Double The Luck: Two October Birthstones


 Birth Stone |  By: Mansi Soni 

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Those born in October enjoy the privilege of having two birthstones to their month - tourmaline and opal. Both these gems represent an abundance of possibilities. According to legend, both October birthstones came to the Earth through a journey with rainbows.

The first birthstone for October ‘borns’ is Opal originated from opallios in Greek literally meaning ‘to see a change in colour.’ It was explained in the 1960s by scientists that the distinct “play of colour” Opal has is due to microscopic spheres of silica which diffract the light making various colours of the rainbow. The ones with this flashy characteristic are termed as “precious opals” while their subtle counterparts are termed as “common opals.” Opal began to be synthesized in 1974.

Of the several varieties of Opal in existence, only a rare few such as Fire Opal are known across the world. Opals were discovered in Australia around 1850, and was formed when seasonal rains drenched the dry outback with huge silica deposits underground that carried it underneath rock layers. Once the water vapourized, it led to the formation of Opal.

Australia has produced 95% of the world’s supply of Opal with other countries like the United States, Czech Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Ethiopia and Brazil filling up the remaining supply gap. Opal is even today high in mind; however, the Australian deposits are depleting and the Ethiopian material is making up for the gap in the supply.

Opal’s water content ranges from anywhere between 3% and 21% with the hardness of nearly 6 on the Mohs scale making it a delicate gem that can easily crack when exposed to direct sunlight, extreme temperature or conditions of dehydration.

The world’s largest and most valuable opal, “Olympic Australis,” came from Coober Pedy, Australia in 1956, during the Olympic Games in Melbourne. Valued at $2.5 million in 2005, this gem measures 11 inches long and weighs 17,000 carats (7.6 pounds).

During the Middle Ages, people believed that the opal possessed the powers of each gemstone whose color appeared in its sheen, making it a very lucky stone.

The world’s largest and most valuable opal, “Olympic Australis,” came from Coober Pedy, Australia in 1956, during the Olympic Games in Melbourne. Valued at $2.5 million in 2005, this gem measures 11 inches long and weighs 17,000 carats (7.6 pounds).

While Opal has had an Arabic legend that says opals fell from the sky with lightning bolts, Tourmaline, the other birthstone for October has an Egyptian legend to support its origin story. According to the legend, Tourmaline found its colours when journeying to the earth’s centre from the sky while traversing a rainbow. And, that’s why Tourmaline in it’s various hues has been often been confused with other gems.

Tourmaline was found by the Spaniards in the 1500s in Brazil which was confused as emerald until 1800s when mineralogists found that Tourmaline to be a distinct gemstone.

Tourmaline deposits have been observed in Sri Lanka which were brought by the Dutch East India Company to Europe and realized it’s the same mineral as the Black Tourmaline abundantly found in Germany by the name “schorl.”

In 1890, American green tourmaline became popular with deposits found in California that the Native Americans used as funeral gifts. Around this time, the Chinese market also grew becoming the biggest market for tourmaline. After the collapse of the Chinese government in 1912, tourmaline trade died down with it.

As recently as 1980, Brazilian tourmaline was discovered and tourmaline came back in demand in a variety of hues including neon green, vivid blue and radiant violets. Mines in Paraiba, Brazil produced the best of world’s largest weighing tourmaline.  

It’s rare to find tourmaline in bright colours. In fact, no two tourmaline gemstones are alike, which makes it a unique gift. Darker, towards black tourmaline is priced much lower than its brighter counterparts. Rubelite, pink tourmaline, is one of the most popular choices. It is heat treated to improve colour. Other tourmaline stones are also enhanced for clarity reducing the price.

Read blog: October Birthstones - Tourmaline And Opal: Which One Is For You

The cut for tourmaline is critical because they tend to absorb light down the cyrstal length rather than across. In addition, the colours look different from different directions so the right kind of cut is crucial. The available sizes of tourmaline mined in Paraiba is usually more than one carat but because of colour value and not sizing, the pricing of a small better coloured tourmaline will be higher than a heavier darker tourmaline. 

You can find Opal, Tourmaline and variety of other Gemstones on Try it today.

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gemstones, october birthstones, birthstone