There's nothing spooky about opal and tourmaline!
The leaves are changing from verdant green to fiery hues of red, orange, and yellow gold, the air is crisp, and the sweaters are warm...October is upon us. And if you were lucky enough to be born in October you have your choice of two birthstones: opal or pink tourmaline. But why exactly are there two October birthstones and what does each mean? Keep reading to find out!
Why Does October Have Two Birthstones?
It is common for a month to be assigned only one birthstone, so why does October have two? In order to understand this let's first go back to the evolution of birthstones in the first place and how they came to be assigned to their respective month.
When Did the Concept of Birthstones Come About?
The idea of having an assigned birthstone is nothing new. In fact, it can be traced all the way back to biblical times when the breastplate of Aaron was said to be worn by the High Priest of the Israelites when communicating with God. The breastplate was said to be adorned with twelve different gemstones and those gemstones were representative of the twelve tribes of Israel.
500 years after Aaron's breastplate was written about in the bible, a historian named Titus Flavius Josephus connected the famed twelve gemstones with the twelve months of the year and the 12 zodiac signs of the year.
Another few hundred years passed, and St. Jerome of Stridon, after researching the breastplate of Aaron and Josephus's writings, began using the assigned gemstones for Christian religious purposes. By the 8th and 9th centuries, Christians were wearing specific gemstones only within specific months when that gemstone was believed to have heightened powers. This evolved to assigning and wearing a gemstone according to your birth month in the 1600s.
Finally, in 1912, the National Association of Jewelers met to standardize the list of American birthstones. This was no small feat considering it only took us centuries to get to this point!
The Adaptation of Birthstone Standardization
While the history of birthstones is so jam-packed that it is difficult to summarize it in just a few paragraphs, the future seems to be even more detailed. To keep up with the changing times the notion and idea of birthstones is returned to and adapted.
October was assigned the birthstone of opal in 1912. But as time progressed this stone was often seen as too feminine by the public and many were concerned about its durability. In response, in 1952 the NAJ added tourmaline to October's official birthstone list.
All About Opal: October's First Birthstone
October's first birthstone, the opal, is revered for its shifting colors and pearlescent luminosity. In fact, the word 'opal' comes from the Latin word 'opalus', from the Sanskit 'upala' meaning 'precious stone'.
What Are Common Characteristics of the Opal?
The multiple colors displayed in opals come from internal reflections within the stone, as well as external reflections when light hits it. The opal's structure causes this optical effect, which gives it its shimmering appearance and array of colors.
Opals come from two main kinds of rock: volcanic rocks like rhyolite or basalt and sedimentary rocks like limestone or shale. These rocks have been buried deep underground for millions of years so that heat from hot magma (molten rock at temperatures above 700°C) can turn them into glassy slabs with lots of tiny holes in them.
The opal's structure also causes it to be fragile: because it has so many tiny cracks and fissures, it can break easily when dropped on hard surfaces or handled roughly. However, if you treat your opal with care and keep it away from heat sources (such as your stove), you'll be able to enjoy its unique beauty for years to come!
Past Beliefs About Opal
The first October birthstone, opal has been a popular gemstone for thousands of years, with many cultures attributing special powers to it. The Ancient Greeks believed that the October birthstone gave wearers the gift of prophecy while preventing disease. Additionally, the opal was said to be formed from Zeus' tears of joy after winning the battle against the Titans.
Bedouins also believed that the opal came from above, specifically, opal was said to fall from the sky during thunderstorms and held the power of lightning. Indian's believed that the opal was the Goddess of the Rainbows who turned herself into the stone to escape the aggressive advances of other gods and in Australia, aboriginal people were fearful of the opal, believing it to be the Rainbow Serpent.
What is the Spiritual Meaning of Opal Today?
The stunning stone with mixed colors has been considered both a lucky and unlucky stone in the past.
