Each month of the year has a specific gemstone associated with it. We call these particular jewels birthstones. Many people believe the specific gemstone corresponds to one of twelve months for a reason. What’s more, birthstones date back to the ancient times, even to the Bible. In Exodus 28, Moses determines forth directions for making special garments for Aaron, the high priest of Hebrews.
It is believed that every birthstone has some special properties or characteristics just like people born in a specific month. October has two birthstones: opal, a primary birthstone, representing faithfulness and confidence. The secondary birthstone is tourmaline. Keep reading to find out more about them.
Some historical records state that opal was discovered in Northern Africa around 4000 BC. However, Northern Africa is not the only region where opal was present throughout the history. Modern records show a large deposit was discovered in Australia in the 1850s. to this day, Australia remains one of the biggest sources of opal in the world. This particular deposit was formed after heavy seasonal rains soaked the ground and forced silica deposits through the earth, down to the crevices in rock layers. The deposits developed after the water evaporated.
Other locations where this gemstone is found include Ethiopia, Brazil, Mexico, Honduras, Nevada, Idaho, and the Czech Republic. As Australian deposit is gradually diminishing, the natural or untreated opal is becoming scarce.
The main color of opals is white or black. What makes opals truly unique gems is their kaleidoscope effect. Thanks to this effect, the gem radiates all colors of the rainbow. How does it occur? It is all due to microscopic silica, a crucial segment of opal structure. This component diffracts light in such a way that displays colorful spectrum.
Speaking of microscopic silica it is important to mention that opals which contain this component are called precious opals and they are primarily found in Australia. On the other hand, opals which don’t contain microscopic silica are called common opals.
Besides silica, opals also contain 6-10% water. Water content indicates the gems aren’t as hard as some other stones. In fact, on the Mohs hardness scale opal has a rating of 5.5-6 meaning it is less durable than rubies or diamonds. Proper maintenance and care can help you protect your opal. Make sure you avoid exposing opals to extreme temperatures and direct sunlight. It is also useful to mention opals are ideal for formal, special events.
Opal: symbolism and meaning
According to the Arabic legend, opals fell from the sky during lightning storm. However, the Aborigines believed the creator visited our planet in a rainbow and, then, imparted opals as a gift.
In ancient times, around 100 BC, a Roman scholar called Pliny compared opals to volcanoes and colorful artwork because they can reflect the hues of other gems. Due to kaleidoscope effect and colorful properties of opals, during Middle Ages it was believed these stones give people power and luck.
Tourmaline, from Sri Lankan word tura mali or stone of mixed colors, has a complex composition that features a multitude of minerals. This unique composition makes tourmaline colorful. The color is dictated by trace amounts of some elements.
The stone is considered to symbolize power and protection against negative thoughts and emotions, pollutants, and toxins.
Ancient Egyptians believed tourmaline passed through a rainbow after it emerged through the earth on the surface. After it passed, the stone became so colorful. The earliest records date back to 16th century Brazil, but it was confirmed in the 19th century.
Deposits of tourmaline are located in Australia, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Russia, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Pakistan and the United States.
Tourmaline is harder than opal and rates a 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. This stone is durable and you can wear it every day.
Birthstones for October are opal and tourmaline, both associated with myths about rainbows and well-known for their colorful effects. Opal isn’t as hard as tourmaline but it is ideal for special occasions while tourmaline is perfect for everyday wear.