October Birthstone - Opal

Opal is the birthstone for October and symbolises purity and hope. It is regarded as a protective stone, as it keeps the wearer from harm. Opal is formed when water seeps down into crevasses in  rocks. Once the water evaporates, the silica that is left behind dries out and hardens into precious opal. Australia produces approximately 95% of the world’s opals! Most of this opal is white opal from the South Australian town of Coober Pedy. 

Queen Victoria owned and wore gems from all over the world, but her favourite gemstone was opal. She promoted their popularity, influenced by the fact that the richest opal mines in the world were discovered in the British Empire – Australia, in 1849. Her fondness for opals was substantiated by the Art Nouveau movement, which loved iridescence, and by Tiffany, whose fascination with iridescence in glass extended to enamel and gemstones as well.

The beautiful changing colours you see in opal is due to millions of tiny silica spheres of different sizes. The spheres refract light and cause the gorgeous spectral colours we see in opal. Opals come in a variety of colours, and their price depends on size, depth, fineness of colour and degree of fire. There are three types of opal in Australia:

  1. Black Opal from Lightening Ridge. Black Opal is becoming increasingly rare and much valued due to its rarity.
  2. Boulder Opal from Queensland. Boulder Opal is formed through the host rock of Ironstone and can possess a stunning array of colours.
  3. White Opal from Coober Pedy, South Australia. White Opal is the most common form of opal and is valued the world over for its beautiful colours.

If you own or love opals, you should give them a long, luxurious bath every now and then in water, or a mixture of glycerine and water, to keep them from drying out and losing their fire. They are great, fragile beauties that demand some care but give a lot of joy and pleasure in return.

We are passionate about opals and just a little obsessed with the gorgeous and unique opals set in the rings, necklaces, bracelets and pendants we have in store now.