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October has two accepted birthstones; tourmaline and opal. If you missed our earlier blogs about these gems you might want to scroll back and read them. Today's blog is about opal, specifically black opal. Lightning Ridge, a small outback town in New South Wales, is the only place in Australia, and one of the few places in the world, where the highly prized black opal is found. Opals with a vivid play-of-color and a black or dark body color are classified as black opals. As one of October’s official birthstones, the precious opal is universally loved because it can present all the colors of the rainbow. Each opal is truly unique and more than 95% of the world's fine opals are sourced in Australia. Other varieties include white opals, boulder opals, crystal opals and fire opals.
Tourmaline comes in a wide variety of fiery, vibrant hues, such as red, green, yellow, orange, brown, pink and purple. October's birthstone is even available in bi-color and tri-color versions. But, the most coveted tourmaline of all is the neon blue variety that was originally unearthed in Paraiba, Brazil, in 1987. The name “tourmaline” is derived from the Singhalese words “tura mali,” which mean “stone with mixed colors.” Many gemstone "families" (sapphire and garnet being the most notable) naturally occur in a variety of colors. Most people tend to think of only one color, blue sapphire, brownish red garnet, green tourmaline, etc.
Opal has symbolized hope, innocence and purity through the ages. In the Middle Ages, young, fair-haired girls wore opals in their hair to protect its lovely blond color. Medieval writers believed opal could render its wearer invisible when the need arose. It was also said to have a beneficial effect on eyesight. It was thought to banish evil spirits and favor children, the theater, amusements, friendships and feelings.