Pop quiz... What’s October’s birthstone? Is it Opal or Pink Tourmaline? If you guessed Opal, you’re correct. But if you guessed Pink Tourmaline, you’re also correct. Confused? Let’s clear that up now…
October actually has two birthstones—Opal and Pink Tourmaline, officially. So, what’s up with that?
Why Does October Have Two Birthstones?
Back in the day (in the 15th century), Opal reigned as October’s birthstone. Then in the 1900s, Pink Tourmaline made its debut as the birthstone for October. Before that, Aquamarine was October’s birthstone. That all led to a bit of confusion.
To clear things up, the National Association of Jewellers decided to create a standardized list of birthstones for each month in the 1950s. The association selected Opal as October’s birthstone. But, over the years, the association adjusted its list of birthstones to reflect the availability of stones on the market.
Some questioned Opal’s durability, while others thought it was too feminine in appearance. So, the association added Pink Tourmaline to the mix, giving those born in October two birthstones.
Because Opal is one of the most delicate stones, it requires special care, and those who don't want to tend to their stone have a beautiful alternative with Pink Tourmaline.
But, what happened to Aquamarine as October’s birthstone? It’s now March’s gem.
What to Know About Opal
What Does Opal Symbolize?
Opulent Opal symbolizes confidence, faithfulness, and hope. The stone shifts in color, reminding us that life is a dance of light, and nothing stays the same.
Folklore About Opals
October's birthstone, Opal is rich in folklore. Since ancient times, the meaning of Opal was considered to enhance creativity and induce mystical vision.
The Aboriginal tribes from the Andamooka region in South Australia believed Opal was born from a rainbow that was brought to earth by the creator of Dreamtime; a term used by Aborigines to describe the relationship between the natural, spiritual, and moral elements of the world.
The legend says that the creator returned to heaven after he conveyed to mankind his hopes for eternal peace. The rock he stood upon absorbed all the colors of the rainbow and turned it into a beautiful Opal.
The Romans associated Opal with fidelity, hope, and purity, while the early Greeks believed it could foretell the future. East Asians revered it as a sacred stone and the Arabs believed it came from heaven.
Opal’s popularity dwindled considerably when author Sir Walter Scott’s novel Anne of Geierstein was published in 1829. The story gave the impression that Opal was demonic and that wearing it would bring bad luck. This book is credited for causing the Opal market to crash and the gem’s price to drop by almost 50 percent.
But the Opal regained popularity when Queen Victoria of England poked fun at the superstitions about the stone. The Queen adored Opals so much that she gifted them to her daughters as wedding gifts.
Opal is a semi-precious gemstone that is coveted for its play of color, which has often been compared to a rainbow, the galaxy, and fireworks. It's certainly a beautiful choice for October's birthstone.
The term ‘play-of-color’ can be described as an optical phenomenon that causes the gem to flash various hues and patterns when it is moved or due to a reaction with light. This characteristic makes each Opal unique.
A relative of Quartz, Opal’s chemical composition includes millions of tiny, amorphous silica spheres that cause the stone to diffract light and take on numerous colors from different angles.
Opal is a fairly soft stone that dries out when damaged by steam, ultrasonic cleaning machines, high heat, and harsh chemicals. So Obviously, you should keep your Opal from these things.
The best way to clean an Opal is with a soft, untreated, damp cloth and mild soapy water. Do not submerge the Opal in water. Simply wipe it with a cloth. Gently pat dry and be sure it is completely dry before storing or wearing.
Store Opal jewelry away from other jewelry, metals, and harder gemstones that can cause damage to softer stones
The Scoop on Pink Tourmaline
What Does Pink Tourmaline Symbolize?
October's birthstone, Pink Tourmaline promotes kindness, peace, and sweet serenity. From helping us overcome heartbreak to finding joy in the simple things in life, we can count on Pink Tourmaline to heal the heart center.
Meaning of Pink Tourmaline Throughout Time
According to ancient folklore, people believed that a Tourmaline traveled over the rainbow and gathered its beautiful colors during the journey. Over time, different cultures attached other meanings to the stone.
In ancient India, Tourmalines were used in various ceremonies to awaken insight and to help a person differentiate between good and bad. African civilization considered Tourmaline to have the power to provide relief from disillusion and enhance mental clarity.
Because Tourmaline has pyroelectric properties (the ability to generate electricity when heated), ancient alchemists linked it to the philosopher’s stone. The ancients thought this property gave them the power to reconcile disputes, grant enlightenment, and change base metals to gold.
People also credited the gemstone for expanding creativity, so artists and writers used it extensively as a talisman.
Still today, Native Americans, tribes in Africa, and aboriginal groups in Australia use Tourmaline to protect them from danger.
Properties of Pink Tourmaline
Tourmaline is a semi-precious stone cherished for its extensive color spectrum. It’s believed to have derived its name from the Tamil and Sinhalese words "Turmali" or "Thoramalli," which translate to "stone with various colors."
Though the Tourmaline that is October's birthstone is pink, it also comes in many other colors, including green, blue, yellow, red, black, and white (clear). Tourmaline also appears as bi-colors and tri-colors, with two or more shades in the same specimen.
Care of Pink Tourmaline
Pink Tourmaline is harder than Opal, making its care easier. Simply wash the Tourmaline with warm soapy water and pat dry with a clean cloth. Keep away from heat and avoid objects that can scratch its surface.
Opal and Pink Tourmaline have been treasured throughout time, and for good reason. Not only are the stones beautiful, but they are also said to contain powerful vibrations. It’s no wonder they are sought after as October's birthstones. Those lucky to be born in October get to claim one – or both – as their birthstones.