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Opal and Tourmalines: The Two Colorful Gemstones

Did you know that October's official birthstones are opal and tourmaline? People born in October have two beautiful birthstones to remember their special day. October's birthstone is multicolored, as opal and tourmaline emit a rainbow of colors, making them stand out. These distinctive gemstones offer various jewelry alternatives, from pendants to stud earrings. If you want to learn more about Opal and Tourmaline, or purchase a piece of jewelry featuring either stone, read on.

Why Are There Two October Birthstones?

To standardize birthstones, the National Association of Jewelers decided in 1952 to establish a list of recognized birthstones for each month. This last has been changed to accommodate changes in fashion and the available stones on the market. For example, many individuals believed that the opal in October was very feminine, and there were concerns regarding its durability. As a result, the group decided to incorporate tourmaline. Recently, it was agreed that the October birthstones would be opal and tourmaline.

The Opal: October's Traditional Birthstone

Opals are formed when subsurface water containing silica deposits enters the spaces between rock layers. When water evaporates, a solid layer of silica, a silicon-oxygen combination, is left behind. Opals can contain up to twenty percent water inside their silica structure.

Most people think of opals as black or white, but they can also be red, purple, or orange at their base. The color of the gem's background comes from the chemicals in it.

But the opal is better known for the blue, green, orange, and red flashes that make it look like a kaleidoscope. It is what gives the opal its play-of-color name. Opals' play of color is caused by small spheres arranged in a grid-like pattern. As light travels between the spheres, the light waves bend or diffract. When this occurs, the light waves disperse into all the rainbow colors.

Opal Meanings, Symbolism, and Folklore

  • Some believe the opal name comes from India, where it was called Upala in Sanskrit, meaning "precious stone." Others say it originated in Greek, where opallios intended "to change hue" In ancient Rome, opalus meant "valuable jewel." Pliny the Elder praised the stone's color play, which included every sought-after hue.

  • Nomadic Arab tribes believed opals fell during storms and contained lightning.

  • Ancient Greeks believed that opals granted the gift of prophecy or the capacity to foresee the future.

  • The Romans believed that opal symbolized optimism and purity and that individuals who wore it would be immune to disease.

  • The Olympic Australis opal is the most valuable in the world. It was discovered during the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, and once held the Guinness World Record for the largest opal.

  • Opals are the traditional 14th wedding anniversary gift.

IO Collective Jewelry: Left: Athena Ring in 14kt Yellow Gold with Pave Diamonds and Ethiopian Opal

| Right: Athena Ring in 14kt White Gold with Natural Rubies and Ethiopian Opal

Opal in Jewelry

With a 5.5 to 6.5 Mohs Hardness rating, opals are prone to scratching and are best worn on special occasions. Nevertheless, the versatility and beauty of opal jewelry justify the additional care required to keep it clean and secure. To avoid damage, keep opal jewelry separate from other gemstones.

Tourmaline: Modern October Birthstone

This beautiful stone was discovered in the late 1600s or early 1700s off the coast of Italy. The word "turmali" in Sinhalese is where the name tourmaline originates. The name was given to all the different colored crystals found off the coast of Sri Lanka. The first people who saw green tourmalines thought they were emeralds, and those who saw pink tourmalines thought they were rubies. People used to believe that the jewels in Russian crowns were made of rubies, but now they believe they are made of pink tourmaline.

Tourmaline has been mined in many places around the world over time. Since the 1980s, the Paraba region of Brazil has been a significant player in the tourmaline game, making some of the world's most beautiful stones. Today, there are active mines in India, Australia, Switzerland, the United States, Canada, and areas of Africa.

Tourmaline Meanings, Symbolism, and Folklore

  • The name comes from the Sinhalese (Sri Lanka) word toramalli, meaning "stone with mixed colors."

  • Tourmaline was initially supposed to stimulate artistic expression because it has a hue for every mood.

  • Ancient Egyptians thought the gem traveled over a rainbow on its long trip from the Earth's heart.

  • It has traditionally been associated with friendship, and individuals who wore it were likely to form everlasting relationships.

  • People believe that black tourmaline gives you confidence, pink gives you compassion, and green gives you courage and strength.

  • Tourmalines are the traditional 8th wedding anniversary gift.

Tourmaline in Jewelry

With a Mohs Hardness rating of 7.0 to 7.5, tourmaline can be used in everyday jewelry like rings, earrings, and bracelets. However, heat can damage the stones, so clean them with lukewarm soapy water and a soft brush.

IO Collective Jewelry: Left: Essie Earrings in 18kt Yellow Gold Rosecut Tourmalines, Sapphire, & Garnet

| Right: Sienna Necklace in 18kt Yellow Gold Rosecut Tourmalines

Birthstones have been around for a long time. They connect us to essential parts of society, like religion or customs. Even now, these ideas are still valid. So which stone is your birthstone? Let us know. And if opals and tourmalines aren't your things, check out IO Collective other blog posts. We have full confidence that you will find something to your liking!

You can also shop our Opals and Tourmalines here.


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