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October's Birthstones: Opal & Tourmaline

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October's Birthstones: Opal & Tourmaline

The month of October features two birthstones - opal and pink tourmaline. You might be wondering, why does October have two birthstones? Originally, opal was the sole birthstone of the month, but some felt the gem was too feminine and not durable enough, so pink tourmaline was added. Now, the two are considered equal holders of the title of October’s birthstone. Do you have a preference for one of these gems over the other? Maybe you didn’t even know there were two! Read on to learn more about opals and pink tourmaline.

Opal

Opals are best known for the variety of colors that they flash, though they often have a dominant overall color to them, known as the “background” color. They’re created from silica, which holds up to 20 percent water; as the water leaves the material, it creates cracks throughout. They’re technically considered mineraloids instead of minerals because they do not contain a crystal structure. Opals come in precious and common varieties. Precious opals are the stones that show a rainbow of colors, known as iridescence. White and gray are the most common background colors of the opal, but it also comes in green and virtually every other color. The rarest background color of an opal is black. Common opals are also very pretty, though they’re often mistaken for quartz and lack the iridescent color of precious opals.

In Roman times, opals were considered the best of all gems because they contain the colors of every other stone within them; they’ve even received the nickname “the Queen of all gems.” Opals were also thought to be symbols of hope and love. No two opals are the same; each have their own unique pattern of colors and shapes.

Unlike many other gems, opal can be fairly delicate. They’re great for using in earrings or necklaces since those pieces usually don’t receive the same abrasive treatment that a ring does during day-to-day life. It’s a wonderful choice for a birthstone, especially since the gem comes in such a wide variety of colors, making it very versatile.

Opal comes from countries around the world, but it is most commonly exported from Australia, where it was first produced commercially in the late 1800s.

Pink Tourmaline

The other birthstone for October is a gorgeous gem - tourmaline. It is also the gemstone associated with celebrating the 8th wedding anniversary. Tourmaline itself comes in a wide variety of brilliant colors; one of the widest ranges of any gemstone. The color is directly determined by the chemical composition of tourmaline. The pink color comes from manganese. All tourmalines share traces of silicon, aluminum, and boron, but the amounts of these, and various other, chemicals determine the color of tourmaline.

Tourmaline was first discovered in the 1500s; a Spanish conquistador found a brilliant green tourmaline in Brazil and mistook it for an emerald. It wasn’t until the gem was tested in the 1800s that scientists classified tourmaline as its own unique species of minerals. The gem was often mistaken for others; some colors were only discovered in Brazil in the late 1900s! It can be found all over the world in many different countries. 

Pink tourmaline can come in a light pink color with shades all the way through to magenta. The stone represents compassion, love, self-love, joy, and healing and is connected to the heart chakra. It’s believed to be able to help calm anxiety and aid in stressful times. It can easily be featured in a wide variety of jewelry, from pendants to rings; it rates a 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. It’s extremely versatile and holds a lot of special meaning.

If you’re looking for a way to celebrate an October birthday or anniversary, either of these stones can be a great option. They’re both incredibly unique and come in many gorgeous colors!

Stop by Vanscoy, Maurer & Bash Diamond Jewelers here in Lancaster, PA to see what opal and tourmaline jewelry we have in stock. We can also create custom jewelry featuring these stones or special order something for you.