Those who celebrate their birthday in October are lucky to have the opal and tourmaline gems as their birthstone! While there are two birthstones for this month, the more traditional gem of choice is the opal. Opals have never ending color combinations, beautiful characteristics and interesting history!
Our 14 Karat diamond and jewelry experts go over what makes the opal so amazing for those born in the 10th month!
History of Opals
The word opal is believed to have originated from India where it was called “Upala,” or precious stone in Sanskrit. The Romans then adopted it and changed it to “opalus.” Throughout history, opals have been revered because of their unique shifting colors of the rainbow that made writers turn to them for inspiration when describing volcano fire and fireworks.
Bedouin’s believed that opals were lightning caught from the sky, and Aboriginal’s believed that they were the Creator’s footprints on Earth. Ancient Greek’s believed that wearing opals would bring the gift of prophecy and offer protection from diseases.
Europeans from all over believed that opals represented the virtues of patience, purity, hope and truth.
Where can you find opals?
You find most of the world’s supply of opals in Australia. In fact, around 95 percent of the world’s finest opals come from Australia deposits and have been since 1850. Lightning Ridge in Australia is particularly known for opal resources and for producing the highly converted black opals.
Our 14 Karat diamond and jewelry experts point out that opals have also been discovered more recently in Ethiopia, in the Wollo Province. Mexico and Brazil are also important mining countries that people can find opals in.
How Opals form
Unlike other gemstones, opals are not crystalline. This means that the hydrated silica forms as small amorphous spheres instead of a nice crystallized structure. This is what gives the opal its one of a kind “play of color.”
There are a lot of theories surrounding how opals are formed, but no one has a correct answer. There are a few ingredients needed to make an opal that people agree on though, and that is dissolved silica that comes out of a solution and creates an opal.
Cleaning and Care
Our 14 Karat diamond and jewelry experts emphasize the importance of knowing how to clean and care for any opal. Opals can range anywhere from a five to a 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which means it would be best to store your opal jewelry by itself to avoid scratching it with harder gems.
This also means that the safest way to clean opals is with warm soapy water. Other cleaners can damage the stone or the filler material. However, you will want to make sure to avoid constant or excessive exposure to water as that can weaken the adhesive in opal doublets or triplets. You will also want to avoid exposure to high heat to prevent from cracking your opal.
Opals are a beautiful present for someone born in the month of October, or as a 14th year wedding anniversary present! We can help you to pick out the perfect piece from our collection or help you design your own perfect piece. Come and visit us at the Shops of Legacy, 168th and West Center Roads.