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If you were born in the month of October, you have two birthstones: opal and pink tourmaline. Both of these are beautiful stones with endless color combinations, but for the sake of this blog post we are going to focus on opal, since it’s the most popular and is considered the traditional birthstone for October.
Opal is believed to have originated in India. In India it was known as upala or “precious stone.” Others say it came from the Greek word opallios, which means “to see a change in color.” As most gemstones that derived many, many centuries ago, opal has a deep history. Ancient Greeks believe opal bestowed the gift of prophecy and protection, while Europeans believe that opal symbolized purity. People all across the world believe that opal embodied the virtues and powers of all colored stones, making it extra powerful. Opals were first found in Australia in 1850 and since then, Australia has been the primary source for the gem. Other areas of the world such as Ethiopia, Brazil, and Mexico produce different colors of Opals.
Opal comes in an array of colors, each more beautiful than the last. Opal’s get their play of color from microscopic silica spheres that diffract light to display various colors of the rainbow. Oftentimes opals are described by their background body type of white or black. Opals are formed when rain carrying silica deposits underground into cracks between layers of rock. Once the water evaporates, opal is formed. The water content of each opal varies and can range form 3-21%. The opal ranks between a 5.5 and 6 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, making this gemstone very delicate. It can easily be cracked if it’s worn under extreme temperature or direct light for long periods of time. These are things to consider when purchasing a piece of opal jewelry. Each opal is one-of-a-kind as these gemstones all have different coloring and plays on light, making each one special in its own right.
Whether you were born in October and want to proudly wear your birthstone or are celebrating your 14th anniversary, opal is a beautiful way to celebrate the occasion. The most popular way to wear opals are in rings and necklaces, however there are plenty of beautiful opal earrings and bracelets too. At Shreve & Co. we have plenty of opal pieces to choose from. Visit us at our San Francisco or Palo Alto location to find the right opal piece for you!