Opal ~ October's Birthstones
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Opal gemstones captivate with their unique optical characteristics. Opals often exhibit a spectrum of colors called “play-of-color” which is seen in various kinds of lighting. The Roman naturalist, Pliny referred to this in the 1st Century A.D. when he wrote: “For in them you shall see the living fire of ruby, the glorious purple of the amethyst, the sea-green of the emerald, all glittering together in an incredible mixture of light.” Every opal is unique in appearance, which makes them desirable for those who crave individual expression.

Color
Fiery play-of color, but they can also be colorless, opaque, translucent or transparent. The most common and affordable variety is milky or white opal because it shows a play of color against a white opaque background. Color patches or tiny flashes called 'pinfire' are usually light and bright pinks and greens. Jelly opals and crystal opals are transparent to translucent, with a subtle sheen of color dancing through the gem, rather than color patches. The most valuable opals, known as black or gem opals, feature large, luminescent areas of one or more bright colors against a dark background. The most valuable opals, known as black or gem opals, feature large, luminescent areas of one or more bright colors against a dark background.

Origins
Ninety-five percent of the world's precious opal comes from Australia, where it is the national stone. Australia also produces of many varieties used in jewelry, including milky opal, jelly opal, boulder opal, crystal opal and some fire opal. Other sources include Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Ethiopia and Madagascar.
Amethyst belongs to the quartz species and is related to rock crystal, citrine, praseolite (a rare, greenish form of quartz) and chalcedony (or agate).

Durability
Opal ranks 5-6.5 (out of 10) on the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness. Because of their relative softness, opals are rarely faceted.

Enhancements
Some opals may be treated to enhance their color or appearance. Information about any stone known to be treated will be disclosed to the buyer.

Care & Cleaning
Opals are delicate when subjected to heat, temperature and air pressure changes because they contain varying degrees of water. The best way to clean opal jewelry is with warm, sudsy water and a tightly woven microfiber cloth. Steam-cleaning should always be avoided.

Many people are unaware that Opal, one of October's birthstones, is Australia 's national gemstone. Australia not only mines 95 per cent of the world's precious black and white opal but offers opals of many varieties used in jewelry, including milky opal, jelly opal, boulder opal, crystal opal and some fire opal.

Opals have been used for everything from easing childbirth to bringing strength in battle. Long known as the Wish Stone, opal is supposed to promote love and romance and grant wishes and personal happiness.

There was a time, in nineteenth century Britain , when opal was considered bad luck for anyone not born in October. This was largely because Sir Walter Scott, portrayed opal as bringing bad luck and death to one of his fictional heroines, Anne of Girstein. However, Queen Victoria, who adored opals, helped to dispel this notion by giving opals to all of her daughters, whether born in October or not. Thus, opal gained a wider popularity than ever, especially when the brighter gem and black opals from Australia became available.


Information from Jewelers of America


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