3 IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT OCTOBERS BIRTHSTONE THE OPAL
October’s child is born for woe,
And life’s vicissitudes must know,
But lay an opal on her breast,
And hope will lull those woes to rest.
THE OPAL BIRTHSTONE
Opal is a precious stone and, to be technical, is a ‘hydrated amorphous form of silica’. It is deposited at a low temperature and most commonly found within limonite, basalt and sandstone.
As the national gemstone of Australia, it is unsurprising that between 95 and 97% of opal comes from the country, 80% of which comes from South Australia. Deposits have been discovered in other parts of the world, however, including Ethiopia, North America and Eastern Europe.
WHAT MAKES THE LIGHT IN AN OPAL
Opal’s infamous ‘Rainbow Shield’ occurs due to its internal structures which makes it diffract light and depending on the conditions its formed in, it can take on a whole host of hues! Of them all, red and black hues are the most rare whereas white and green hues occur the most. These more common opal don’t show the same radiant colour display and include milk opal- possessing blueish-greenish tints, resin opal- embellished with honey-yellow hues and wood opal- formed due to replacement of the organic material in wood with opal.
As expected with most of the gemstones in our Three Interesting Facts Birthstone special, opal can be synthetically produced and has been since the 70s. While it is difficult to distinguish between a genuine opal and a synthetic stone, this can be done under magnification as the patches of colour are seen to be strategically arranged in ‘lizard skin’ or ‘chicken wire’ pattern.
THREE INTERESTING FACTS
With the history, origin and composition accounted for, we will reveal our Three Interesting facts for October’s opal! We know how you love your folklore!
INTERESTING FACT ONE
In the Middle Ages, opal was considered a stone that could provide great luck because it was believed to possess all the virtues of each gemstone whose colour was represented in the colour spectrum of the opal.
-It was also said to confer the power of invisibility if wrapped in a fresh bay leaf and held in the hand.
INTERESTING FACT TWO
In 1915 a group of people were searching for gold at the edge of the Great Victoria Desert northwest of Adelaide. Making camp one night, a 14 year old boy found an opal.–
This started an ‘opal rush’ and soon the settlement of the Stuart Range Opal Field was founded… making it Australia’s national stone to this day.
INTERESTING FACT THREE
DID YOU KNOW?
No two opals are the same.
-Like a fingerprint, every opal is different from another. When buying opals on a personal basis it is thought that the one for you will jump out at you and appeal more than others might.
For next month’s Three Interesting facts, while nearing the end of our birthstone series (and we hope it’s been enthralling), we will have a little look at a gemstone that might seem less common than the previous. Make sure to have a read next time as we discover more about topaz.
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As with this contemporary ring, we can even help you combine your old jewellery to create new preserving some of your old memories and giving them a new life.
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Written and researched by Hazel Martin for Helly and Haz of Helen Swan Designer Jewellery