The Opal is the traditional birthstone for October. This rare and colourful gemstone became the stone for October in the 1900’s, and has often been compared to rainbows fireworks and galaxies. Having been created millions of years ago, opal is a formation of silicon dioxide and water. When rainfall finds its way into cracks in the earth the silicon in sandstone is carried with it, once the rain evaporates it leaves a deposit. Over repeated times and many years eventually a beautiful opal is created.
Australia, and its unique geological development means it is able to supply 95% of the worlds opals.
Folklore and Legends
The Romans believed the opal to stand for hope and purity, all the colours of the rainbow that emit from this beautiful stone would fill its owner with good fortune.
Arabians believe the opal fell from heaven and the Greeks believed it to be a gem of prophecy.
Other folklore claims that the opal supports creativity expression and a carefree attitude.
Many cultures regard opals to be the bearer of good luck, although many of you might say ‘Well I always thought they were unlucky’.
There are many myths and legends that this is based on. One in fact came from the novel by Sir Walter Scott’s Anne of Geierstein written in 1929. The character Lady Hermione wore an opal in her hair that was said to be magical, sparkled when she was happy, and created fiery red flashes when she was angry. On the day her daughter was christened some holy water was dropped on the beautiful opal, and a couple of hours later she was reduced to a pile of ash.
People often blame the supernatural for things that they don’t have an understanding of. One such event was the return of the black plague in 1860, an opal worn by an unfortunate victim was said to lose all its sparkle after their death.
But by the late 20thCentury Queen Victoria had begun a revival of opals, as well as being a lover of them herself, and building a large collection. She also presented opal jewellery to her five daughters as well as friends. What royalty wore was considered highly fashionable, which in turn saw opals become much sought after and a highly regarded gemstone.
A pair of opal earrings on display at the south Australia museum worn by Queen Victoria
Whatever you may believe about opals; the wonderful jewellery created from them is undoubtedly helped by the mystery and legends surrounding them. Ultimately no one can dispute the beauty of these gemstones; it’s up to you to decide if the historical tales have any truth in them.