Opals are exquisite gemstones that come in a variety of colors and types. As one of the birthstones of October, it has become famous for its rainbow sheen and its curious properties.
Beloved by royalty across the ages, opals have been featured in the crown jewels of France and the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor. They gained fame with their beautiful colors and supposed properties. The Romans believed them to provide rigor, hope, luck and fidelity and named opals the “queen of gems” because they reflect the entire rainbow. Ancient Arabs believed opals would protect from lightning and grant invisibility while the Scandinavians wore opal to prevent hair from graying. Even more recent historical characters, Napoleon, Shakespeare and Queen Victoria, found opal to be a grand gemstone by giving it as gifts or, in Shakespeare’s case, including it in his plays.
Whatever the ancient peoples believed the properties of opals to be, it is clear that their beauty has remained a constant. They are featured in the birthday month poem for October:
October’s child is born for woe,
And life’s vicissitudes must know,
But lay an opal on her breast,
And hope will lull those woes to rest.
These days, opals are known for granting happiness, faithfulness, loyalty and confidence as well as providing eye-related health benefits to its wearer. These are only a few of the reasons why I love wearing opals. The second reason is that opal is my birthstone!
The name “opal” means “to see a change in color,” which reflects its physical properties of a multicolored sheen. It also comes in a variety of types. The most famous, perhaps, is the white opal. Usually found in Brazil and Australia, its colorful shine makes it a beautiful stone to wear. The most rare and valuable opal is black. This is found almost exclusively in Australia. Other varieties include the blue-green boulder opal and the red-orange fire opals found in Nevada and New Mexico. Finally, there is the gorgeous dendritic opals with stripes of white and gray that are from Madagascar.
Each of these types of opals contain the signature luster with bursts of red, blue and green decorating this beautiful gemstone. I prefer to work with boulder opals because of their unique flare of color amongst the brown background and because they are less fragile. I do carry other opals, though, including green, blue and white opals, some set on a contrasting iron setting. They are all absolutely gorgeous, and, as usual, you can find several on Etsy and at Kress Emporium (downtown Asheville). If you have an opal of your own or you see an unwrapped version in this post that you love, feel free to contact me here for a beautiful custom piece.
To learn about the second birthstone of October, Tourmaline, click here!