Opal & Tourmaline – October Birthstones & Gemstone of the Month
Hello all you October babies! The time of the year has finally come, although not as quick as we would have liked to imagine. Waiting all year for those birthday presents might be painstakingly trying. Have no fear, the best gemstones have been saved for the end of the year and this is your time to splurge absolutely guilt free.
Have you been wondering what gemstone you should be looking at, to help liven your spirits this month? We suggest Opals and Tourmalines, the gemstones for the month of October. Their vibrant colour can bring joy to its wearer almost instantaneously. With the warm colours of summer almost coming to an end with fall, Opals and Tourmalines are just the splash of colour you need.
The two gemstones for the month of October
Let’s start with Opal
Opals, a gemstone made entirely of silicates, is a phenomenal stone. We say this because of the play of colour that can be seen in these magnificent small gemstones. Formed by silicon spheres, which are stacked upon each other, invisible to the naked eye. Each sphere plays an important role when it comes to the final play of colour seen because it breaks each ray of light into the different spectral colours, which in turn look like a rainbow upon observation.
Origins of Opal
The word Opal comes from the Greek word “opallios”, which has its roots, set in Sanskrit, translating to “upala”. This noncrystalline silicon gem, shares the same chemical composition as Quartz – one of the largest and most abundantly available gemstones on the market. Although the two have the same makeup they look completely different because Opal is a gemstone with high water content at about 20%. This has also altered the visual appearance of the gemstone by giving it a watery translucent outward impression.
#DidYouKnow Opals are distinguished based on their body colour, which could be:
1 Fire Opal: the red, orange to yellow variety
2 Black Opal: the black variety
3 White Opal: the white to milky variety
Fire Opal as the name suggests is the red, orange to yellow variety that might or might or might not display its iconic play of colour. Perfect for the colours of fall, this gemstone has larger silicon spheres, which tend to reduce the play of colour you see. In other words, the spheres do not diffract the light entering the stone that in turn breaks up into the spectral colours leaving behind only the body colour that has been absorbed. In other white and black varieties, the play of colour that can be seen is generally more pronounced as the body colour of the gem tends to act like a good backdrop to see the myriad of colours.
How to buy a natural Opal
As we continue to rave about Opals, you must be wondering how you could be sure about what you’re buying. Whether your stone is a natural and not some synthetic/stimulant flooding the market these days. We have jotted down some points to make it easier for you when 0you’re trying to find the stone of your dreams.
• Look out for different strokes of what is called pinfire and harlequin, which look like small, thin strokes of colour flashes or broad angular strokes of colour flashes respectively. Upon magnification, with a 10X loupe you will be able to better distinguish the difference between a natural stone and a synthetic counterpart. Man made goods will not change colour within each flash upon rocking and tilting and that is your biggest let in on a synthetic origin or a simulant.
Different play of colour seen in an opal
Where are Opals found?
Mined abundantly in silicon rich zones likes Australia, Mexico, Brazil and even Japan to some extent, these gems with their kaleidoscopic colours will, without doubt, leave you in awe of the mystical powers mother nature houses in her wings.
Tell me more about Tourmalines
Opal is not the only gemstone for the month of October. So if you don’t like the colours of the rainbow all fused in one gem, why not opt for the colours separately. The exciting colours that Tourmalines come in are vibrant and ideal if you’re looking for a burst of colour in your wardrobe this fall. When set in jewellery although small, these stones will make you feel alive again just before winter sets in.
#Trivia: The gem was believed to have passed through a rainbow before reaching the surface of the earth on its journey up. This is where the Egyptians deduced the gemstone picked up all its beautiful colours.
In all its glory Tourmalines can come in bright pinks, blues, greens, purples, yellows to mention a few which can almost appear to be fluorescent because of its copper content. Paraiba and Candy pink stones are some of the famous varieties based on their colour. Not only do these stones have dazzling colours but they can also transfer electricity through its makeup, which is called Piezoelectricity.
Where was Tourmaline Found?
The gem, which had a strong base in Srilanka or then Ceylon, has got its name from the Sinhalese word “Turmali” which is assumed to have meant Zircon. The exciting colours that tourmalines come in are vibrant and ideal if you’re looking for a zest of colour.
The characteristics of Tourmaline are
Tourmalines tend to display its characteristic trigonal crystal structure through the gemstone, which is what has earned it its Liddicolite nickname. Named after Richard Liddicoat, it describes varieties of the species that have high calcium and lithium contents within it, which help maintain its trigonal form.
Identification of a real Tourmaline
Tourmaline is a gemstone that should not confuse you. Its characteristic internal features will surely give its identity away to someone who knows what to look for, and you can be that someone.
When you look at the internal features for tourmalines, you should check facet junctions. Strong doubling which is characteristic to tourmaline can be seen easily. Due to the fact these stones have strong doubling they also display strong pleochroism. By this we mean you can see two different colours in different crystal directions.
Another inclusion that can give you a let in, are trichites that result because of the gemstone’s formation in a liquid filled enclosure under the earths surface. These trichites look like stringy liquid inclusions stretched out within the stone.
Tourmaline being a large species with numerous varieties, forms throughout the expanse of the world. From Srilanka to Brazil and Burma these gems develop in pegmatites similar to the Beryl family of gemstones, which is also the reason why both stones have a variety of inclusions present within them.
With all this information you are sure to get the best value and product in your budget. There won’t be any gemstone dealer or jeweller who will be able to fool you when it comes to knowledge about gemstones.
References http://www.gia.edu/opal#photos-and-videos http://www.geminterest.com/inclist.php?gem=Tourmaline:%25 http://www.gia.edu/tourmaline#photos-and-videosOpal & Tourmaline – October Birthstones & Gemstone of the Month by Chantelle