October Birthstone – Opal

October Birthstone: Opal and Tourmaline

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Opal Color: This gemstone is primarily mined in Australia and stones come in a full spectrum of color. The most common are the milky white and green stones while the red against black are the rarest. Opals are valued by the fire or play of color when looked at from different angles.

Origins: Opals are found in sandstone or clay and mining is done on a small scale with hand-operated machinery and handheld tools. Sometimes a simple pocket knife is the instrument to loosen the opal from its host rock. Deposits of these stones are also found in Australia, Czech Republic, Turkey, Indonesia, Brazil, Ethiopia, Guatemala, and the United States.

Fun Facts:
• The name opal is derived from the Greek word opallos, meaning to see a change of color.
• An ancient Roman historian wrote, “There is in them a softer fire than the ruby, there is the brilliant purple of the amethyst and the sea green of the emerald – all shining together in incredible union.”
• Ancient cultures believed opals were symbolic of confidence, happiness, hope, and innocence. It was also believed that an opal endows the wearer with pure thoughts and faithfulness.
• Sarah Bernhardt, the famous French actress was born in October and never considered she was dressed unless she was wearing opals.
• Opals are the national gemstone of Australia.

Hardness: 5.0 – 6.5

Care: Opals are hydrous and contain high amounts of water compared to other crystalline gemstones. The water contained in the stone contributes to their softness and they do not react well to prolonged exposure to sunlight or heat. Opals also draw moisture from the atmosphere and should not be stored in dehumidified environments such as a bank vault. Never use ultrasonic or steam machines to clean. Use plain soap and water and a soft toothbrush to clean. Be sure to thoroughly rinse and dry all your jewelry after cleansing.

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Tourmaline Color: This stone consists of more color variants than any other gemstone in the world. Usually rich in iron these stones run from black to bluish-black to deep brown. Depending on the trace elements colors can be blue, green, red, yellow, and pink. Crystals can be bi-colored or multicolored and some stones change color when viewed from different angles. Pink tourmaline is a popular alternate for October birthstone.

Origins: Tourmaline is mined in Brazil, Africa, Tanzania, Madagascar, Kenya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the United States.

Fun Facts:
• The stone name is derived from the Sinhalese word turamali, which loosely translated means mixed.
• Tourmaline from Sri Lanka was first introduced to Europe by the Dutch East India Company.
• Pink tourmaline is thought to have a soothing energy that promotes comfort and safety. This type of stone radiates kindness and tolerance.
• The ancient Egyptians believed that tourmaline came in so many colors because it traveled along a rainbow on its journey from the earth to the sun.
• Tourmaline is said to balance male and female energies, conscious and subconscious mind and the left and right brain. No wonder it is the perfect stone for the balanced scales of Libra.
• The largest cut Brazilian Paraiba tourmaline (blue/green) weighs in at 191.87 carats is in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Hardness: 7.0 – 7.5

Care: Tourmaline is a hard gemstone that is resistant to scratching, but it should be protected from sharp blows or sudden changes in temperature. Ultrasonic cleaning should be avoided and the stones can be cleaned with most any commercial cleaner or plain soap and water and a soft toothbrush.