October Birthstone: History and Origins of Tourmaline

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Birthdays are yearly occasions of celebrating one’s existence over this beautiful planet. What if you give a birthstone on this rare occasion to your beloved. Birthstones come in the form of beautiful jewelry that any person may wish to embellish with. They are precious stones connected to your date of birth and month that may bring you success in every aspect of life. Once worn they keep away negative energies by channelizing them into positive vibes and take the wearer to the path of prosperity.

Meaning of October Birthstone

Those who are born in October month have two birthstones- Opal and Tourmaline.

Opal is considered as the prominent birthstone for October month. It is believed that its origins lie in India. In ancient Sanskrit text, opal is marked as ‘Upala’ which literally means ‘precious stone’. In ancient Rome, it is called ‘Opalus’. It is famous for its changing colors in rainbow hues.

Tourmaline is the second option for those who are born in October month. It is considered as the new birthstone for October month. Because of its multiple colors in crystal, it gets the name ‘tour mali’ which in the Sinhalese language means stone with mixed color. Its glittering color makes it different from other gemstones.

Opal- The Gemstone of Changing Colors

Opal is considered as the prominent birthstone for October month. Opal is a beautiful gemstone that is found all over the world. The name opal originated from the Greek word ‘Opallios’ which literally means ‘a visible change in the color’. One of the outstanding characteristic features of Opal is its rainbow color visibility. It was first discovered in the 1960s. These characteristics of the opal gemstone are due to the composition of microscopic silica which has the property to diffract the white light into different colors, which is rainbow hues. This property of the gemstone is called a play of colors. There are different types of opal available. But not all opals are famous; only fire opals and boulder opals are valued and universally accepted. The high quality of gemstone may be more expensive than diamond and ruby.

How is Opal Gemstone formed?

Opal formation is not a fast process. It takes millions of years through the continuous decomposition process. It is formed by the solution of silicon dioxide and water. Due to heavy rain, the water runs through the surface of the earth and carries the deposition of silica and sandstone and deposits it in the voids and cracks of the big rocks. This running water is composed of silica-rich water. This silica-rich water stays stagnant in the voids and cracks of the big rocks. As evaporation starts, the water evaporates and the silica depositions are left behind in the rocks. There are many voids and cracks in the rocks and all these cracks are filled with these silica-rich water. Through this continuous cycle for a long period, these silica deposits get converted into fossils and eventually change to opal.

Availability of Opal Gemstone

One of the leading producers of opal gemstone in the world is Australia. About 90% of the world’s opal is produced in Australia. The rest of the producers of opal gemstones are Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, the Czech Republic, Ethiopia, and The United States of America. Opal is the national gemstone of Australia.

The characteristics of opal are different according to the geographical condition of the area. Opal from Mexico called ‘Mexican Opal’ contains more water and is transparent. Opal from Australia is not called Australian Opal and has different names and has a wide variety. In Australia, three types of Opal are mined, namely White opal, Boulder opal, and Black opal.

 

Types of Opal Gemstone

Opal is composed of silicon oxide caused by the action of running water on the surface of the earth into the voids and racks of large rocks. Some of the types of opal formed due to these actions include:

White Opal

This is one of the omnipresent varieties of opal gemstone. It appears with a white background. It is semi-transparent and shows incandescent. It reflects all the spectral colors, but it is considered less valuable than black opal gemstone.

Black Opal

As the name suggests, its body is black with a minute or no incandescence. Nowadays it is a more desirable and valued opal gemstone. Red, green, and yellow colors project outwards and pop up to contrast with the black background which gives a magnificent color combination to the gemstone. This variety of opal looks more impressive and attractive than any other opal varieties of the gemstone.

Boulder and Matrix Opal

These types of opal species are mostly formed in the narrow veins and cracks of the rocks. They are cut and polished inside the rock itself to form beautiful opal gemstones.

Fire-Opal

This type of opal is mostly found transparent with a cool color of yellow to orange to red. It does not show any character of play-of-colors. It usually shows a green color. The important source of fire opal is in Queretaro in Mexico.

Peruvian Opal

This stone is available in semi-opaque to opaque characteristics. It is mostly available in blueish-green and it also does not exhibit the character of the play-of-color. It is mostly found in Peru, Oregon, and Idalia in the Owyhee region, as well as Nevada around the Virgin Valley location.

History of Opal

 

The name opal is derived from both Greek and Roman. But its original name was first discovered in ancient Sanskrit text and it is marked as ‘Upala’. In ancient Greek opal is termed as ‘Opallios’ and in ancient Rome, it is termed as ‘Opalus’, these both names symbolize the same meaning that is ‘to discern a color change’.

It is believed that around 4000 years ago in Ethiopia was the first opal discovered. In the caves of Kenya formed the first opal relics. But only during 1990, after many centuries, the miners excavated opal from Ethiopia again. Like other gemstones, opal is also used for making jewelry and it is considered a symbol of wealth and fashion all over the world. In ancient Hungarian history, opal played a vital role in adorning the Hungarian royalties. Most of the royal family members wore opal stone as a symbol of their throne.

