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October has 2 birthstones Opal and Tourmaline.


Opals are formed in near-surface volcanic rocks, within cavities and cracks. In sedimentary volcanic ash rock, percolating water in the ground dissolves silica that eventually precipitates to form the opal, sometimes becoming the replacement material for fossils – shells, bones, wood – whose original material had dissolved away.

To ancient Romans, the opal was a symbol of love and hope. Orientals called it the “anchor of hope.” Arabs say it fell from the heavens in flashes of lightning. It was believed to make its wearer invisible, hence the opal was the talisman of thieves and spies.

During the Medieval period, a change in color intensity of an opal was believed to indicated if its wearer was ill or in good health. The opal was supposed to maintain a strong heart, prevent fainting, protect against infection, and cleanse foul-smelling air. The stone, as in ancient times, was still regarded as a symbol of hope.

But the opal’s reputation changed in the mid-14th century. The Black Death swept across Europe, killing one quarter of its population. The gem was believed to be the cause of death. When worn by someone struck with the deadly plague, it would appear brilliant only until the person died. Then it would change in appearance, losing its luster. In reality, it was the sensitivity of this stone to changes in temperature that altered its appearance, as the heat from a burning fever gave way to the chill of death.

The alternate birthstone for October is the tourmaline, a gemstone that exhibits the broadest spectrum of gemstone colors. Gem-quality forms of this mineral have in the past been misidentified as rubies, emeralds and sapphires. In fact, a famous tourmaline-the size of a pigeon’s egg-belonging to the Russian Empress Catherine the Great was long thought to be a ruby. The name of this gemstone is believed to derive from the Singhalese (Sri Lankan) word “toramalli,” a term applied to yellow, green or brown stones, that means “something little out of the earth.”

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