October Birthstone Tourmaline Opal

Tourmaline October Birthstone

Tourmalines have a variety of exciting colors with one of the widest color ranges of any gem.

Comes in many colors, including the remarkable intense violet-to-blue gems particular to Paraíba, Brazil, and similar blues from Africa. Favorite of mineral collectors.

Tourmaline’s colors have many different causes. It’s generally agreed that traces of iron, and possibly titanium, induce green and blue colors. Manganese produces reds and pinks, and possibly yellows. Some pink and yellow tourmalines might owe their hues to color centers caused by radiation, which can be natural or laboratory-induced.

BIRTHSTONES & ANNIVERSARIES

Tourmaline is a birthstone for October, along with opal. Tourmaline is also the gem of the eighth anniversary.

MINERAL: Tourmaline

MOHS HARNESS: 7 to 7.5

Tourmaline Birthstone October
Elbaite. Cruziero Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil. 9.2cm high. Steve Smale Collection.

Somewhere in Brazil in the 1500s, a Spanish conquistador washed the dirt from a green tourmaline crystal and confused the vibrant gem with emerald. His confusion lived on until scientists recognized tourmaline as a distinct mineral species in the 1800s. The confusion about the stone’s identity is even reflected in its name, which comes from toramalli, which means “mixed gems” in Sinhalese (a language of Sri Lanka).  It’s a term Dutch merchants applied to the multicolored, water-worn pebbles that miners found in the gem gravels of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

It’s easy to understand why people so easily confuse tourmaline with other gems: Very few gems match tourmaline’s dazzling range of colors. From rich reds to pastel pinks and peach colors, intense emerald greens to vivid yellows and deep blues, the breadth of this gem’s color range is unrivalled. Brazilian discoveries in the 1980s and 1990s heightened tourmaline’s appeal by bringing intense new hues to the marketplace.

People have probably used tourmaline as a gem for centuries, but until the development of modern mineralogy, they identified it as some other stone (ruby, sapphire, emerald, and so forth) based on its coloring.

One of the earliest reports of tourmaline in California was in 1892. In the late 1800s, tourmaline became known as an American gem through the efforts of Tiffany gemologist George F. Kunz. He wrote about the tourmaline deposits of Maine and California, and praised the stones they produced.

In spite of its American roots, tourmaline’s biggest market at the time was in China.  Much of the pink and red tourmaline from San Diego County in California was shipped to China because the Chinese Dowager Empress Tz’u Hsi was especially fond of the color. There, craftsmen carved the tourmaline into snuff bottles and other pieces to be set in jewelry. San Diego County’s famed tourmaline mines include the Tourmaline Queen, Tourmaline King, Stewart, Pala Chief, and Himalaya.

The miners became so dependent on Chinese trade that when the Chinese government collapsed in 1912, the US tourmaline trade also collapsed. The Himalaya mine stopped producing large volumes of gemstones. Other mines in San Diego County, like the Stewart Lithia mine at Pala, still produce sporadic supplies of gem-quality tourmaline.

Tourmaline Birthstone October
Photographed from the GIA Collection for the CIBJO project from the Dr. Eduard J. Gubelin Collection. Cushion cut rubellite tourmaline, 8.16 ct and emerald cut pink tourmaline, 10.78 ct.

 

Tourmaline Birthstone October
11.47 ct. cushion step cut, Chrome Tourmaline (Dravite) from Landanai, Tanzania; Dr. E. Gubelin Collection

 

Tourmaline Birthstone October
This 376.85-carat tourmaline in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is carved by O. Hansen, using the colors of the tourmaline as part of the design.

THE HEALING POWER OF GEMSTONES

According to folklore and stories throughout history, many gemstones are thought to offer mystic healing to its wearer.  So whether shopping for a gift of fine jewelry, or considering a gift for yourself along the way, consider the healing properties of these fine gemstones. Birthday gemstones may not bake your cookies and wrap your gifts for you, but they will make you feel better while doing so.

Tourmaline –  is a stone that can increase flexibility, happiness, hope, objectivity, compassion and serenity. It also enhances tolerance and understanding. It is a stone that is very helpful for channeling. Tourmaline is also a very protecting stone. It is called the Poet’s Stone. Tourmaline is often associated with the heart chakra, particularly watermelon tourmaline, where it opens one to accept love. Other colors of tourmaline are associated with additional chakras.

 

Opal October Birthstone

A second choice of birthstone for October is Opal.

Fireworks. Jellyfish. Galaxies. Lightning. Opal’s shifting play of kaleidoscopic colors is unlike any other gem.

Opal’s microscopic arrays of stacked silica spheres diffract light into a blaze of flashing colors. An opal’s color range and pattern help determine its value.

Because opal has the colors of other gems, the Romans thought it was the most precious and powerful of all. The Bedouins believed that opals contained lightning and fell from the sky during thunderstorms. When Australia’s mines began to produce opals commercially in the 1890s, it quickly became the world’s primary source for this October birthstone.

BIRTHSTONES & ANNIVERSARIES

Opal is an October birthstone.

MINERAL: Hydrated Silica

MOHS HARNESS: 5 to 6.5

Opal Light
Round cabochon white opal from Ethiopia.

Writers have compared opals to volcanoes, galaxies, and fireworks. Admirers gave extraordinary opals poetic names like Pandora, Light of the World, and Empress. In ancient Rome, this gem symbolized love and hope. The Romans gave it a name—opalus—that was synonymous with “precious stone.”

In 75 AD, the Roman scholar Pliny observed, “Some opali carry such a play within them that they equal the deepest and richest colors of painters. Others…simulate the flaming fire of burning sulphur and even the bright blaze of burning oil.” He marveled that this kaleidoscopic gem encompassed the red of ruby, the green of emerald, the yellow of topaz, the blue of sapphire, and the purple of amethyst.

Many cultures have credited opal with supernatural origins and powers. Arabic legends say it falls from the heavens in flashes of lightning. The ancient Greeks believed opals gave their owners the gift of prophecy and guarded them from disease. Europeans have long considered the gem a symbol of hope, purity, and truth.

Opal is considered an October birthstone. Some people think it’s unlucky for anyone born in another month to wear an opal. But that particular superstition comes from a novel written in the 1800s (Anne of Geierstein by Sir Walter Scott), and not from any ancient belief or experience. In fact, throughout most of history, opal has been regarded as the luckiest and most magical of all gems because it can show all colors. Once, it was thought to have the power to preserve the life and color of blond hair.

Black Opal
The play-of-color in this black opal has an exceptionally rare star pattern. – Courtesy Cody Opal

 

Fire Opal
Fire opal is often an orange color. – Jeff Scovil

 

Opal Necklace Birthstone October
“The Path of Enlightenment” necklace contains 180 magnificent opals from Lightning Ridge, Australia, a famous opal producing area. – Courtesy Cody Opal

THE HEALING POWER OF GEMSTONES

According to folklore and stories throughout history, many gemstones are thought to offer mystic healing to its wearer.  So whether shopping for a gift of fine jewelry, or considering a gift for yourself along the way, consider the healing properties of these fine gemstones. Birthday gemstones may not bake your cookies and wrap your gifts for you, but they will make you feel better while doing so.

Opal – Opal is a stone of inspiration which enhances imagination and creativity.