October Birthstone Jewellery

Sunday, 1 October 2023
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October Birthstone

October Birthstone Jewellery

An opal is perhaps one of the most stunning gemstones ever found, and opals are the October birthstone, with its sparkling play of colour and enormous spectrum of hues, is a delight to wear and behold.

The majority – and the finest – of the world’s opals originate in Australia, and their fascinating history dates back thousands of years and continues to the present day.

The opal has long been admired for its unique beauty – even earning it the title of “queen of gems” in William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”.

What is an Opal?

Opal RingWhen water-based silica solutions deposit gel-like substances in cracks and crevices in rocks, opals are formed from the resulting hydrated silicon dioxide. They are frequently discovered next to hot springs or geysers and this natural occurrence happens rather frequently. However the stone that results are often a dull “common opal” with its atoms scattered randomly across the stone, indicating that there is no crystal structure. Check out types of Opals Here

Common opals are available in a wide range of basic hues, but frequently exhibit little to no colour play.

However, gem-quality opals exhibit a play of colour and a well-organized crystal structure. And it is that ‘play of colour’ that makes the opal so prized, not just as birthstone jewellery, but as a unique wearable gemstone in general.

What does ‘play of colour’ actually mean? When light enters an opal, it interacts with its interior structure, and exits the opal in a flash of spectral colours; this optical phenomenon is known as play-of-colour.

Opals can exist in practically infinite variations from one another, and no two opals are ever alike. Even more fascinating is the fact that its appearance will alter as it is shifted under a light source, or the light source is changed, or the viewer’s point of view changes. When wearing the birth stone for the month of October with a ring centred around an opal, it really is possible to get lost in thought watching its colours constantly change and shift.

Where are Opals Found?

opal jewellery

opal jewellery

As we mentioned earlier, most of the world’s current supply of gemstone quality opals are found in Australia. It was first discovered in South America over two thousand years ago, though the first opal deposits were discovered in Australia in the 1840s, and black opal of superior quality was found there in 1877.  Quickly the country became the world’s richest source of this incredible gem.

As the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth, Australian miners continued to discover fresh reserves. Opal mining started in Andamooka in 1930, Coober Pedy in 1915, and Lightning Ridge in 1905.

Up until very recently, nearly 90% of the world’s opals came from Australia. However, in 1994 and 2008, two exceptional Ethiopian opals of high grade were unearthed, and have since joined Australian opals as a primary source of ‘the rainbow gem’, though the vast majority of October birthstone jewellery sold the world over features Australian opals.

What are the Physical Properties of an Opal?

If you are going to choose an October birthstone ring featuring an opal, you will want to know how durable your choice is. The opal is a 5.5 – 6 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making it a relatively soft gem – at least compared with a gemstone like a diamond which ranks a 10, or the sapphire which ranks an 8 – but its silicone nature makes it relatively resilient and as clarity is not a huge issue a well set opal will shine beautifully for many years even if worn in opal birthstone jewellery every day. Check out Opal Formation here.

Opal Colours Explained

Birthstone is October

Birthstone is October

Opals are prized for their vivid colour palette and intrinsic light flashes. The labels given to different types of gem-quality opals by the gemstone industry can be very confusing. When you hear the terms “White Opal,” “Grey Opal,” or “Black Opal,” the labels are referring to the Opal’s background hue, which can make a significant difference to the general appearance of the stone, although any example will display that host of shifting colours which is so special.

Other body colours are also available, and not all opals are opaque. Mali and Peruvian opals are green and pink, respectively, whereas the fire opal exhibits vivid yellows and oranges. When purchasing any opal October birthstone jewellery however, these body colours will certainly be a consideration, but one cannot be said to be better than another.  Choosing the one you personally love is the most important thing.

Are Opals Rare?

Opal is formed from one of the most abundant minerals on the earth, silica, but precious gemstone quality opal is even rarer than diamonds. Due to the infrequent occurrence of the natural processes that produce precious opal, the conditions for its formation have to be just right!

The majority of the opal that miners unearth is common opal, lacking gem colour (at least 95%). We refer to it as potch in Australia. It might be amber, white, grey, or black in colour. Even when a miner discovers an opal that is gem-coloured, most of the material is too thin or sandy to be cut into gemstones. So yes, precious gemstone quality opal is rare!

The most uncommon and expensive variety of opal is the black opal, which has what is referred to as black (or dark) body tonality. All the colours of the rainbow can be found in black opals like their lighter counterparts, but often appear richer and stronger due to those dark body tones.

Lighter opals are just as beautiful, and many prefer the whiter basic tone. When it comes to October birthstone rings they are seen more often, and while not as rare as black opals are just as striking when set in jewellery.

Make sure you look after your opal jewellery.

Opals in History and Myth

Everyone who loves gemstones likes to know a little about the history and myth behind them.

The opal, as an eye-catching jewel, which has carved a route through history and influenced a wide range of cultures and civilizations.  The indigenous peoples of South America were fascinated by the Fire Opal.  When the Fire Opal was first discovered at least 6,000 years ago the gem was revered by the Aztecs, who gave it the name “quetzalitzlipyollitli,” which translates to “stone of the bird of paradise.”

In Ancient India and Persia, the gem was revered as a representation of passionate love. and as a cure-all in Ancient Greece. In Arabian folklore, opals are said to have fallen to earth from the skies in thunderstorms. In Europe, opals have long been prized not only for their beauty, but also for its reputed capacity to amplify the values of purity, hope, and truthfulness.

October Birth GemstoneThe opal’s vibrant colours especially captivated the Ancient Romans, who used the stone to flaunt their wealth and social standing. They obtained their opals from mines in Eastern Europe, outside their borders.

The Roman commander Mark Antony approached another general with an offer to purchase his spectacular opal stone to present it to Cleopatra of Egypt as a symbol of their love. The general, known as Nonius, chose to flee Rome rather than sell it, leaving behind his house and most of his belongings. But he was able to keep his opal!

Shakespeare used the title “queen of gems” for opals and referred to them as “a wonder” in his play Twelfth Night, which he wrote between 1601 and 1602. Napoleon, the French emperor, presented his first wife Josephine with a reputed 700-carat opal that became known as “The Burning of Troy” because of its intense red flashes. Despite the stone’s extensive documentation and widespread acceptance as a genuine gem, it has regrettably, however, been lost to history ever since Josephine’s death in 1814.

In terms of their basic ‘meaning’, opals are assigned as the birthstone for those born in October and are also considered a ‘traditional’ gift for a 14th wedding anniversary. However, they are worn, along with creativity and optimism, opals have also been associated with hope, happiness, love, luck, and innocence.

The stone is believed to aid in bringing one’s suppressed negative emotions to the surface and aiding in their purging too, but in the end opal birthstone jewellery should perhaps best be prized for the fact that it is uniquely beautiful and ever-changing, just like the people who wear it!

Author Bio

Jill Hansen runs Anastasia’s Of Broome and is a highly recognised expert in both the fields of South Sea Pearls and Diamonds. Jill trained in seeding pearls in the Cook Islands by Japanese Pearl Technicians, and established a wholesale pearl business selling pearls all over the world. She pioneered the combination of pearls and diamonds to create Lust™ Pearls, a unique fusion of these two beautiful gemstones. Jill holds the prestigious recognition of being an Antwerp Diamond Broker for selecting and sourcing Diamonds direct from the diamond capital of the world, Antwerp. She is a diamond expert and is happy to use and impart her knowledge to help customers make informed decisions.

Not sure what your birthstone is check out our article on all monthly gemstones here.

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