If you or a loved one have an October birthday, you have two amazingly fun birthstones to choose from: opal and tourmaline. Opal’s play of color is reminiscent of fireworks and galaxies, while tourmaline comes in a rainbow of hues. If you love unique gemstones or bursts of color, these two are sure to delight.
According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the opal is the world’s most popular phenomenal gem, thanks to its ‘kaleidoscope of colors’.
It’s credited with having supernatural origins and powers.
Arabic legends say the opal falls from the heavens in flashes of lightening
Romans thought it was the most powerful stone because it contains all of the colors from other gems.
Europeans believed it symbolized hope, purity, and truth.
No two opals are exactly alike. They formed thanks to seasonal rains in arid climates such as Australia’s “outback”.
The showers soaked into ancient underground rock, carrying silica downward. When the water evaporated during dry periods, it left behind solid deposits of silica, which formed opals. Opals have also formed via volcanic activity, such as the initial Shewa discovery in Ethiopia.
There are two main classes of opals, common and precious.
Precious opal contains play of color. There are dozens of varieties of opal, but they fall into these categories:
Crystal or water opal
Opals are mined around the world in semi-desert climates, such as Australia, and other locations such as the Czech Republic, Canada, Indonesia, Brazil, Honduras, and more. While Australia has been a leader in the opal market over the last century, Ethiopia has become the second heavyweight in recent years thanks to a small discovery in 1994, and then critical discoveries in 2008 and 2013.
An opal’s value depends on the amount of play of color, the spectrum and concentration of colors present, clarity, country of origin, and more. As with many other stones such as diamonds, there are synthetic opals that are created in a laboratory and do not offer the same value as natural opals.
In addition to being a birthstone for October, the opal is also used to celebrate couples’ 14th wedding anniversaries!
The opal is a delicate stone and not appropriate for daily wear. Rather, it's more suitable for a cocktail ring, pendants, and earrings that you wear for more special occasions. That said, with the right jewelry designs and cleaning and care, the opal is one of the most interesting gems on the market.
Check out our current opal jewelry!
Tourmaline has a distinctly different look than opal, but it has just as much character and color to offer.
This stone has been used as a gem for many centuries, but was mistaken for other stones such as ruby, sapphire, and emerald. In fact, the name ‘tourmaline’ comes from the Sinhalese word ‘toramalli’, which means mixed gems.
It was recognized as its own species in the 1800s, and increased in popularity thanks to Tiffany gemologist George Kunz.
The tourmaline has one of the widest color ranges of any gem, its color coming from the trace minerals and elements within the stone. Here are some of the varieties you’ll see:
Rubellite (pink, red, purplish red, orangish-red and brownish-red)
Indicolite (dark violet-blue, blue, greenish-blue)
Chrome tourmaline (intense green)
Parti-colored (containing more than one color)
Watermelon tourmaline (pink in the center and green around the outside)
Tourmalines are mined from Brazil, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Burma, Namibia, Russia, and even the United States!
No two tourmalines are alike, which makes tourmaline jewelry great for someone looking for a unique piece or a very sentimental gift.
Tourmaline is also used to celebrate couples’ 8th wedding anniversary.
Here is some of our current tourmaline jewelry.
Gemological Institute of America
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