Opal is a truly spectacular gemstone that mesmerises with its unique iridescence. This beautiful gem is the birthstone for those born in October and is treasured for its interesting shine and incredible play of colours. It is the unique finish of this gem that made the Ancient Romans regard it as one of their most prized stones.
Today, both the precious and common variety is adored by many and is used throughout jewellery for its intriguing appearance.
Where opal is sourced
Australia is the main place that opal is sourced, with over 90% of the world’s precious opals originating from this part of the world. A limited amount of opal can be found in other countries such as Mexico, Ethiopia and Brazil, however the majority is sourced from Australia’s outback due to the way in which it is formed.
There are three major areas in the outback of Australia where different varieties of opal can be found. Black opal is found in Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, light or white opal is mostly sourced in the South Australian fields of Mintabie, Andamooka and Coober Pedy, whilst boulder opal is more commonly found in Central Queensland.
How opal is formed
It is thought that it can take between 5 to 6 million years to create a 1cm opal. Opal is formed in dry regions, for example Australia’s outback, where rain water seeps down into the crevices in ancient rock. The water evaporates due to the heat, then the silica that is left behind dries out and hardens to form what we know as opal.
Symbolism and meaning of opal
Opal was named the “Queen of gems” in ancient times due to its magical, colour-changing appearance, and was thought to contain the hue of different gemstones. Its name originated from the Greek word “opallos” which translates to mean “to see a change”, this captures the essence of the beautiful colour-changing gemstone perfectly.
For hundreds of years many people have considered opal to be a gemstone of good luck. However, in modern times some claim that in fact the gemstone can be bad luck to anyone not born in October. Opal is thought to bring the wearer’s traits to the surface and has the ability to pick up thoughts and feelings whether they be negative or positive. It is a stone of karma, with an emphasis on the age-old saying “what comes around goes around”.
How to care for opal jewellery
Opal measures between 5 and 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, so compared to the diamond, it has very little durability. With that in mind, it is important to take care of this precious stone. Harsh cleaning products can damage opal so it is best to wash it with warm soapy water only when necessary. This beautiful gemstone can easily be scratched, particularly by more durable gems such as diamonds or rubies, so it is a good idea to store opal jewellery by itself to keep it in pristine condition.
Famous faces born in October
October babies are thought to be sociable, they enjoy making friends and love chatting with their peers. This is probably why there are plenty of famous faces born in this month. Winona Ryder, Kim Kardashian, Ryan Reynolds, Julia Roberts and Katy Perry are amongst the many names who also consider the opal to be their birthstone.
People born in this month are known for their charming personality, decisive nature and kind-hearted soul. They are generally thought to be attracted to competitive individuals and can be easily influenced by others.
Did you know?
- Opal is traditionally gifted when celebrating a couple’s 14th wedding anniversary.
- There are dozens of opal varieties, however, only a few are universally recognised.
- It has been found on Mars and is one of the few gemstones that have ever been discovered outside of Earth.
- Royals adore opals, it was Queen Victoria’s favourite gemstone out of all of the varieties she owned.
If you or a loved one are celebrating your birthday this month why not mark the occasion with a beautiful bespoke piece of jewellery?