October Birthstones: Opal & Tourmaline

October Birthstones: Opal & Tourmaline
October – the month when leaves fall, evenings wrap themselves around us, dark and cool; shared by the Zodiac signs of peaceful, fair Libra, and passionate brave Scorpio. It is also shared between two birthstones.

October birthdays are lucky enough to have the choice of two birthstones – the colour shifting opal and tourmaline.

While they are two very different stones, they both feature a kaleidoscope of colours.

Featuring across our fine collections, opal has an unmatched iridescence, flashing different colours across its surface when worn. The Romans regarded opals as the most precious gemstone of them all for this reason.

Arabic legend told of opals containing lightning – theorising that they fall from the sky during thunderstorms; they are now seen as a symbol of hope, purity and truth.

 What’s opal?

There are two types of opal – precious, which displays play-of-colour, and common opal, which doesn’t.

Because of its water content, usually around 6-10%, it is a mineraloid rather than a mineral. The name is thought to be derived from the Sanskrit word “upala” meaning jewel, then the later Greek “opállios” meaning “to see a change in colour”.

Bedouins believed these stones contained lightning and fell from the sky during thunderstorms, while ancient Greeks thought the stone bestowed the gift of prophecy.

Until vast deposits of opal were discovered in Australia in the 19th century, opal was considered a precious stone and was prized by royalty.

Opal acts as an amplifier to ones thoughts and emotions, bringing both good and bad to the surface so they can be dealt with. It also stimulates intuition.

Opal is formed when rain in dry areas, such as Australia’s outback, seep into ancient rock carrying dissolved silica within it. As the water evaporates the silica is left in between layers of the rock where it becomes beautiful opal.

And tourmaline?

Tourmaline gets its name from the Sinhalese (language spoken by the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka) word “tormalli” meaning “stone with mixed colours”. It is a gorgeous looking stone whose colour can shif from vibrant pink through yellow to emerald green in a single stone. Ancient mystics believed that it inspired artistic expression because of the myriad colours it contains.

However, because of its vast range of colours, it was often mistaken for other gems such as rubies or emeralds. The most desirable stones are the deep blue/violet Paraiba tourmalines.

Aside from its beauty, tourmaline has electric charge capabilities, which saw it used for the production of pressure sensitive gauges for submarine sonar instruments during WWII.

Spiritually speaking, this gemstone is thought to be good for those with a broken heart as it encourages love and gently disperses pain. However, the different shades of tourmaline mean particular things to people, as they react intuitively to the colours.