October’s birthstones: Tourmaline + Opal
Opal is the traditional birthstone for October. It’s an interesting stone with a bit of a bad reputation – many people believe that it is a gemstone that brings bad luck. Most of this appears to be anecdotal and without evidence, however, many people including some of our customers swear that the introduction of an opal into their jewellery collection has coincided with some challenging life circumstances!
Opals are fascinating in that their many colours are created through a diffraction of light, from the white light that is shining on them. They are made up of water and silica (which is the main component of glass) and the colours that can be seen in each opal depend on how much silica is present (read more here).
Most of the precious opal deposits that have been discovered across the world are in Australia – over 90% of the world’s precious opal is mined here. Some of the famous mining areas in Australia include Coober Pedy, Mintabie, Andamooka, and Lightning Ridge.
Opals can be seen in a rainbow of colours, with some colours much rarer than others – one of the world’s most valuable opals, titled the ‘Virgin Rainbow’, is an incredible example of this and is part of a current exhibition at the South Australian Museum. It’s definitely worth a look, see the exhibition details here.
We haven’t made a high volume of opal jewellery pieces at PIKE, however we always enjoy the challenge of designing with them. This pendant was made using a customer’s sentimental opal, and Nicholas was looking for a beautiful complementary stone that would bring out the colours of the opal. The beautiful oval green tourmaline was the perfect stone.
Tourmaline is the alternative, modern birthstone for October. In opposition to the opal, tourmaline is declared by many to have positive and even healing properties for those who wear them. These beautiful gemstones are also available in a literal rainbow of colours.
Read more here about the stunning colours and the surprising values of these beautiful gemstones.
Tourmaline is mined in quite a few areas of the world. Traditionally, deposits of tourmaline have been found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, Burma (Myanmar), Sri Lanka, and the United States. More recently, there have been significant amounts of tourmaline found in several African countries including Tanzania, Madagascar, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Nigeria.
One fascinating thing offered by these beautiful gemstones is the opportunity of multiple colours within one stone. These two rectangular tourmalines are classified as bi-colour tourmalines – where two colours that occur naturally in an uncut tourmaline crystal are cut in such a way that both colours are included in the finished, faceted gemstone. Each stone is unique and quite striking.
We have made many beautiful pieces of jewellery at PIKE using these gorgeous stones, feel free to pop into the studio at Highgate and we can show you some of the beautiful colours.
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