October’s Birthstones: Tourmaline and OpalOctober is known as a season of changing colors, festivals, and the pageantry of Halloween, which makes its birthstones wholly accurate choices for the month! Tourmaline and opal alike are widely understood by jewelry lovers as two of the most remarkable colored gems in the world.
Opals have a long history as a mystical stone—those who’ve ascribed magical power to jewels often saw opals as containing all of the powers of other gemstones, including the ability to go unseen. Originally admired by the Sinhalese people, and later by the Dutch and other Europeans, tourmaline’s rainbow hues are also complemented by the surprising electromagnetism of the jewel.
These two stones have been considered curiosities worthy of study for hundreds of years, and their beauty means that when you’re looking to get a gift for your October-birthday loved one, they are exceptional choices.
Characteristics of These October BirthstonesOn a molecular level, tourmaline is one of the world’s most interesting gemstones. A boron-silicate mineral, its structure allows for many different kinds of atoms to become “lodged” in its structure during formation. Scientists currently know of an amazing 33 different variants of tourmaline, and for jewelry lovers, that means that there’s an absolute rainbow of colors available, ranging from blood-red rubellite to neon-blue Paraiba. Another factor that sets tourmaline apart is the fact that it’s frequently available in bi-colored variants. For example, a popular choice for women is the watermelon tourmaline, which boasts a bright green “rind” around a lovely pink center.
This isn’t to say that opal is any less interesting. Rather than a single orderly crystal, opal is what’s known as a “mineraloid,” which is an amorphous collection of molecules that appear like a crystal. Jet, obsidian, pearls, amber, and opal are all considered mineraloids because of this. Opal is hydrated silica, which means quartz that’s been atomically exposed to water. Other minerals captured in the opals during their formation cause different shades, such as black opal or fire opal. The fiery mystery of opal comes from the fact that the stone is actually comprised of thousands of thin sheets of silica stacked on top of one another! These layers capture light and reflect it in many different directions, splitting white light like thousands of prisms.