October Birthstones: Opal and Tourmaline

Tourmaline Birthstone

Introduction to Opal and Tourmaline

October holds the distinction of being represented by not just one, but two mesmerizing birthstones: opal and tourmaline. Both gems are celebrated for their spectacular display of colors, offering a vast array of choices for those born in this month.

Opal, with its fiery play-of-color, captures the colors of other gemstones, making it a one-of-a-kind spectacle in the gem world. Tourmaline, on the other hand, is renowned for its incredible range of colors. Its name, derived from the Sinhalese term “turmali,” means “stone of mixed colors.”

Birthstone Month October
Birthstones Opal and Tourmaline
Symbolism Opal: Hope, purity, and truth; Tourmaline: Healing, strength, and tolerance
Origins Opal: Mostly found in Australia, Ethiopia, and Mexico; Tourmaline: Found worldwide, best from Brazil, Sri Lanka, and Africa
Mythology and Beliefs Opal: Believed to aid in expressing one’s true self; Tourmaline: Considered a powerful mental healer, turning negative thoughts into positive ones
Physical Properties Opal: Rates 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale; Tourmaline: Rates 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale
Use in Jewelry Both stones are used in various types of jewelry, providing a vibrant array of colors
Care and Maintenance Both can be cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft brush, avoid exposure to harsh chemicals and extreme temperatures
Psychological and Emotional Significance Opal: Associated with creativity, spontaneity, and emotional expressiveness; Tourmaline: Believed to promote self-confidence and compassion
Choosing a Birthstone October offers the vibrant and colorful opal and tourmaline, each with unique symbolic meanings and properties

Origin and History of Opal and Tourmaline

Opal, primarily found in Australia, has a rich and colorful history. The ancient Greeks believed opals were the tears of joy wept by Zeus after the defeat of the titans. They considered the stone a symbol of hope and purity.

Tourmaline was first discovered off the West Coast of Italy in the late 1600s or early 1700s. Its striking colors made it popular in Europe and Asia, with the last Chinese Empress, Dowager Guifei, being a notable admirer of pink tourmaline.

Tourmaline Birthstone

The Mythology and Symbolism of Opal and Tourmaline

Opal, with its spectral delicacy, has often been associated with hope, purity, and truth. Many cultures view it as a symbol of protection, warding off evil and ensuring safety and happiness.

Tourmaline has been attributed with healing powers, believed to strengthen the body and spirit,

particularly the nervous system, blood, and lymphs. It is also supposed to inspire creativity and was used extensively as a talisman by artists and writers.

The Various Facets of Opal and Tourmaline

Opals are judged based on their play-of-color, body tone, brilliance, pattern, and size. The most valuable opals show a broad pattern of color with large, closely packed patches known as “flashes.”

Tourmaline’s value is determined by its color, size, and quality. Paraíba tourmalines are among the most sought-after variants due to their neon blue color, while green and pink tourmalines are also popular.

Green Opal Birthstone

The Physical Properties of Opal and Tourmaline

Opals are softer and more delicate, ranking between 5.5 and 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. They contain up to 20% water and may crack or “craze” under extreme temperature, dehydration, or direct light.

Tourmaline has a hardness of 7 to 7.5, making it suitable for a variety of jewelry types. Its crystals are naturally long and narrow and are often cut as long rectangles or brilliant-cut rounds.

Opal and Tourmaline in Jewelry Design

Opal’s unique play-of-color has earned it a starring role in various jewelry pieces, from vintage to modern styles. Its softness, however, makes it more suited to necklaces, brooches, and earrings rather than rings.

Tourmaline’s wide color range makes it a versatile gem for many types of jewelry. It can be cut into a variety of styles, including emerald, round, oval, pear, and marquise shapes.

How to Care for and Clean Opal and Tourmaline Jewelry

Opals require special care to maintain their beauty. They should be protected from heat and harsh chemicals. Avoid wearing them in situations where they could be scratched or bumped.

Tourmaline should be cleaned with warm, soapy water and a soft brush. Avoid exposing it to heat or acids.

Conclusion: The Lasting Appeal of Opal and Tourmaline

October babies are lucky to have the choice between two distinct and vibrant birthstones. Whether it’s the ever-changing hues of opal or the rainbow-like spectrum of tourmaline, both gems offer an array of colors unmatched in the gemstone world, making October’s birthstones truly something to celebrate.