How to Treat Opal Gemstone?

The first opal was found in Ethiopia more than 4000 years ago. So the best method of treating opal is the Ethiopian treatment method. Their treatment includes dye treatment, smoke treatment, and sugar/acid treatment.

Dye Treatment

The opals found from Ethiopia, Hydrophane opals have high porosity and a capacity to absorb liquids naturally. On applying a small quantity of dye it slightly enhances the body color of the opal and only can be identified under microscopic examination or by cutting the stone to the color concentrated near the surface.

Smoke Treatment

Smoke is a minute particle in air or gas. It can enter into the pores of the opal stone and can change its color. To perform the smoke treatment, you have to wrap the opal in a paper and heat it to a temperature for fulmination. This smoking paper will produce dark color which enters into the pores and gives a dark color to the opal gemstone.

Sugar/Acid Treatment

This treatment is done by soaking the opal in sugar water solution for a few days and after that dipping it in sulphuric acid. The sugar in the pores gets oxidized by the acid creating a dark color particle. This gives the color to the opal black, or brown body.

Some Interesting Facts About Opal Gemstone

Opal is one of the most beautiful and amazing gemstones. It is popular for its dazzling color and makes it good for making many pieces of jewelry. Some of the facts about the opal gemstone are as follows.

  • Opal is the birthstone for October month. It symbolizes the quality of love and purity. It is also believed to save you from evil thoughts.
  • Mainly opals are formed in two different colors. One is the background color and the other is the rainbow color. The background color is formed by the impurities in silica and rainbow color is formed by the refraction of light in the crystal.
  • Along with peridot, opal is the only gemstone that is found in outer space. Its presence is evidently proved on the planet Mars.
  • Opal is available in different varieties of colors like yellow, orange, red, blue, green, purple, and black.
  • In ancient Greek culture, they believed that opal was the gemstone formed from the tears of joy and delight for Zeus who successfully defeated the Titan. Opal stone is also famous for its predictive power.
  • About 95% of the world’s opal is found in Australia, so Australia is the largest producer of opal in the world.
  • In ancient Australian myth, they believed that opal is the footprint left by God himself.
  • Queen Victoria adorns herself with opal. Apart from this, she had a wide variety of collections of rubies, sapphires, and diamonds, she preferred opal over others due to its magnificent and dazzling variants of colors.

Opal Jewelry

Like all other gemstones, jewelry made with opal gemstone is also beautiful and has a high demand among people.

Opal as Rings

Due to its beautiful features of rainbow color, it looks gorgeous in the form of a ring. Usually, an opal ring is given as a gift on the 14th wedding anniversary.

Opal as Necklace

The beautiful background color of dark and with a blend of yellow, green, pink gives a mesmerizing look to the necklace.

Opal as Pendant

The different color of stone with a black background gives a classy appearance to the jewelry.

How to Take Care of Opal Gemstone?

As opal is made of silica and is a little hard but the cleaning of this stone should be done very carefully. Gently clean it with detergent soap and mild-warm water and rub it with a soft cloth. Avoid the use of chemicals and other cleaners. Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner on your stone. It may crack the gemstone. It can’t be used for daily wearing. After you wear it, clean it well and rub it with soft cotton and wrap it well. It’s better to make a habit to clean your gemstone regularly so it will last for a long time preserving its natural shining and beauty.


Tourmaline- The Gemstone of Mixed Color

The other birthstone option for October month is tourmaline gemstone. The name originated from the Sinhalese language “tura mali” which literally means ‘stones of mixed colors’. It is available in different colors like black to bluish-black, dark brown, yellow, medium brown, blue to neon blue, lime to dark to rest green, red and reddish-purple, yellow, pink, and colorless.

How is Tourmaline Gemstone formed?

Normally a tourmaline is formed as a pegmatite. These are formed under deep ground inside the voids with hot liquid which is rich in minerals. When the liquid gets cool the remaining minerals form crystals and they appear as tourmalines. The surrounding rocks are generally made of granite or schists. On other hand, tourmalines can also be formed by the metamorphic process. In this process, the gemstone occurs in veins in schist.

Availability of Tourmaline Gemstone

Tourmaline is almost present everywhere. But the large sources of tourmaline gemstones are found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, and South Africa. They are the leading producer of tourmaline and contribute almost 80% of the world’s tourmaline production. The other producers of tourmaline gemstones are Nigeria, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe. In the United States, a large deposition of tourmaline is found in California and Maine.

Types of Tourmaline Gemstone

 

Tourmaline is a formation of many minerals like manganese, iron, etc. This is the reason why it is available in different colors. Some types of tourmaline gemstones include:

Rubellite

This tourmaline type is very popular due to its varying color from pink to purplish red to orange-red. It is commonly available and is found in big sizes. So, these characteristics make rubellite to be used as an alternative stone for ruby and red spinel.

Indicolite

This is a rare variety of tourmaline. Its color is blue, violetish blue or greenish-blue.

