September 12, 2023

October boasts two dazzling birthstones - opal with its mesmerizing rainbow hues, and tourmaline in a breathtaking spectrum from pastels to neon brights. Discover the allure of these visually stunning gems and find styling inspiration to honor an October birthday with the perfect birthstone gift.

Opal - The Shimmering October Birthstone

Fiery opal enchants with flashes of color dancing across its milky background. No two opals look the same, reflecting the ever-changing moods of October's fall season.

What is Opal?

Opal is scientifically classified as a hydrated form of silica, chemically similar to quartz with water content. It forms within cracks and voids of host rocks.

As light passes through the aligned silica spheres that make up opal, it refracts and separates into the colors of the spectrum. This phenomenon results in opal's desirable play-of-color, or "fire."

Stones displaying broader flashes rather than small speckles are most valued. Black opal with bright fire against a dark body color is the most precious. The background body color can also be white, light, or reddish.

With a hardness of only 5.5 - 6.5, opal requires protective settings. Doublets joining a thin layer of opal to a matrix base offer more durability.

Explore opal's visually stunning variations

Opal History & Lore

Opal's dramatic flashes fueled wild superstitions across cultures. Arabs believed opal fell from the heavens during lightning strikes. Europeans viewed it as a symbol of hope and purity. Greeks thought opal gave the gift of prophesy and protective powers.

During the 19th century, opal enjoyed widespread popularity. Queen Victoria presented gifts of opal jewelry. Art Nouveau designers embraced its rainbow colors.

Today, astrologers associate opal with planers Uranus and Neptune. It remains October's traditional birthstone and the gem given for the 14th wedding anniversary.

Where is Opal Found?

Australia: Leading producer; black, white, crystal, boulder

Ethiopia: Significant opal source; crystals displaying play-of-color

Mexico: Valuable fire opal in orange-red hues

Brazil: Yellow, blue, green opal

Honduras: Quality black opal from Erandique mine

Slovakia: Opal from historic Dubník mine

Indonesia: Common opal

In Australia's remote Lightning Ridge, miners unearth precious black opal with bright fire deep underground. The rare black opal commands the highest per carat prices of all opal varieties.

Buying Quality Opal

These factors impact opal value:

  • Play-of-Color - More fire and broader flashes are best
  • Body Color - Black and white most valued. Avoid opaque.
  • Clarity - Translucent, relatively inclusion-free
  • Cut - Shapes that maximize play-of-color
  • Carat Weight - Larger fine opal is very scarce
  • Origin - Australian black most prized

Opals with strong fire, clean transparency, larger carat weights and precision faceting have exponentially higher value. Favor opal from ethical sources.

Caring for Opal Jewelry

Delicate opal calls for attentive care:

  • Avoid exposure to heat, chemicals, ultrasonic/steam cleaning
  • Store separately to prevent scratching
  • Clean with warm water and mild soap
  • Examine doublets and triplets for loosening
  • Rehydrate opal occasionally with mineral oil

With simple precautions, opal can deliver lasting enjoyment. Be guided by a gemologist for proper care.

Styling the Magical October Birthstone Opal

Opal's mesmerizing magic inspires unique styling:

  • Art Deco rings with kite shaped black opal accents
  • Vintage opal necklaces evoking 1920s style
  • Marquise earrings framed in delicate diamond halos
  • Stackable bracelets pairing opal briolettes with gemstone beads
  • Rose gold rings with vivid orange fire opal slices
  • Men's opal ornamental lapel pins or hat pins
  • Opal doublet slices mixed into bohemian charm necklaces

Discover beautiful opal to embrace October's most colorful birthstone.

Tourmaline - The Kaleidoscopic October Birthstone

Tourmaline dazzles in a kaleidoscope of spectacular colors to match anyone's taste. With good hardness and clarity, tourmaline makes a perfect birthstone pendant or ring to glow in October's autumn light.

What is Tourmaline?

Tourmaline belongs to the crystal class of trigonal rhombohedrons, like rubies and sapphires. But tourmaline stands apart with its incredibly varied coloring. Within the same gem deposit, strikingly different tourmaline colors can crystallize side by side.

Trace elements like iron, manganese, copper and chromium are responsible for tourmaline's diverse hues:

  • Pink to red - Rubellites owe their lush color to manganese.
  • Blues and greens - Iron causes these cool colors.
  • Violets - Manganese and iron together create violet tourmalines.
  • Neon blues and greens - Copper makes the vibrant paraiba tourmalines.

No other gemstone occurs naturally in such a spectacular range of colors as this birthstone for October. The most coveted are highly saturated red, green, and paraiba tourmalines.

Tourmaline History & Lore

Bright pink rubellite tourmaline was revered in Russian palaces in the early 1800s. However, various tourmaline hues were mistaken for other gems throughout history. Emerald-green stones were confused with emerald, and red tourmaline was once thought to be ruby.

It was not until the 1800s that scientists recognized tourmaline as its own distinct mineral species. Indigenous Andean people called it 'turamali', meaning 'something from the earth'.

Today, tourmaline continues to be regarded as a gift from Mother Earth, radiating positive energy, liberation, and harmony. It remains the modern October birthstone and 8th anniversary gem.

Where is Tourmaline Found?

Brazil: Major source, especially Minas Gerais pegmatites

Africa: Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria - fine paraiba colors

United States: Maine, California - rubellites, greens, watermelon

Sri Lanka: Vivid blues, rubellites

Afghanistan: Small neon pinks and reds

Myanmar (Burma): Red, green, and bi-color tourmalines

Tourmalines crystallize in granite pegmatites and metamorphic rock formations. Certain localities have yielded tourmaline gems with highly localized properties - like the copper-containing, neon blue paraiba tourmalines of Brazil's Batalha mine.

Evaluating Tourmaline Quality

Jewelry-worthy tourmaline possesses:

  • Richly saturated color lacking any grayness or brownish tones
  • Transparent clarity with few eye-visible inclusions when viewed from 6 inches
  • Precise faceting and exquisite polish to maximize color intensity
  • Larger clean stones over 2 carats

Cut quality is especially important, as the correct orientation can unlock the most vibrant color. Paraiba tourmalines surpass all other hues in value per carat when cleanly cut.

Caring for Tourmaline Jewelry

With excellent hardness of 7 to 7.5 and stability, tourmaline makes durable jewelry. Take basic precautions:

  • Use warm soapy water and a soft brush to gently clean tourmaline
  • Avoid significant exposure to ultraviolet light
  • Store tourmaline separately from other gems
  • Avoid dramatic temperature changes
  • Prevent hard knocks, intense pressure, or ultrasonic cleaning

Simple care keeps tourmaline glowing for a lifetime.

Styling the Kaleidoscopic October Birthstone

Tourmaline allows you to accessorize with drama and flair:

  • Pendants with slices of watermelon tourmaline on silk cords
  • Tennis bracelets lined with pink, green and blue tourmalines
  • Cocktail rings with carved rubellites atop enameled leaves
  • Neon paraiba drop earrings set in polished 18k gold
  • Vintage floral brooches with mixed multi-hued tourmalines
  • Modern signet rings with engraved family crests, set with cabochon rubellites

Tourmaline provides a full spectrum of options to find your perfect shade of October's phenomenal birthday gem.

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