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Opals & October

October birthdays unite – this is your post!  Opal is the birthstone for those born in August, and the astrological birthstone for those born under the zodiac sign of Scorpio. (Tourmaline is an alternative natal stone).

The Curious Lore of Precious Gemstones by George Frederick Kunz, mentions the gemstone beryl (fyi – emerald is a beryl, as is aquamarine) as the natal or birth stone for October – but since we already went over emeralds back in May; and aquamarines in March, we will stick to the more modern traditions of birthstones in this post – opal and tourmaline.

There are also flowers associated with the birth months.  The flowers for October birthdays are Hops (yes, the same hops that are used in beer-making!)

Green plant hops

However, further research finds the more traditional birth flower for October to be the calendula –  a species of herbaceous plants that also includes marigolds.

marigolds

I am going to begin with the opal – a delicate gemstone that can be found in a variety of colors.  Opals display a rainbow of colors depending on which angle you view them and many varieties exist.

The word ‘opal’ comes from the Greek word opallios meaning “color change”; derived from the Sanskrit word upala meaning precious stone.

The opal is a delicate gem which plays into its bad rep.  Opals are soft (between 5.5 and 6.5 on the Moh’s hardness scale – for comparison, diamond is the hardest gem – at 10) – meaning these stones are easily scratched. Given that a common component of household dust is quartz (moh’s scale 7) – merely cleaning your opal jewelry can scratch your opal stones.

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Did you know that opals also contain water – usually about 5 to 6%.  If you have ever had an opal from your jewelry collection crack, this characteristic water component could be the culprit.  Opals are also sensitive to sudden changes in temperature.  In low humidity environments or dry climates, opals can dry out and crack. You can take extra care for these delicate stones by storing your opals in a plastic bag with a damp cloth to prevent drying out, and cleaning them with a soft cloth.

The opal is believed to be a symbol of hope and purity, as well as protection form the ‘evil eye’.  It provides the wearer with luck and enhanced vision, and is believed to comprise all the virtues of each gemstone whose color was represented in the color spectrum of the opal.

Next up – Tourmaline.  The name tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese term toramalli – meaning “crystal” or “false diamond”.  Tourmaline gemstones are available in many colors – pink, green, blue…and the list goes on.

Tourmaline gemstones

Gemstone folklore describes tourmaline as a tool to bring insight and intuition. Known for providing the wearer enlightenment, tourmaline also can be worn as a talisman to protect against danger.  Tourmaline is also thought to inspire creativity, and strengthen the body and spirit.

Aside from charts and articles I have collected over the years, the majority of the information for this post (and future posts) comes from a wonderful used book I found on gemstones by George Frederick Kunz.  As I mentioned earlier, this book lists beryl as the gem for October in the poems of the month, while opal is not listed in any month as a natal stone – so I leave you with the poem for October and beryl:

 ‘Sentiments of The Months’:

October

October’s child is born for woe,

And life’s vicissitudes must know;

But lay a beryl on her breast,

And Hope will lull those woes to rest.

When fair October to her brings the beryl,

No longer need she fear misfortune’s peril.

 

What do you think of the folklore and superstition behind opals?  Do you wear opal gemstones?  Let me know in the comments below!

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