October Birthstone Jewelry: Opal and Tourmaline
Those born in October celebrate with not one, but two rainbows! The multitude of hues available for tourmalines and opals really burst with full force thanks to the natural white luster of platinum. Both gemstones require extra care (as many beautiful things do), so beyond pure color payoff, the protective strength of platinum means you and your loved ones will be able to enjoy opal and tourmaline platinum jewelry for legions of fabulous lifetimes.
The Opal: Dazzling with more colors than land and sea combined, opals are likely the only gems to have endured the adoring limelight and condemning shadow throughout their lengthy, fabled history. Comprised of silica and water (with some specimens boasting up to 21% of water by weight), opals belong to a small group of mineraloids due to their lack of crystalline structure. The size and microscopic arrangement of the hardened silica determine the color and quality, and therefore the value of an opal.
Reminiscent of faraway galaxies, opals’ mesmerizing display of colors have made them fierce favorites among jewelry designers and collectors; there are many within the jewelry trade who are such opal devotees that no other gem will suffice! It is said that opals carry the virtues of all other gemstones… perhaps this may be why they inspire such unwavering loyalty.
Derived from the Sanskrit úpala, opals were almost universally considered gifts from the heavens. The Greeks believed they were the tears of Zeus shed after proclaiming victory over the Titans. Ancient Hindus, Orientals, and Arabian nomads thought opals to be symbols of hope—similarly fleeting and unexpected, yet essential as a rainbow after a rainstorm. Hailed as a talisman for the eyes, opals were used to treat ocular ailments, aid in peaceful dreaming, and grant prosperity in matters of the heart.
Then, in 1829, an eclipse: The most popular story of the time, Sir Walter Scott’s Anne of Geierstein, told of a resplendent opal with supernatural powers. Because the novel was introduced in installments, audiences incorrectly assumed before last volume was published that when a drop of holy water falls upon the otherworldly gem, the opal loses all trace of color and its wearer soon dies. By a truly desolate twist of fate brought on by hoards of careless reading, opal sales in Europe dropped by 50% and remained stagnant for several decades. To this day, there are some who still vilify opals and associate them with misfortune and death (although they are oddly unable to explain why)! Queen Victoria was paramount in reigniting opal fervor; soon after she ascended the throne, she became one of the leading collectors in fine opal jewelry.
The Tourmaline: Egyptian legend states that tourmaline traveled from the center of the Earth over a rainbow, adopting all the colors as it arced across the sky. Very fitting indeed that rainbows connect both of October’s birthstones!
Derived from the ancient Sinhalese turmali, the term was initially used to describe all colored crystals originating from Sri Lanka… as a result, tourmalines of the pink and red variety were once thought to be rubies.
Before being recognized for their jewelry potential, tourmalines were a prized household gadget: 16th century Dutch traders dubbed them Aschentrekker or “ash puller,” because the crystals were used to clean smoking pipes! Tourmalines gain the unique ability to become magnetic upon being heated; this incredible characteristic, along with tourmaline’s molecular layout enabling an individual crystal to grow up to 12 feet (while displaying an endless array of colors) make for very powerful gem lore. Tourmalines are said to align all the energies of the body, promote peaceful sleep, enhance the sense of smell, strengthen communication skills, foster understanding and affection, and reduce physical suffering from falls, stress, or abuse.
Add some storied iridescence to your platinum jewelry suite with hypnotic opals and spellbinding tourmalines for a thoroughly unforgettable October (and beyond)!
→ Birthstone jewelry is not just for its designated month: click here to celebrate the perennial favorite, sapphires and platinum jewelry!
Cover image features Featherstone Design.