October’s two birthstones

2018-10-03 06:02

INDIVIDUALS born in October can choose between two birthstones —tourmaline and opal. Each gem then unveils nearly limitless possibilities, as each one comes in a rainbow of shades and color combinations.

Opal's classic country of origin is Australia. Seasonal rains soaked the parched outback, carrying silica deposits underground into cracks between layers of rock. When the water evaporated, these deposits formed opal. Sometimes, silica seeped into spaces around wood, seashells and skeletons, resulting in opalized fossils.

According to Arabic legend, opals fell from the sky in bolts of lightning. Australian aborigines meanwhile believed that the creator came to earth on a rainbow, leaving these colorful stones where his feet touched the ground.

In ancient Rome, the Opal symbolized love and hope. It was believed that it provided protection against occult forces — blonde women wore opal necklaces to protect their hair from losing its colour. It was even believed that this gem could make the wearer invisible!

It was said that opals amplified and mirrored feelings and buried emotions and desires. During the Middle Ages, people believed that the opal possessed the powers of each gemstone whose color appeared in its sheen, making it a very lucky stone. However the book Anne of Geierstein, written by Sir Walter Scott in 1829, transformed opal's lucky perception. The story featured an enchanted princess who wore an opal that changed colors with her moods. But a few drops of holy water extinguished the stone's magic fire, and the woman soon died. People began associating opals with bad luck. Within a year after publication of Scott's book, opal sales in Europe fell by 50%. It is also supposed to be unlucky to buy an opal for yourself — unless its surrounded by diamonds!

Tourmaline comes in a wide range of colours — pink is the one for October. Tourmaline is mined on every continent in the world and comes in all colours, including clear, purple, red, orange, green, blue, and mixed. Legend has it that these stones fell from the heavens in a divine rain shower, passing through a rainbow. In doing so, the stone grabbed the colors it touched and then fell to earth. It was thought that those who found it would have everlasting joy and contentment.

Today, it is a popular stone worn by musicians or artists to enable them to be stress-free and comfortable so that they can be as creative as possible. This stone was once thought to help with the heart and nervous system. It was believed that if a baby was restless, and would not sleep, parents would place the stone in the child's bed and the little one would fall fast asleep, usually awakening to recant a pleasant dream.

In the early 1890s, China represented the biggest market for tourmaline. The Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi was particularly fond of pink tourmaline, purchasing large quantities of it from deposits in San Diego County.The Chinese market was so critical to tourmaline that when the Chinese government collapsed in 1912 it took the tourmaline trade down with it.

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