Some believe the word was derived from ‘Ops’, wife of Saturn, the Goddess of fertility. Other references indicate the term was derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Upala’. Opals range in color from milky white to black with flashes of yellow, orange, green, red, and blue. Both of the birthstones for October, the Opal, and the Tourmaline are the most radiant gems in the world market. Both stones exhibit a vibrant spectrum of colors, lending charm, and beauty to the jewelry they are fashioned in. These dual-colored gems are prized across the world and are in high demand for their unique hue combinations and crystal structures.
The Birthstones for October – Opal
Some people think that the Opal is an evil stone and brings bad luck. Ridiculous, of course, but all the credit goes to one man. Sir Walter Scott’s bestselling novel, Anne of Geuerstein, written in 1829, was the story of Lady Hermione, who is falsely accused of being a demoness. She dies shortly after a drop of holy water accidentally falls on her opal and destroys its color. Pop culture of the time interpreted this as a warning to the bad luck that an Opal can bring. The gemstone ceased being consumed. Sir Walter Scott successfully (and unintentionally) destroyed the European opal market for nearly 50 years. The opal market crashed directly following the release of his novel.
Nearly 50 years later, in 1877, an amazing black opal was found in South Wales, Australia, and the opal market was finally revived. These black opals took the world by storm and Australia is in fact, still the principal source of black and white opal. Many do not realize that the myth of the opal being bad luck is not warranted by any sort of evidence or occurrence, or that the discovery of the black opal destroyed these negative notions over 100 years ago.
The Lore of the Opal
Among the ancients, opal was a symbol of fidelity and assurance. Later in history the opal became associated with religious and emotional prayer. It was believed to have a strong therapeutic value for diseases of the eye, and when worn as an amulet, it would make the wearer immune from disease as well as increase the powers of the eyes and the mind. Many people also believed that to the extent the colors of red and green were seen, the wearer would also enjoy the therapeutic powers of those stones – the power to stop bleeding from the ruby and the power to cure diseases from the emerald.
Opal has always been associated with love and passion. It also has a strong association with desire and eroticism. It is a seductive stone that intensifies emotional states and releases inhibitions. But it’s also said to act as an emotional stabilizer. Wearing an opal is said to bring about loyalty and faithfulness.
So were you born in October and think you’re a lover?
The Birthstones for October – Tourmaline
Opal is the primary birthstone for October but the alternate is the tourmaline, a gemstone that exhibits the broadest spectrum of gemstone colors. The tourmaline has been misidentified as rubies, emeralds and sapphires. There’s a very famous tourmaline that is the size of a pigeon’s egg. It belonged to the Russian Empress Catherine the Great and it was long thought to be a ruby. The name of this gemstone is believed to derive from the Singhalese (Sri Lankan) word “toramalli,” a term applied to yellow, green or brown stones. The meaning is “something little out of the earth.”
Tourmaline is a complex aluminous borosilicate mineral built of crystals with complicated aggregations of sodium, aluminum, boron, oxygen, hydrogen and silicon atoms. Other metals are also present within the crystal structure, and are responsible for the characteristic colors of the gemstones. Pink, for example, is due to the presence of manganese, while ferrous iron, chromium or vanadium betray their presence as green gemstones.
Most tourmalines are found in a myriad of colors: yellow, green, red, blue, pink, brown, black. Some even have bi-colored properties. A valued bi-colored variety of tourmaline, found in Brazil, is called the “watermelon.” The outer edges of the gem are green, transitioning to a transparent white zone that gives way to a pink or light red interior.
Tourmaline has an unusual property. When it is warmed or rubbed, it attracts small bits of paper, lint and ash. This occurs because the gem becomes charged with static electricity. In fact, Benjamin Franklin used this gem in his studies of electricity. Maintaining a tourmaline exhibit at museums requires frequent cleaning of the gemstone because heat from lights of the display case create a charge in the stone that attracts dust.
Compared with other gemstones, tourmalines are a relatively recent discovery. Hence, it lacks the rich lore that accompanies many other precious gems. However, among some people, the stone is known as the “peace stone,” believed to dispel fear and make its wearer calm.
Opals, on the other hand, are formed in volcanic rocks near the surface. In sedimentary volcanic ash rock, percolating water in the ground dissolves silica that eventually precipitates to form the opal. The opal is a fragile hydrated silica material, made of submicroscopic silica spheres held together by more silica and water. It is a soft stone, easily altered in appearance by changes in heat and pressure. This mineral contains varying amounts of water within it that determine the appearance of the gemstone. When water evaporates out of an opal, the stone appears slightly smaller and the stress of the evaporation creates cracks on it.
Value Of The October Birthstones
The value of the Opal gemstone depends on several factors – type of stone, body tone, pattern, color bar thickness, colors exhibited, inclusions and brilliance of the stone. Other factors that determine the value of the stone include the size of the stone, cut, polish and karat size of the gemstone.
The value of Tourmaline gemstones is differentiated with colors. The pink and green stones are less expensive. They are easily available and abundant. Neon-blue stones, known as the ‘Paraiba’ are very expensive and are considered rare. The Chrome tourmaline mined in Tanzania and Kenya is also expensive, and less easily obtainable than pink and green stones.
Contact Gittelson Jewelers for you all of your Opal and Tourmaline needs or simply schedule an appointment below. Check out our birthstone jewelry guide, for more information.