Paraiba Tourmaline

This gemstone gets its name from where they were found for the first time. In the late 1980s, this tourmaline was found in Paraiba, Brazil. It is a rare neon blue color tourmaline. It is one of the favorite stones for everyone due to its magnificent color. So it is always high in demand and short in supply. Therefore,  it is one of the most expensive tourmaline gemstones.

Chrome Tourmaline

It appears in an exotic green color due to the excessive presence of the element vanadium. The gemstone was firstly excavated in Tanzania during the late 1960s. It is available only in limited quantities. Its exorbitant color makes it a favorite gemstone among the people.

History of Tourmaline Gemstone

The history of the tourmaline starts from the 1500 century. It was first discovered in Brazil by a Spanish subjugator. He primarily discovered it as greenstone and misunderstood it as emerald. This misunderstanding lasted for long three centuries up to 1800 when the mineralogists rediscovered the green stone as tourmaline and not an emerald. During the year 1400, the black tourmaline was used by the name “schorl”. This name comes from a village in Saxony, Germany which is situated near the black tourmaline mine.

The deposition of American tourmaline brought the popularity of the gemstone in 1876. Tourmaline first showed its evidence in California in the 1890s. China became the biggest market for tourmaline. Above all the Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi was an ardent lover of pink tourmaline. She used to purchase a large quantity of pink tourmaline from San Diego county. The period of the 1980s and 90s showed a hike in the demand for tourmaline gemstone. Brazil excavated the tourmaline from Paraiba which showed a vibrant neon green color and gorgeous violets. Later this region became the largest producer of tourmaline in the world. The quality of tourmaline gemstone and its vivid color determine its price. The variety of colors results in an increased price.

How to treat Tourmaline Gemstone?

Tourmaline gemstone can be treated in two different ways. By the process of heating and irradiation.

Tourmaline is heat-treated to around 700-degree Celsius to brighten up the color, for a permanent change. For a deep saturated red color for tourmaline, it is heated to 125 degrees celsius per hour to 520 degrees Celsius in a furnace. By holding the latter temperature for 2 hours and let it cool.

The other method is irradiation. This is done with cobalt 60. After cleaning off the surface imperfection, the treatment with cobalt 60 gamma irradiation gives the stone a pink and hot pink color.

Some Interesting Facts About Tourmaline

Tourmaline gemstone is one of the favorite gemstones among stone lovers. Its shimmering color and beauty attract the people. The different varieties of colors also add their demand among the people. Some of the interesting facts about the tourmaline are:

  • Its radiant color changes from red to rosy pinks and from bright yellow to delightful blues. It is also available in many different shades. Its name itself means precious stone in the Sinhalese language.
  • One of the unique features of the tourmaline is its trichroism character. This means when it is observed from a different angle it exhibits different colors.
  • The last Empress of Ching’s dynasty of China was an ardent lover of pink tourmaline. She adorned herself with pink tourmaline and she purchased a huge number of pink tourmaline from the US. After her death, her sarcophagus was decorated with pink tourmaline, and her body was laid in a pillow which was completely filled with pink tourmaline as a symbol of her love and passion for this gemstone.

Tourmaline Jewelry

Jewelry made with tourmaline exhibits magnificent looks. The availability of different colors of the stone makes the ornaments look more beautiful and amazing

Tourmaline as Rings

With the variety of different colors and availability of stone, the rings made with this gemstone possess a dazzling look.

Tourmaline as Pendant

The combination of colors and the blend of gold and silver make your pendant look beautiful and gorgeous.

Tourmaline as Earrings

Tourmaline earrings are beautiful when worn combined with platinum. It highlights the color and looks prettier.

How to Take Care of Tourmaline?

You can take proper care of this precious gemstone by carrying out some simple to follow activities:

  • To avoid scratching the stone should be kept separately wrapped in a soft cloth.
  • Do not expose gemstone to high heat. It may damage the stone and cause fractures in it.
  • It is recommended to clean it with warm water and with soap and rub it with a soft fiber cloth.
  • Clean your jewelry at least once a month.

Buying guides for October Birthstone

Carat Weight

Check the carat weight of the gemstone. The weight of the gemstone is measured according to its density.

Quality of the Cut

The cut of a stone determines its original quality. If the cut is perfect then the gemstone looks great and perfect.

Color

You need to check the color of the stone. The color may vary for different gemstones in daylight and at night time.

Where to Buy October Gemstone?

Nowadays the selection of buying a gemstone from a good retailer is a little complicated. In each nuke and corner, you can see the dealers who sell birthstones. For a good result and effect, you should purchase the birthstone from experienced and trusted birthstone dealers. For this, you can approach the dealers like James Allen, Blue Nile, Amazon, Whiteflash, and Jared, etc. You can select a wide variety of good quality gemstone from these retailers. They also offer a 30 days return policy to their customers.

Final Words

Birthstones are also known for their high durability. They are passed over from generation to generation as an ancestral gift. People like to wear them because they are believed to provide confidence in adverse situations and provide insights into problems that can be solved easily.

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