The month of October is represented by two birthstones—opal and tourmaline. Each October birthstone is known for its combinations of and variations in color, giving wearers the flexibility to reflect their beliefs and personal style. An opal gemstone is defined by its shimmering, rainbow-like hue and iridescence, while tourmaline displays a vivid mix of colors that can be seen in a single crystal.
In this October birthstone guide, we will discuss the history, meaning, and care of each gemstone.
History and Meaning of Opal
In Ancient Greece, opal was known as opallios, meaning “to see a change in color,” which is where its name originates. Throughout history, opals have been valued for their rarity. They were used during Roman times and the Middle Ages. Historically, opal has been compared to volcanoes, fireworks, and galaxies and attributed to qualities such as purity, royalty, hope, clarity, truth, and creativity; it’s also used for the 14th wedding anniversary.
Pearlescent opal stones can be pale yellow, brown, pale red, gray, and black. The more vibrant the “play of color” is, the more precious an opal is considered to be.
Where Is Opal Found?
Since 1850, Australia has been the primary source of opal. Later on, discoveries were made in Ethiopia, Mexico, and Brazil, while opal is mined in countries of Central Europe as well as Turkey, Peru, and Madagascar. Opal is made of silica deposits left behind by evaporated water; however, it can be produced in a lab. Man-made opals are stronger, brighter, and smoother, while having the same properties as natural ones.
How to Care for Opal Jewelry
Opals are relatively soft, ranging from 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. An opal gemstone can be scratched by harder gems, so it should not be stored with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, or sapphires. Intense heat and light can damage opal jewelry, which can also be harmed in wet conditions. When cleaning your jewelry, use warm, soapy water and avoid steam or ultrasonic cleaners.
History of Tourmaline
The newer October birthstone, Tourmaline, may be pink, red, blue-violet, emerald green, or neon green. Featuring a dazzling array of colors, this brilliant gem is named from the Sinhalese word toramalli, which translates to “stone of mixed colors”. It comes in so many colors, tourmaline is often mistaken for other gemstones. Being so colorful has given it many meanings; for example a pink tourmaline represents love and compassion, while a green tourmaline signifies courage and strength. Black tourmaline is believed to invoke a sense of self-confidence. Tourmaline may also be given to celebrate an eighth wedding anniversary.
Where Is Tourmaline Found?
Most commonly, tourmaline is found in Brazil. However, it can also be found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar, and other countries around the world. It’s even mined in California and Maine in the United States.
How to Care for Tourmaline Jewelry
Suited for everyday wear, tourmaline is a relatively hard stone, with a Mohs hardness of 7 to 7.5. It tolerates light and most chemicals but heat can damage a tourmaline jewel. For proper jewelry care when cleaning, use warm, soapy water and a soft brush. Ultrasonic or steam cleaners may damage tourmaline.
Contact Jeweler’s Touch
Jeweler’s Touch carries opal, tourmaline, and other jewelry. We can help you find a birthstone ring, necklace, or bracelet or other October birthstone gifts from our inventory or assist in creating custom items. Our Placentia jewelry store is open (and offering virtual appointments, curbside pickup, and delivery services) and conveniently located in Orange County, serving customers in Yorba Linda, Brea, Anaheim, Fullerton, La Habra, and other communities. Call 714-579-1616 for more information and please continue following our informative Birthstone Guide blogs.