We at Patronik Designs present two precious gem profiles. Those born in October enjoy two spectacular birthstones to commemorate their birthdays – opal and tourmaline.
Both October birthstones have endless color combinations and beautiful coloring characteristics.
OPAL BIRTHSTONE MEANING & HISTORY
Opal is the traditional October birthstone. It is believed to have originated from India where it was called upala, a “precious stone” in Sanskrit. The Romans called it opalus. Opals are famous for their shifting colors called “play-of-color.”
Opal symbolizes faithfulness and confidence. Opal has been compared to fireworks, galaxies, and volcanoes. Bedouins believed opal held lightning and fell from the sky during thunderstorms. The Greeks believed opals helped prophesize and protected wearers from diseases. In Europe, opals were a symbol of purity, hope, and truth. Opal was believed to embody the virtues and powers of all colored stones.
OPAL FACTS & FOLKLORE
- Australian aboriginal tribes believed that opals were the Creator’s footprints on Earth.
- Necklaces with opals set in them were worn to repel evil and to protect eyesight.
- Opals help to control temper and calm nerves. A dream of an opal means that good luck will come.
- Each opal is made of tiny spheres of amorphous hydrated silica; its water content makes it prone to cracking or crazing (many fine cracks). This can happen if the gem dries out, such as might occur when exposed to high temperatures or long periods of low humidity.
Opal is also the stone given to celebrate the 14th wedding anniversary.
WHERE IS OPAL FOUND?
Australia is the top producer of opal in the world. Ethiopia, Mexico, Brazil are major sources as well. Deposits have been found in Central Europe, Honduras, Indonesia, Madagascar, Peru, Turkey, and the United States.
Lightning Ridge, a small town in New South Wales, Australia, is famed for producing prized black opal.
White opal is found in the White Cliffs of New South Wales, as well as in Mintabie, Andamooka, and Coober Pedy in South Australia. Boulder opal is mined exclusively in Queensland.
In Ethiopia, the October birthstone is found near the village of Wegel Tena, in Wollo Province. Gems there range in body color from white, yellow, orange, and brownish red to chocolate brown. Some of the opals show play-of-color. Ethiopia’s Shewa Province mines the coveted black opal, as well as orange, white, and crystal opal.
Querétero, Mexico is known for producing fire opal in yellow, orange, and reddish-orange to red, some with good play-of-color.
All of the mining locations are extremely remote and difficult to reach.
OPAL CARE & CLEANING
Opals may be treated by impregnation with oil, wax, or plastic. Opal doublets or triplets are fine slices of opal glued to a base material and covered with a thin dome of clear quartz. This gem is relatively soft, with a hardness rating of only 5.5. As such, they should never be placed in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner as the vibrations can crack the gem.
The safest way to clean this October birthstone is with warm, soapy water. Other cleaning methods might damage the opal or filler material. Note that prolonged exposure to water may weaken the adhesive in opal doublets and triplets. Even natural opals can fracture if exposed to high heat or sudden temperature changes.
To prevent jewelry set with harder gems from scratching the opal, store it by itself. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds are just a few of the gems that can scratch the October birthstone.
We at Patronik Designs can provide safe care of all your jewelry. Opal is a delicate gem that requires appropriate maintenance to ensure its natural beauty. Feel free to bring your opals by our store for inspection and cleaning.