Sparkly and iridescent, the magical opal stone can catch the light with their ever-changing flecks of color. This luminescent gem is the birthstone of October and symbolizes hope and purity.
Read on to learn about the characteristics of opals, the benefits of wearing them, and how to clean your opal jewelry.
What is Opal?
Opals are composed of light-reflecting silica spheres which give the gemstone its rainbow hue. Opals are typically formed from ancient fossilized materials. The stunning gemstone is formally recognized as the October Birthstone. It comes in a wide range of colors - including white, black, blue, green, orange, red, purple and more. This gorgeous gemstone has been used in jewelry for centuries and is a popular choice for rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.
Shop Our Opal Jewelry
Opal Ring - Isabel
October Birthstone Necklace - Opal
History of Opal
The name opal comes from the Greek word “opalus,” which means precious stone. Many cultures, including the Romans and ancient Greeks, believed opals had supernatural origins and powers. Ancient Greeks thought these stones would guard them against disease, while Europeans considered opals a symbol of purity and truth.
Origin as October’s Birthstone
In 1912, the National Retail Jeweler’s Association created the first list of birthstones, naming opals and tourmalines as the official birthstones of October. But before this official designation, opal jewelry was gifted and worn by those with October birthdays, dating back to the 15th century.
Where are Opals Found?
Opals are found all over the world, but the majority of them are mined in Australia. The Australian outback is home to some of the world's largest and most valuable opal deposits.
Fun fact: 95% of the world's precious opals come from Australia. Other countries that mine opals include Mexico, Brazil, Ethiopia, and the United States. Each location has its unique characteristics, such as the rare black opals found in Lightning Ridge, Australia, which are renowned for their rich, dark colors!
How are Opals Formed?
Opals are formed when silica-rich water seeps into the cracks and crevices of rocks and ancient fossilized materials in the earth’s crust. Over time, this silica gel hardens and forms what we know as the beautiful October birthstone.
The kaleidoscope colors seen in opals is due to the way the silica particles are arranged, creating a diffracted light effect. The colors can vary depending on the size of the silica spheres and the angle of the light hitting the opal. Opals can take millions of years to form, and the process is delicate and precise. Because of their rarity and stunning beauty, opals have been prized gemstones for centuries and are a popular choice for jewelry.
What Color is Opal?
Opals come in a range of colors, from colorless to black and everything in between. Similar to a kaleidoscope, opal stones rarely display in just one color. Rather, they display stacked hues of green, blue, purple, pink, and more.
The colors seen in opals are due to the way light interacts with the silica particles within the stone. The most common opal colors are white or colorless while the most rare opal colors are red or black. No two opals are ever the exact same, meaning each stone is completely unique!
Opal is commonly associated with notions of hope, purity, truth, and creativity. It is believed that opal can help calm the mind, enhance creativity, and promote loyalty and faithfulness. Opals are also associated with the month of October and are considered the birthstone for those born during that month. Regardless of the specific meanings and beliefs associated with the October birthstone, one thing is certain: they are ethereal gemstones that are sure to capture the hearts of jewelry lovers everywhere!
Opal Healing Properties
Opal is heralded as an emotional balancer. It’s said to promote a state of calm, good fortune, luck, and love to those who wear it or place it in their home. The protective properties of opals mean they can also help absorb negative energies around you, and reflect them back to their source.
These colorful stones may also spark inspiration and creativity. Some say they help get your creative juices flowing, which is especially useful for artists, designers, and writers. Wearing opal jewelry may also make you feel confident and let go of unwanted behaviors, bringing out your true self.
These are just a few of the many benefits of wearing opal jewelry:
- Helps soothe your mind and create a state of calm.
- Find inner peace, let go of the past, and overcome fears.
- Boosts intuition and self-attention.
- Opens your heart to love and brings happiness into your life.
- Amplifies your positive thoughts and ideas.
Fun Facts About Opals
- Opals are the only gemstone found in all colors of the rainbow. The colors of an opal vary depending on the thickness of its layers and the internal structure, which is why they are such unique and coveted stones.
- While opals are usually found in the grounds of Australia, they’ve also been located in other places. Did you know that scientists discovered opal deposits on Mars in 2008? So you could quite literally say that opals are otherworldly 😉
- Opal rings and necklaces are popular gifts among sweethearts because they’re the traditional gift for 14th year wedding anniversaries.
- According to geologists, it takes between 5 and 6 million years for a 1 cm opal to form.
Opal Jewelry Care & Cleaning
Opals range between 6.5 and 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, which means they are relatively durable. However, opal stones are sensitive to light and could crack or lose their color when exposed to the elements, which is why it is important to handle opal jewelry delicately and avoid exposing it to direct sunlight or extreme temperatures. When you are not wearing your opal jewelry, remember to store your them in a soft pouch to ensure their longevity and beauty.
While your opal jewelry won’t need frequent cleaning, you may occasionally want to buff the stone. We recommend using a soft microfiber cloth (or an old t-shirt) to gently rub the stone in small circular motions with light pressure. This will help remove dirt and debris that may accumulate on the stone’s surface over time.
To remove dust or clean the setting of your opal jewelry: dip your cloth in warm water and mild dish soap, then rub the metal. Never submerge your pieces in water or use a chemical cleaner, such as bleach, because it could damage your jewelry.
Styling Opal Jewelry
Whether you have a birthday in October or have simply fallen in love with the gemstone’s kaleidoscope of colors, discover this stunning stone in our October Birthstone Necklace - Opal. The centerpiece is set in a gold vermeil beaded border, so you can wear this long-lasting necklace for years to come. Wear this necklace on its own for a minimalist effect or layer with your favorite chain necklaces to create a bold look.
If you are looking for a dainty opal birthstone ring, opt for our Opal Ring - Isabel. Featuring a petite opal gemstone on a dainty gold or silver band, style this ring with your favorite neutral fits to accentuate the iridescent glow of the gemstone.
If your birthday isn’t in October, read our guide to birthstones to discover your month’s special stone. Or, peruse our entire collection of birthstone necklaces to find a gift for a special someone (or yourself)!