What Is The October Birthstone? A Guide To Opal

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October’s birthstone opal is exceptional for a number of reasons. From the special meaning this gemstone is thought to have to its gorgeous and unique coloring, which allows it to seamlessly match just about any outfit in your closet, opal is the birthstone you need no matter when you are born.

Cover photo with loose opals and model with opal necklace

Opal, the October birthstone, is known for its unique myriad of rainbow colors and milky shine. This gemstone’s kaleidoscope of colors is a result of light refraction. Rainwater is absorbed into the gemstone’s structure, and after years of pressure and heat, the water evaporates, and we are left with the gorgeous Opals we know today. The unique coloring of Opals is thanks to this formation.

The Symbolism and Meaning of Opal

Every birthstone has a unique meaning, making birthstone jewelry an extra-special gift, and opal birthstones are no different. It is thought that ancient Greeks believed that opals had the power to make one psychic, while ancient Romans, as well as many Asian cultures, were thought to associate this gemstone with hope and love, as well as fidelity.

Further still, others believed the opal to have healing properties. But that’s not all! Opal is also thought to symbolize creativity.

What Color is the October Birthstone?

Just like the falling leaves of the season, opal can be found in multiple colors. From yellow, red, pink, grey, brown, and even black, this gemstone is best known for the milky white option with rainbow shine. The ability of this gemstone to radiate multiple hues is why it is both so special and versatile.

different colored loose opals

A Brief History of the October Birthstone

The use of Opal as a birthstone goes back as far as the 15th century. Known in India as upala, or precious stone in Sanskirt, upala became opalus in Ancient Rome, also meaning precious stone, and leading to the name we know today. 

In addition to the ancient Greek and Roman beliefs mentioned earlier, Opals have been part of beliefs across the world, with many cultures crediting the gemstone with a variety of powers.

Arabic legends are said to believe the gemstone came from the heavens in the form of lightning. Today, there are those who believe it is unlucky for someone not born in October to sport this gemstone (but we say it’s worth the risk!).

Opals are now primarily found in Australia but have also been discovered throughout the world.

Understanding Opal’s Sensitivity and Fragility

This gemstone is as delicate as it is beautiful. Measuring between 5 and 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, out of 10, this delicate nature is thanks to their composition, being made up of up to 21% water, as well as air molecules. Due to their sensitive nature, one should pay extra attention to ensure its longevity.

different gemstones according to Mohs hardness scale

Practical Tips for Cleaning and Preserving Opal Jewelry

Opals are as delicate as they are unique and beautiful, make sure to follow the tips below to ensure your gemstone stays gorgeous for a long, long time.

  • Store separate from other jewelry
  • Keep safe from high heat & sudden temperature changes
  • Clean using warm, soapy water
  • Do not use harsh cleaning methods
  • Do not overexpose to water

What Are the Other October Birthstones?

October actually has two birthstones. In addition to opal, tourmaline, specifically pink tourmaline, joined the family and is considered the more modern birthstone option. Opal being seen as quite feminine, as well as delicate, is thought to be among the reasons the National Association of Jewelers added tourmaline to the list.

Love the look of tourmaline? Check out our collection of pink sapphires!

FAQs

How rare is a black opal?

Black opals are the rarest color of this already rare gemstone. Found only in a small town in the outback of Australia, the limited origin and availability of this gemstone leads to its being the textbook definition of rare.

Can opal jewelry be passed down as heirlooms?

Of course! This rare and beautiful gemstone makes beautiful heirloom jewelry. However, due to its delicate nature, it is incredibly important to care for it properly to ensure it is available for multiple generations.

Are opals suitable for all types of jewelry?

Yes! Opals look good in yellow or white gold, as well as platinum, making them a fabulous option for whatever jewelry you desire.

Why does October have two birthstones?

Due to the delicate nature of the original October birthstone, Opal, pink tourmaline was added to the gemstones for this month. Other opinions cite the “overly feminine” nature of Opals, but if you ask us opals are beautiful for anyone and everyone!

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With over 10 years of experience writing and editing on a wide variety of subjects, Sarah is a veteran of the content world. Since joining James Allen, she has focused on all things diamonds and fine jewelry with the goal of educating and empowering consumers.

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