The October birthstone, the Opal, symbolizes faithfulness and confidence. The word comes from the Latin Opalus, meaning “precious jewel,” and from the Greek word Opallios, meaning “to see a change in color.”
OCTOBER BIRTHSTONE COLOR
Opals are a type of quartz that forms tiny spheres. When light hits the spheres, the colors of the spectrum become visible. In different lights, an opal’s rainbow fragments may shift and change, revealing luminous bright and dark colors for a fascinating display.
BIRTHSTONE FACTS & FOLKLORE
Australian aboriginal tribes believed that opals were the Creator’s footprints on Earth.
Necklaces with opals set in them were worn to repel evil and to protect eyesight.
Opals help to control temper and calm nerves. A dream of an opal means that good luck will come.
Each opal is made of tiny spheres of amorphous hydrated silica; its water content makes it prone to cracking or crazing (many fine cracks). This can happen if the gem dries out, such as might occur when exposed to high temperatures or long periods of low humidity. The gem is relatively soft, with a hardness rating of only 5.5. (Never place an opal in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner: The vibrations can crack the gem.)
An alternate October birthstone, tourmaline, comes in a kaleidoscope of colors; often more than one hue is present in a gem. Bright-color specimens are valued more highly. When heated or cooled, these gems develop an electric charge; the Dutch once used them to remove ash from meerschaum tobacco pipes.
Egyptian legend says that tourmaline received its colors as it passed through a rainbow on its way up from Earth’s core. The gem symbolizes inspiration and once was believed to protect against evil.