Many believed the October birthstone was unlucky thanks to the unfortunate tale, "Anne of Geierstein, or the Maiden of the Mist” published in 1829 and by Sir Walter Scott. In the novel, Lady Hermione has an opal with an array of colors clasped in her hair that would serve as a mood ring for Lady Hermione. Unfortunately, when the opal was touched by holy water Lady Hermione falls to the ground and soon dies. Although the novel later reveals that Lady Hermione died of poison and not the combination of holy water and opal many never got to that part, and the myth of an opal carrying bad luck was born.
For all of the bad, many cultures and communities choose to view the opal as a symbol of good luck. Today, in addition to (varying) degrees of luck, the October birthstone is symbolic of love and passion and is said to amplify creativity and originality.
The Second October Birthstone: Tourmaline
October's second birthstone, tourmaline, comes in a variety of different colors. However, pink tourmaline often springs to mind when discussing October's birthstone.
Common Characteristics Of Tourmaline
Tourmaline is a type of mineral that comes in many different colors, including green and red. The name tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese word "tura mali," which means "stone of mixed colors."
Tourmaline has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, making it harder than quartz but softer than topaz.
In the past, tourmaline has been confused for other gemstones such as rubies and emeralds. Tourmalines can come in every color and have a wide range of saturation and hue. The most common form of tourmaline is schorl, which presents as a black chubby, and round stone with a flat head.
The most valuable varieties of tourmaline are pink, blue, and green. These stones can be found in Brazil, Africa, and Sri Lanka. Some tourmaline looks like a watermelon, with a green-blue rim around the outside and a bright pink on the inside. These tourmalines are aptly named watermelon tourmaline.
October's birthstone, pink tourmaline gets its vibrant pink hue from boron elements that were near the tourmaline as it was being formed. The more boron atoms there are in the stone, the more saturated its color will be. Pink tourmaline with a lot of boron will be brighter and deeper than pink tourmaline with less boron. Some stones may even have so much boron that they appear red!
Is Pink Tourmaline the Traditional Color for October?
The unofficial tourmaline color for those born in October is pink, however, if another shade of tourmaline calls to you then don't let that stop you. Tourmaline can look good in any fine jewelry piece, regardless of color!
Past Beliefs About the October Birthstone, Tourmaline
Unlike opal which is easily distinguished from other gemstones for its luminous colors, tourmaline has a history of confusion. This hasn't stopped it from being loved by several ancient cultures however as everyone from the Greeks to the Chinese appreciated the tourmalines' stunning hues.
The ancient Greeks believed that tourmaline could protect against evil spirits and was an antidote to poison. The Romans believed that it could heal scorpion bites and protect against nightmares, while the Egyptians thought it could protect them from snakebites and scorpion stings and that the tourmaline received its many colors after it passed through a rainbow as it made its way up from the center of the Earth. The Native Americans also used tourmaline for its protective properties, especially when traveling at night or in dark places. Finally, tourmaline was a popular stone in Ancient China with many Chinese artisans choosing pink tourmaline to carve into.
What is the Spiritual Meaning of Pink Tourmaline?
Like October's birthstone opal, pink tourmaline is a gemstone that represents the ability to love yourself, and it's also a sign that you're ready for a new chapter in your life.
Pink tourmaline is associated with the heart chakra, which is the center of unconditional love and compassion. When you wear pink tourmaline, it helps you develop self-love and compassion for others. It's said that pink tourmaline helps you remember that there's no such thing as "too much" love in this world—and if we could all live our lives from that place of abundant love, imagine how many problems we would solve! The more you love yourself, the more likely it is that your actions will be driven by love instead of fear or doubt.
Pink tourmaline is also associated with creativity and intuition; when it comes to creativity, pink tourmaline helps open up your mind so that new ideas can flow through it easily. It helps you tap into your intuition so that when an idea pops up in your head, you can trust it instead of dismissing it out of hand. This makes pink tourmaline great for artists or anyone who wants to tap into their creative potential but feels blocked by self-doubt or fears.
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Whether you say "October birthstone" and mean opal or tourmaline, you are sure to fall in love with the breathtaking hues and dramatic contrast of both opal and tourmaline. And if you're looking for a beautiful testament to your birth month, consider Olivia Ewing Jewelry.
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