All About the October Birthstone
October has two birthstones- opal and tourmaline. In this article, however, we will focus on the traditional birthstone for October, the opal. Opal is formed when silicon dioxide and water come into play within the cavities and cracks of near-surface volcanic rocks. Opals are diverse rocks and take on different appearances depending on their formation. Precious opals are popular in opal jewelry thanks to their flashy rainbow colors when moved.
Opal Stone Meaning
As a birthstone, opal represents gentleness, compassion, and calmness. It indicates one is calm yet adventurous. Wearing opal jewelry means one is creative and full of hope and beauty, just like the October birthstone opal.
History of Opal
The name opal originates from the Sanskrit word “Upala,” which means "precious stone."
To the Romans, opals were the cupid’s stone, while Asians believed it to anchor hope. The Polish believed opals made the wearer invisible and were valued by thieves and spies, while the Arabians concluded it simply fell from the sky. In medieval times it was believed that changes in the opal's color would indicate if the wearer was ill or in good health. They believed that the opal bolstered a healthy heart and kept infections away as it cleaned bad air. People believed the opal was causing deaths during the black plague because it turned to a brilliant color when one became infected until death when it would lose its luster.
This perception changed with the coming of Shakespeare in Elizabethan England. He refers to it as the "queen of gems” in "Twelfth Night.” Queen Elizabeth also made opal popular because she loved the gem and gifted it to her children. In one Australian folktale, a pelican pecks at some colored stones, which sets off a fire, and for the first time, people can cook their meat and fish.
Today we also use this gem to celebrate the fourteenth wedding anniversary.
Where in the World is this Gemstone Found or Mined?
Australia, the land down under, is the main source of precious opal or black opal stone in the world. Ethiopia is recently a major contender for top producer of fire opal and precious opal in the world.
Mexico is also quite popular for bright orange, red and yellow fire opals. Other countries producing precious and common opals include Brazil, Hungary, Indonesia, Peri, Nicaragua, Slovakia, Guatemala, and the Czech Republic.
In the United States, Opal deposits have been found in Nevada, Texas, California, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, and Arizona.
Common Factors that Determine the Quality of an Opal.
Just like snowflakes or fingerprints, each opal differs quite noticeably from the next in terms of appearance and quality. An opal is valued and priced per carat. The more the carat size, the higher the value. The type of opal, brilliance, body tone, pattern, color, color bar thickness, and faults in the stone helps determine the opal quality. The size of the stone, polish, and quality of the cut are also put into consideration as the rock is being valued. The most important feature of opal is color, pattern, and clarity, with the black opal being the rarest.
Do Opal Stones Undergo Any Form of Treatment?
As the market for opal grows, dealers keep inventing ways to treat opals of poorer quality so they can drive their sales. Treated opals are as beautiful, but the problem comes when the dealers fail to reveal these treatments. Opals are smoked or bathed in acid as treatment, but no matter the treatment used, the value is reduced
How to Identify a Real Opal?
Man-made opals can be hard to identify if one is not an expert. A genuine opal has deformities that are easily seen under a strong white light. Synthetic opals are too perfect and may even have a 'snakeskin' pattern. A genuine opal has a transparent or milky body tone. You can also see distinctly visible layers on the side of the stone, unlike man-made opals, which are flat. The pricing of the opal should also raise alarms. If it's too cheap, it's probably not genuine.
What is the Most Popular Form of Opal Jewelry?
Thanks to its color, affordability, and brilliance, this good luck gemstone is perfect to own and wear. Opal rings for women, opal stud earrings, pendants, brooches, and opal engagement rings.
The Best Way to Clean and Care for Opal Jewelry.
This is quite easy and only needs special attention and some knowledge about the opal you have. Avoid activities that may scratch your rock as opal is rather soft. You should also avoid low humidity, prolonged exposure to water, and high temperatures as the opal may crack due to the changes in the temperature. To clean your opal, use some warm water and mild detergent and use a soft cloth or brush.
Professional polishing by an opal cutter is also advised to get rid of scuff marks and scratches.
Opal and tourmaline. Opal is the traditional birthstone and is more widely accepted.
Opals with a dark body tone like the black opal are generally more pricey. Bigger opals will also call for a higher price.
Black opal, hands down.
Yes, you can, but care should be taken as they are sensitive to impact and abrasion.
Yes, it can, and it looks amazing with diamond accents.