People who are born in October are lucky enough to have two birthstones to choose from: opal and tourmaline. Both stones represent a one-of-kind nature with plenty of possibilities, and the chance to find a stone that is a perfect fit for the wearer’s tastes and preferences.
History of Opal
Opals are named from the Greek word “Opallos,” which means “to see a range of color.” The wisdom of that name is evident upon viewing a collection of these stones. Opals are available in a range of colors from white to black, with variations inside that display flashes of red, yellow, orange, green and blue. These color patterns and the background color of the stone make every opal as unique as a human fingerprint and provide depth and complexity that many people find intriguing.
Arabic mythology holds that opals were delivered to Earth by lightning bolts. Australian Aboriginal legends claim that when the great creator came down to earth on a rainbow, opals were left behind in his footprints. Mention of the stones are found throughout history, including when the Roman scholar Pliny compared opals to the powerful visual nature of both volcanoes and paintings. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that an opal could harness the power of any stone whose colors could be seen in the opal, as well as bring luck to the wearer.
How Opals are Formed
Opals are created through a process by which non-crystalline silica gel is collected in crevices found in sedimentary strata. Over time, heat and pressure from the earth harden the gel, forming the multi-colored gems. The particles within the gel harden into spherical arrangements, which is what gives opals their distinct radiance. Most of the world’s opals are found in Australia, although they have been discovered in smaller volumes in many other countries. Olympic Australis, the world’s largest and most valuable opal, worth an estimated $2.5 million, originated in Australia and weighs in at more than 17,000 carats, measuring more than 11 inches long.
History of Tourmaline
Tourmaline is something of a chameleon and has often been mistaken for other gemstones due to its appearance in a wide range of colors. Egyptian folklore claimed that tourmaline gained its spectrum of hues because it passed through a rainbow as it emerged from deep within the earth. Native Americans gave gifts of tourmaline during funeral rites. Spanish explorers found green versions of the stone and brought them home as emeralds. In fact, tourmaline has often been confused with other gemstones and didn’t recognize the gemstone as a distinct mineral species until the 1800s.
American tourmaline gained popularity when Tiffany & Co. began using the stones, and the Chinese took a marked interest in pink versions of American tourmaline in the early 1900s. Tourmaline is mined around the world, but finding vibrant colors of the stone that meet gem-quality standards is rare, making the price of tourmaline variable. Mines in California and Maine have produced some fine tourmalines.
The Formation of Tourmaline
Did you know that tourmaline is the name of a large group of boron silicate minerals? These gems share a common crystallized structure and similar physical properties but have very different chemical composition. The various compositions of the stone are what causes the different color combinations to occur. Colors include shades of black, brown, yellow, green, red, blue and pink. Tourmaline is commonly found in igneous and metamorphic rocks, such as granite, pegmatite and gneiss, but makes up very little of the volume.
Whether you choose opal or tourmaline to represent your October birthday, both can highlight the beauty that is found in diversity and individualism. At Worthington Jewelers, we can help you find o the perfect piece for your loved one! Stop in today to learn more about our available options or for assistance in creating a custom piece of jewelry.