Surprising or not, October has not one birthstone but three: Opal, Tourmaline and Rose Zircon. The first one is the most popular.
Not many know that Opal is actually the national gemstone of Australia which produces most of these more than 95% of the black and white opals and offers large quantities of other precious color varieties.
Genuine opal is suitably cut only as cabochons due to their highly fragile state. The fire opal is a somewhat transparent gemstone that is completely orange-red in color and unlike white opals, can be faceted like regular gems.
Precious Opals are translucent to transparent with tiny flashes of color that refract when light hits them. They tend to change color a bit as you view the gemstone from different angles because the light interference touches tiny cracks in the stone.
The first opals were discovered in what is now Hungary before the Roman Empire appeared. Today’s most popular varieties, the black or gem opal, with brilliant flashes of red, blue, green and gold, were first found in the 19th century in Australia. They’re now exploited all over the world in quarries in Brazil, Mexico, US and Canada.
In ancient times opal was considered to bring the wearer good luck, but in modern times it has been considered unlucky to the wearer, unless this is your birthstone. The ancient Romans felt the value of opal was only second to Emerald and was included as one of the Noble gems.
Over the millennia, Opal symbolized many things. People thought they would ease childbirth pains and bring strength in battle.
In 19th century Britain, thanks to one of Sir Walter Scott’s novel in which the main character dies because of an opal, people considered that this gem would bring bad luck to anyone born in October. This myth was finally busted when Queen Victoria decided to offer the October birthstone to each of her daughters, even if they were born in October or not. Once the mines in Australia were discovered, this gem became more popular than ever.
Today, most people purchase Jelly opals because they are the most affordable. They are transparent to translucent. But the most valuable are the black opals which have a large luminescent spot of bright colors with dark background.
The most common Tourmaline is two-tone in color: the natural crystal is green at one end and pink at the other.
Pink Tourmaline is called the “Stone of Hope.” A genuine, all pink Tourmaline in a fully faceted, 0.5 carat size would cost approximately $120 retail, unmounted of course.
Gem quality Tourmaline crystals are found in Southern California, Maine, Brazil and Madagascar.
Tourmaline comes in numerous shapes and sizes. Depending on its color, it is said to bring good luck, positive energy and romance.
Pretty in pink is where you’ll be in this lovely birthstone for the month of October, the Rose Zircon.
Natural Zircon is a zirconium silicate mineral. The rose color comes from a heat treatment process.
Zircon can be found in India, Australia, Brazil and Florida. But other quantities can be found in Indochina, Sri Lanka and New Zealand as well as southern Norway and Quebec.