Octobers's Birthstones Opal & Tourmaline: Fun Facts

Welcome to October! All of you celebrating birthdays this month have two gorgeous gemstones to pick from- opal and tourmaline. Here are some interesting facts about the two gemstones:

Opal Gemstone
  • The stunning opal is one of the birthstones for October (along with tourmaline) and is the gemstone traditionally given on a 14th wedding anniversary. 
  • There’s still quite a bit of discussion over how exactly opals gems are formed, but the general consensus is that they’re formed by rainfall.
  • The Greek word for Opals is Opallios, meaning to see a color change. Opalus, which means precious stone, is the Roman word for opal. The ancient Greeks believed opal gemstones resulted from Zeus' tears of joy after defeating the titans.
  • The Ancient Arabs believed opals came from heaven and that they acquired the play of color from flashes of lightning.
  • Basically, opal birthstones consist of water and silica (the main component in glass).
  • 97% of the world's raw opals come from Australia. Other raw opals are found in opal mines located in the United States, Mexico, Peru and Brazil.
  • The october gem comes in more colors than any other gemstone in the world.
  • The stunning black opals are the rarest and most valuable versions of this gem. Black opal's luxurious colors vary from dark grey to black with fiery flashes of color.
  • Many red fire opals are found in Mexico, hence they are sometimes referred to as Mexican opals.
  • Red fire opals have clear or translucent base colors ranging from yellow to orange with bright flashes of color. In order of value, the most luxurious colors and hence most valuable are red, then orange, green, blue and purple.
  • Fake opals aren't absolutely fake. Fake opals are not completely made of synthetic material. More often than not, fake opal consists of an authentic opal augmented with other non-opal materials.
  • In ancient times, the october gem ranked among the noble gems and was second only to emerald by the Romans.
  • Queen Victoria's favorite gemstone was opulent opal! She had sapphires, rubies and diamonds from across the British empire, but she fell in love with the opulent Opal birthstone's intoxicating shades.
  • The Olympic Australis is an extraordinary & unique Opal that is reportedly the largest & most valuable Gem Opal ever found. The Olympic Australis's with a cost of over $2,500,000 AUD and weighing 17,000 carats is truly remarkable.
  • The Aurora Australia is the world’s most valuable Black Opal. The Aurora Australia with a cost of $1,000,000 AUD and weighing 180 carat is a dazzling stone.
  • In 2008, NASA reported the discovery of opal gemstones on Mars!
  • Metaphysically, opal stones symbolize purity and hope. 
  • Significant or unexpected temperature changes is harmful to opal jewelry. For example, do not go out on a hot sunny day and then go inside of a restaurant or movie theatre where it is chilly. Opal jewelry is fragile and these rapid temperature changes cause them to crack or “explode.”
Tourmaline Gemstone
  • Opal is generally considered the October birthstone, but tourmaline is an alternate gem for the month.
  • Tourmaline is the stone for the Zodiac sign of Leo and the accepted gem for the 8th wedding anniversary.
  • The name “tourmaline” originated from the ancient Sinhalese, a language still spoken by Sri Lankans. It derives from “tourmali,” meaning a precious mixed-color stone or “turamali,” meaning something small taken from the earth.
  • Tourmaline crystal is available in a wide range of colors from black to bluish-black, dark brown, yellow, medium brown, blue to neon blue, lime to dark forest green, red and reddish-purple, yellow, pink, and colorless.
  • Until the 1700s, red and pink tourmaline gemstones were sometimes declared rubies and green versions were sometimes labeled emeralds.
  • While tourmaline gems have been found in parts of Africa and Europe, the most prominent mine locations are in North and South America.
  • It is not uncommon to fill small cracks in tourmaline stones with resin or plastic to improve durability and appearance of the stone for resale.
  • The price per carat of large tourmaline gems is considerably high. However, it’s worth mentioning that these impressive sizes are unusual. In general, the price per carat increases dramatically as the gem pass the 5-carat mark.
  • Many tourmaline crystals exhibit polarity having a different charge at either end of the it, making it magnetic.
  • Tourmaline gemstones utilize the energy of water, the energy of mobility, noiseless strength and refinement. It symbolizes the power of renewal and rebirth. As an element of Feng Shui, tourmaline is kept in the North area of your room or office. Its flowing energy assures a balance in life and career.
  • Jewelry care: Do not wash tourmaline jewelry in an ultrasonic cleaner! You can clean tourmaline jewelry using a mild solution such as gentle dishwashing detergent and water at home. Soak the stone for 10-20 minutes, then wipe gently but firmly with a clean fabric. 

    Do not store tourmaline stones with harder gemstones or other materials that might rub against it and cause damage. Protect it from scratches and sharp blows that could fracture it. Also, prevent large temperature changes that can cause the crystal to shatter (such as leaving it near a heater).