October's Birthstones – Opal and Tourmaline
October has two birthstones. The traditional birthstone is the well-known Opal, and the modern October birthstone, added in 1912, is the Tourmaline. Find out the mystical properties and superstitions surrounding your October birthstones.
What is Opal?
Opal is a stunning natural gemstone displaying a myriad of internal colours on a range of base stone colours. Depending on the environment in which it is found, it can be black opal, milky opal, or boulder opal (generally found in Australia), or fire opal found in South America. It has a history steeped in superstition and lore, going in turn from being considered lucky, to unlucky, depending on who is telling the tale.
There are two types of opal: common opal (potch) can be found worldwide but it is generally dull and doesn't display a huge range of colours. Precious opal is far rarer and extremely valuable. Precious opal displays a 'play of colour', with all the colours of the rainbow refracted in its depths. Most natural 'precious' opal on the market today has been mined in Australia, and opal is Australia's national gemstone.
Interestingly, opal is made up of two elements – silica (from sand) and water. Over millions of years, water dripping through sandstone picks up tiny pieces of silica before becoming trapped in a cavity in the rock where it solidifies and forms opal. Convincing synthetic opals are also available to buy.
Tiffany & Co.'s Gregorian Birthstone Poem, published in 1870, has this to say about October's opal birthstone ...