October Birthstones: TOURMALINE & OPALS

201WP Oct James Breski tourmaline and opal October’s two stone selections capture all the colors of the rainbow, internally and externally. How so? The shimmering tourmaline offers quite a spectrum of colors within the species of the stone. Green and pink are the primary colors, while rarer varieties include blue, yellow, brown and orange. Meanwhile, the mysterious opal captures the full spectrum of colors internally in beautiful sparks and bursts below the stone’s surface. Which one to choose? Try one of each!

The Tale of the Tourmaline

The tourmaline throughout history has been the great pretender. Mistaken for sapphire, emerald and occasionally ruby, the stone was not officially identified as a distinct mineral species until the 1800s. Even around the store today, our browsing customers inquire about our emerald rings, only to be surprised with an answer of “tourmaline.”

Here are a few of the official names of tourmaline in today’s market and some of their prized characteristics:

  • Watermelon tourmaline is a crystal that is green on the outside and pinkish red on the inside;
  • Rubellite, which is the pink/red variety of tourmaline;
  • Chrome tourmaline, which offers hues more saturated than most green tourmalines; and
  • Paraiba tourmaline, a vivid blue to green that can range in tone from light to dark.

Did you know?

The Ethereal Carolina Divine Paraiba tourmaline, the world’s largest cut Paraiba tourmaline, was set into a one-of-a-kind necklace by Canadian jewelers Kaufmann de Suisse in 2013.

An Ode to Opals

Opal starts as a solution of silica in water that forms in cavities within rocks. If the silica fills in space left by rotting shells or bones, the opal silica molds around the object to form an opal cast of the original. If the conditions are right for opal formation, entire fossils can become opalized. Nessie, a two-meter long opalized pliosaur from Australia, is an example on display at the National Opal Collection in Sydney, Australia.

Like tourmaline, opals have a few varieties worth mentioning:

  • White or light opal, a translucent to semi-translucent stone with play-of-color against a white or light gray background;
  • Black opal, a translucent to opaque stone with play-of-color against a black or other dark background;
  • Fire opal, a transparent to translucent gem with a brown, yellow, orange or red background that doesn’t show play-of-color;
  • Boulder opal, a translucent to opaque stone with play-of-color against a light to dark background that features fragments of the surrounding rock, called matrix, as part of the finished gem; and
  • Crystal or water opal, a transparent to semitransparent stone with a clear background that shows an exceptional play-of-color that looks like reflections across the surface of water.

Did you know?

The world’s largest opal, known as the Royal One, is a 306-carat, gem-quality black opal that was discovered in Australia’s remote opal-mining outpost Lightning Ridge.

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