Opal: The Birthstone of October

An opal might look like a dragon egg, but it is much more real than that. It is the birthstone of October. Opal is derived from Greek word “Opallos”, meaning “to see a change of color”. The Greeks believe that opals were formed when Zeus wept tears of joy after he defeated the Titans. They also believed that opals could grant its wearer prophetic powers. It has often been referred to as the Queen of the Gemstones. A roman scholar explained the importance of opal in 75 AD by saying, “Some opali carry such a play within them that they equal the deepest and richest colors of painters. Others…simulate the flaming fire of burning sulphur and even the bright blaze of burning oil.”

The kaleidoscopic play of colors allow an opal to be as red as a ruby, as green as an emerald, as blue as a sapphire and as purple as an amethyst. This is the reason why it is known as the best of all gemstones. Opals are the naturally occurring stones which exhibit different colors ranging from milky white, to black, to showing flashes of orange, green, blue, yellow, red and off course, blue. The true beauty of opal is due to the stark contrast of the base color with the other colors that makes it so unique and different from any other gemstone.

Opal’s compositional formation is mainly non-crystalline silica gel that sinks into the crevices of the sedimentary strata. After a long time (think thousands of years), the natural molding and heating process hardens this gel into a stone, which can then be mined and polished into stones. Opal is made from particles that are tightly compressed together in a spherical arrangement. A good quality opal will exhibit a three-dimensional array of spaces, which is its conventional pattern and what gives it the bright sheen and a radiance that makes it the favorite of many non-conventional brides.

According to legend, opal is said to promote love, friendship and solidarity. It was also used in the ancient times for easing childbirth and bringing success and strength in a battle. It was known as the Wish Stone due to its ability to promote romance and love and to grant the wearer happiness and the realization of their heart’s desires. The most common variety of opals are milky white or just plain white in color. These affordable opals sow a play of colors against their stark and plain background. These colors can appear in flashes, streaks or patches. Green, pink and yellows usually appear in a light or vibrant form and are referred to as “pinfire”.

Just because opal is quite abundant and affordable doesn’t mean that it was not favored by the royalty and the rich and powerful. Queen Victoria especially favored these stones and fell instantly in love with them the moment she saw its intoxicating colors. People have been fascinated by opals for years and now that it has been found on Mars, its appeal has increased more. The Martian Opal is one of the handful of gemstones that have been discovered in space. The opals, which are mined on Earth, come primarily from Australia, at least 95% of them. Opals are beautiful and quite affordable for someone who wants to add gemstones to their jewelry collection without spending too much money.

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