Getting to Know October Gemstone Better – Opal and Tourmaline
Posted on October 2, 2023
October brings a symphony of change- from summer’s bright, lushness to the mellowed scarlet golden warmth of the fall. The soothing gold color of fall leaves echoes that ends can be stunning, too, and a worthy reason for celebration. From pumpkin spice lattes and Halloween to the fall foliage, October gives us many reasons to rejoice. And to top it all, the month has not one but two sparkling birthstones – Opal and Tourmaline : both just as calm and reassuring as fall itself. Read on as we dive deeper into interesting bits about these birthstones.
Is the Birthstone for October Opal or Tourmaline?
It is BOTH.
October babies get double the gems!
Unlike most months with a single birthstone, October is blessed with two – Opal and Tourmaline. These glistening stones are certainly off the beaten path and speak of the unique attributes of October-born: grounded, charming, and affable!
The earliest birthstone records date to the early 1900s when the National Association of Jewelers of the United States formalized a list of birthstones for each month. Except for three months (March, August, & October) with two birthstones and two months with three birthstones (June & December). Although confusing, two stones for a single month allowed people to choose one over the other based on their tastes and budget.
The oddity of having two birthstones for October has an explanation. The primary birthstone for October is opal. But there were concerns about the durability of this gorgeous stone and its association with feminine features. So, the National Association of Jewelers added tourmaline to opal. As a result, opal and pink tourmaline, specifically, are now recognized as October birthstones.
October Birthstones: Everything You Need to Know
As they say, “October is the opal month of the year….,” we bring to you Opal- the first October birthstone on our list.
Opal is one of the most elegant and regal colored gemstones, loved by royalty for years. The traditional October birthstone has a rich history and much lore around it. Queen Victoria was enchanted by the iridescent glitz of this enigmatic stone, harboring a borderline obsession. A little stroll back in time and we discover even Romans had a thing for opal. According to legend, one Roman Emperor bargained to exchange one-third of his empire for a single Opal. Mark Antony fancied precious opals and left a collection for his beloved Cleopatra.
Opal’s origins can be traced back to ancient Ethiopia. However, Australia dominated opal production in the late 1800s, and Australian opals were first featured on the global market in the 1890s. In the present day, South Australia accounts for more than half of global opal production.
MEANING AND SYMBOLISM
Opal is the primary and most well-known October birthstone, derived from the Greek word opallios, which means “to see a color change.” The modern name of opal is also related to the ancient Sanskrit term Upala, which means “precious stone.” The term “opalus” was also used in ancient Roman culture to mean prized-possession and power.
Opals, whatever name you give them, represent the “dramatic play of color” that has inspired poets and authors to compare them to firecrackers, volcanoes, and galaxies. In Middle Ages folklore and legend, the opal was revered as the bringer of good fortune. The Bedouins (nomadic Arab tribes) believed that this kaleidoscopic gem fell from the sky during thunderstorms, contained lightning, and had the cumulative qualities of all colored stones.
CARE AND CLEANING
The best way to clean opal is with soap and warm water. However, excessive exposure of your opal jewelry to water will destabilize the sealer in opal doublets and triplets. This stone needs maintenance as it scores a 5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Keep it out of direct heat and high temperatures to avoid cracking or fractures.
OPAL FUN FACTS
– A 1 cm length of opal takes at least 5–6 million years to form.
– This gemstone is linked to loyalty, fortune, and self-assurance.
– Opals are given as a gift to mark the 14th wedding anniversary.
– Opals come in two varieties: common and precious.
– The gemstone is available in numerous colors.
– Opal is the national gemstone of Australia.
– Just like diamonds, opals can also be lab-grown.
– The most uncommon variety of opal is black opal.
– The Virgin Rainbow is the most valuable and prized opal in the world.
Ravishing and vibrant, tourmaline was later declared the second birthstone for October.
The discovery of tourmaline occurred in the 1800s when scientists started differentiating this stone from other precious stones. But long before this, in the 1500s, a Spanish explorer discovered green tourmaline in Brazil, mistaking it for the green emerald. In the 1600s or early 1700s, Dutch traders found the stone off the West Coast of Italy for the first time.
The stone’s popularity skyrocketed with the discovery of American tourmaline deposits. In 1876, the green tourmaline was widely advertised as the “American Gem.”
Pink and red rubellites, chrome and neon green tourmalines, and blue-to-violet “paraba” tourmalines are among the most popular colors of this October stone. Tourmalines are also gifted on eighth wedding anniversaries.
MEANING AND SYMBOLISM
The beauty of this stone once inspired poets and artists. Tourmaline was connected to creativity from the Renaissance to the Victorian era. Tourmaline was used as a talisman by writers such as Shakespeare to help them articulate their creative side better.
The stone is also thought to have therapeutic properties. For example, Dutch scientists asserted that placing a tourmaline wrapped in silk against a feverish child’s cheek stimulates sleep. Similarly, the stone was used in Africa to revive people from “the dream of illusion.” Tourmaline was also used as a charm by Aboriginals, Native Americans, and African Tribes to provide “protection from all dangers.”
Based on centuries of folklore, different colors of tourmaline represent different attributes.
Black– Protection and self-confidence
Pink– Compassion and gentleness
Green– Courage, stamina, and strength
Blue– Calmness and stability
Red– Inner strength and wisdom
Brown- Emotional balance
CARE AND CLEANING
With a hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale, tourmaline jewelry is suitable to wear daily. However, be cautious to keep this gemstone away from heat. To clean this October gem, use warm soapy water and a soft-bristle brush. There should be no scrubbing, but gentle brushing is recommended.
TOURMALINE FUN FACTS
– Tourmaline jewelry is perfect to be worn every day.
– The stone shows no fissures or cracks and is less brittle than other gemstones.
– Tourmaline is believed to be laden with spiritual powers that boost self-esteem.
– This is not a traditional birthstone.
– Tourmaline is for people born under the zodiac sign Libra.