An opal’s beauty has the power to steal the breath from anyone who beholds it, but for those born in the month of October, the shimmering gemstone holds a special significance. The official birthstone of the first full month of fall, the precious opal has often been compared to an iridescent rainbow filling the sky after a sudden summer shower. Indeed, the rich medley of colors found in the heart of this unique gem make it one of the most versatile and visually striking natural stones.
Originally named after the Latin word “opalus,” which translates to “precious jewel”, the opal was also dubbed “Cupid Paederos” (“child beautiful as love”) by the Romans, who were fascinated by the stone’s remarkable ability to reflect different colorations of light. Due to its rich combination of hues, many believed the stone to possess the combined powers of all other birthstones. One early legend claimed the opal fell to the earth from heaven, obtaining its colors from rainbows and flashes of lightning on the way down. Treasured by ancient monarchs as a protective stone that warded off evil threats, opals were historically worn in crowns, shields, and necklaces as a protective talisman.
Opal has been discovered in many types of bedrock, including sandstone, limonite, rhyolite, and basalt. Formed from a mineral called silica, the stone is found in hot springs beneath the earth’s surface. As the springs dried up, a mixture of silica and water seeped between the cracks of the rocks, creating opal. Inherent to lower climates, a majority of the world’s opal supply is mined in Australia, although it has also been found in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Ethiopia, and Czechoslovakia.
Due to its high water content (as opposed to other gems like diamonds), opal is a soft, vulnerable stone that must be protected from extremes of temperature, chemicals, and daily wear and tear, all of which can cause damage, drying, and loss of color. Jewelry artisans must take great care when processing, cutting, and setting opal stones.
Known as a symbol of loyalty and conviction, the opal serves as a meaningful and visually striking gift for anyone with an October birthday, thought to bring good luck to anyone born in that month. The opal is also the official stone for the 14th wedding anniversary. The fire and energy of an opal is uncontested in the precious gemstone industry.
At Brilliance, we’re proud to offer a beautiful assortment of exquisite opal jewelry. Choose from a range of shapes and sizes, equally striking when set individually or in conjunction with our other fine gemstones and diamonds.