Every birthstone is special and unique, and they hold deep meaning for those born within the month their stone is identified with.

The most beautiful of the birthstones are found in the fall months of September and October. September lays claim to the beauty of the sapphire. October is special, having both opal and tourmaline to choose from.

Just what is it about these stones that are so special? Let us look and discover their secrets!

Opal

teardrop opal beads on blackThe word “opal” has Greek origins, coming from their opallios. Its meaning is literally to see a change in color.

Opal and origins

The opal’s ability to display the colors of the rainbow is due to the light diffraction from microscopic silica spheres. Precious opals exhibit the flashy play of color, while common opals do not. There are numerous varieties of opals available, but the most widely recognized are the boulder opal and the fire opal.

Australia is the originating country for opals, discovered around 1850, and 95% of the global supply of opals has been exported from Australia since that time. In the Australian Outback, seasonal rains flooded into the dry, cracked ground, bringing silica deposits into the spaces between rock layers. Opal deposits formed after the water had evaporated.

Arabic legend tells of opals falling from above in lightning bolts. The Aboriginal people of Australia believe where the Creator’s feet touched the ground, the stones were left behind.

Other countries in the world where opals are mined today include the United States (Idaho and Nevada), Honduras, Mexico, the Czech Republic, Ethiopia, and Brazil.

Mohs Scale

Opal is a delicate gem. On the Mohs scale, it only rates 5.5-6.0, in terms of hardness. It also has a highly variable water content, falling anywhere between 3 and 21%.

“Olympic Australis” is the largest and most valuable opal in the world. Discovered in 1956, it weighs 7.6 pounds and is worth an estimated $3 million.

Direct light or extreme temperatures causing dehydration of the stone may result in cracks. It requires more care than other gems, but the benefits are worth the work. Opal has always been identified with luck and is said to bring many possibilities to the wearer.

Tourmaline

The Egyptians explain the beautiful colors of tourmaline as the result of stones passing through a rainbow on their travel upward from the center of the Earth. However, the name comes from tura mali, Sinhalese words referring to a stone of many colors.

Tourmaline Colors and Origins

tourmaline beads on strandThe popularity of tourmaline was due to deposits found in mines in the United States. Although new to miners, various colors of the stones had been given as funeral gifts by Native Americans for hundreds of years.

The assortment of compositions, along with trace elements, produces tourmalines in more colors and combinations than any other mineral group. These colors include black, green, pink, brown, red, blue, purple, and even colorless, which is the rarest of them all. Black tourmaline got its name from the German village of Saxony where it was mined in the 1400s.

Green tourmaline was found in Brazil during the 1500s. It was initially considered an emerald because of the color. Mineralogists classified tourmaline as its own gem species in the 1800s.

San Diego mines contained pink tourmaline, creating a market craze in China. The interest in tourmaline waned after the collapse of the Chinese government in 1912.

Mining occurs in Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Madagascar, the United States, Mozambique, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan.

Mohs Scale

Tourmaline is a complex mix of various minerals that have different properties and compositions. Rating between 7.0-7.5 on the Mohs scale, tourmaline is durable, making it desirable in jewelry design.

Magicians use tourmaline in their shows because of its unique ability to obtain magnetic qualities. It is believed to be a protector against negative thoughts, radiation, toxin, pollutants, and evil forces.

The largest tourmaline stone in the world is from Brazil, weighing a whopping 191.87 carats.

Sapphire

Sapphire is coveted the world over by jewelry designers and discriminating buyers. This precious gem instills loyalty and wisdom, channels higher powers focus the mind, and is demanded by the nobility.

There are several variations on the origin of the name sapphire. “Blue stone” is the meaning of the Greek word sappheiros and the Latin sapphirus. Others prefer sanipriya, the Sanskrit word meaning “dear to Saturn.”

Sapphire Colors and Origins

When most people think of a sapphire, they envision a royal blue stone. Many would be surprised to discover that sapphires come in a variety of colors, except for red. Gemologists classify a red sapphire as a ruby.

various teardrop beads on strandDepending on the content of trace elements, the tint of the stone varies. Certain pinkish-orange stones have sold for more than regular blue sapphires.

When seeking to receive guidance from the Oracle, Ancient Greeks wore a sapphire for guidance. Both the Hindus and Buddhists used the stone in worship, believing it increased spiritual enlightenment. Even Christian kings believed in the power of sapphires, using them in ecclesiastical rings.

Australia mined most of the world’s sapphires until the 1990s when Madagascar discovered valuable deposits and became the world leader in exports.

There are many famous star sapphires, such as the 182-carat Star of Bombay, the 563.4-carat Star of India, and the 1404.49-carat Star of Adam. Each of these fabulous gems were of Sri Lankan origin.

Mohs Scale

Second in hardness only to diamonds, sapphires have a rating of nine on the Mohs scale. This is why they are considered premium stones for engagement rings, such as the world’s most famous one of all—the engagement ring given to Lady Diana Spencer by Prince Charles in 1981. The royal love tradition continued when Prince William gave his mother’s ring to Kate Middleton during his 2010 proposal.