Gemstone of the Month: October
MEANING: The name “opal” originates from the Greek word opallios, which means “to see a change in colour.”
COMMON SPECIES: Many opal varieties exist, but only a few (like Fire Opal and Boulder Opal) are universally recognized. Opals are often referred to by their background “body colour”—black or white.
COLOUR: Each Opal is truly one-of-a-kind; as unique as our fingerprints.
MOHS HARDNESS: 5.5 to 6
OPTICAL PROPERTIES: The internal structure of precious opal causes it to diffract light, resulting in play-of-colour.
LEGENDS: According to Arabic legend, opals fell from the sky in bolts of lightning. Australian aborigines, meanwhile, believed that their creator came to earth on a rainbow, leaving opals where his feet touched the ground.
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 opal.
GIFTING: Opal is the birthstone for those born in October. It is also the stone given to celebrate 14 years of marriage.
SIMILAR GEMSTONES: Opal is very distinctive in its appearance and there are no other gemstones with the same optical properties as opal. Synthetic opals and doublets and triplets which are sandwiched slices of opal can be mistaken for solid, more valuable, opal.
CARING FOR OPAL: You should treat your opal with some care to prevent any scratches or blows. Because opals contain some water, they should never be stored in a bank or vault for long periods of time because of the dehumidifiers used in many vaults. If opals get too dry, they tend to crack. You should avoid leaving your opal near anything potentially drying and it may be helpful to immerse it in water for several hours from time to time.