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Getting to Know the Opal and the Tourmaline: October’s Two Famous Birthstones 

While both opals and tourmalines are some of the most recognizable of gemstones, they are unique from other stones in countless ways. When it comes to choosing a piece, all of us at Sorg Jewelers want our clients to feel completely in the loop from start to finish. Join us on this month’s double birthstone journey as we uncover and learn about the history and lore surrounding the opal and the tourmaline. 

Opal: The Stone of Love and Hope 

Opals are commonly found in literature, having been compared to volcanoes, galaxies, fireworks, and just about anything beautiful this world has to offer. Poetic names have long been used to describe the stunning stone, racking up titles like Pandora, Light of the World, and Empress. In ancient Rome, this gem was thought to signify the presence of love and hope in each who owned one. 

The Variety of Opals 

While we now know that opals can come in different shades, from fire opals to black the Roman scholar Pliny was the first to study this distinction in 75AD. As he observed, “Some opali carry such a play within them that they equal the deepest and richest colors of painters. Others…simulate the flaming fire of burning sulphur and even the bright blaze of burning oil.” How could this one gem alone encapsulate the red of ruby, the green of emerald, the yellow of topaz, the blue of sapphire, and the purple of amethyst? It had to be supernatural. 

Ghostly Opals 

It wouldn’t be right if one of our October birthstones didn’t have some spooky superstitions. Since its discovery, the opal has been thought to derive from supernatural origins and powers.  As Arabic rumor has it, the first opal ever fell from the heavens in flashes of lightning. History has regarded the opal as the luckiest and most magical of all gems because it contains every color imaginable. 

Tourmaline: The Chameleon Stone’s Discovery

As legend states, the first tourmaline was found by a Spanish conquistador in the 1500s. As he washed the dirt and grime from a green tourmaline crystal, he confused the gem with the already popularized emerald. This confusion was long-lived until scientists recognized tourmaline as a distinct mineral species in the early 1800s. The name tourmaline itself means, “mixed gems” in Sinhalese, alluding to the confusion it caused each person who came in contact with it. Dutch merchants used this term to point to these multicolored, water-worn pebbles that miners found in Sri Lanka.

The Stone for Creatives and Illusions

18th Century literature claimed that the tourmaline was helpful if worn by artists, actors, authors and any person in a creative field. The stone was thought to help channel inspiration to the wearer and bring forth the most creative and successful ideas. Many places in Africa, tourmaline was used to awaken one from “the dream of illusion.” Similar ancient ceremonies in India included the use of the gem as a tool to bring insight and aid in the discovery of “all that which is good”. It was thought that wearing the tourmaline would make known who or what was the cause of evil in the community.

At Sorg Jewelers we pride ourselves on service, having offered outstanding guidance and craftsmanship for over 120 years. From custom pieces to folkloric traditions, we have you covered from the moment you walk through our doors. Have more questions about the world of either Opals or Tourmalines? Do you have a stone you’d like to see a deep dive done on? Let us know! Visit our website for more!