October's Birthstone - Opal

Opal is the Birthstone for October

First of all, congratulations to those fortunate rock hounds who took advantage of a field trip to the Klinker Opal deposit beautiful Okanagan region of British Columbia this year and uncovered personal, precious opals, dug direct from the earth with your own hands.  You lucky fortune-hunters achieved the adventure and the individual treasure of a lifetime. With such a limited window of opportunity during the brief summers in the Canadian wilderness, the rest of you just might want to be planning for next summer. Contact us anytime at Opals Canada for more information.

And for those of you with an eye on the calendar, remember that October is Opal month. Birthstones notwithstanding, opal is a gemstone of tremendous popularity.  Actually, opal is one of the most sought-after stones in the world.

They present in all shapes and sizes and come in a wide variety of colors. The most abundant and famous are white precious opals with their internally colored fire; but these are only one of a vast variety of precious opals.  Opals are all eye-catching gemstones, but like any stone which finds itself with so much beauty, there’s some superstition surrounding opal meaning.

And that is what makes it all the more desirable. Let us look at the myth of the opal and enhance its value for you, the prospective and discerning purchaser, gift giver, or recipient.

The Origin of the Giving Myth

Perhaps due to their amazing colors and the tendency of the stones to change over time due to their moisture content, opal has been at the center of several enhancing superstitions.

One of the most interesting superstitions surrounding them is based in the giving of opals as gifts. A blessing and a curse? The uncertainty surrounding a gifted opal, is that it should never be worn. Thus, it beautifies the jewelry case, but should never be worn as ones' personal pendant, bracelet, ring, watchband, ear rings, brooch, hairpin, or any other adornment. The catch, as it were, is that opals are so valuable that they must command a price to be obtained and owned. The saying is that an opal given for free, and accepted gratis becomes a harbinger of bad luck.

Indeed, it’s a bit telling that supposedly if you’re given an opal you are supposed to give the gift-giver some money in return in order to ward off bad luck. While this might seem like something out of a gem dealer’s dream, it actually seems to stem from a couple of main historical points.

First of all, opal is notoriously hard to work with, precious or not. Any lapidary artist who has worked with the material will tell you that it’s prone to a lot of problems which simply don’t happen with most other gemstones.

Their mystical appearance and difficulty to work has led to them being used in fiction, which is where opals were first associated with bad luck.

The book Anne of Geierstein by Sir Walter Scott, featured a character with a “given” opal. It doesn’t end well for Anne.

Malicious Rumors

Opal rings, in particular, have garnered something of a bad reputation.

This is partially due to the fact that there were a couple of loosely related historical incidences which involved opal rings. It also has to do with De Beers Diamond Company.

In the early 1900s, opals were being imported in vast quantities. This threatened the diamond trade, and De Beers did their usual: they ran a vast smear campaign centered on opals.

If you weren’t already aware, diamonds are the most commonly used stones in engagement rings. When opals began to threaten the diamond cartels, things went as they usually do (aka smear campaign on opals).

Most jewelers were willing to go along with the lies. Opals are hard to work with since they can crack with a limited amount of pressure applied to them compared to stones like diamonds, the fix was in.

Of course, it’s also no coincidence that opals are often paired with diamonds, which are rumored to ward off the bad luck associated with the stones.

Before the aforementioned novel and the smear campaign, opals were often considered to be good luck stones. These events are probably what inspired the “bad luck” myths of opals.

Most people these days have rightly disregarded the rumors of opals being bad luck and instead go with the stones they favor. Since each opal is unique, it’s nearly impossible to simply say that you don’t like them.

It’s safe to say you can definitely go with an opal engagement ring if that’s your fancy.

Opal Meaning and Superstition

Despite the relatively modern myths which surround these beautiful stones, they actually have a long and storied history of meaning.

Among those who believe in the mystical powers of stones opals often have the following attributed to them:

  • Enhanced vision
  • Release of inhibitions
  • Strengthened memory
  • Increased self-worth
  • Bringing loyalty, faithfulness, and spontaneity

While the modern traditions involved with crystal healing are a bit different from the older associations, they clearly show that opals are something special.

In ancient times, precious opal was considered to be a good luck charm quite frequently. Everyone from the Romans to the people living in the Middle Ages found the charming stones to be exactly the thing needed to bring fortune to the holder.

In modern times, opals are once again becoming quite popular. These timeless stones can still hold their own against the more traditional varieties of precious gems like diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds.

Despite all of this, some superstitions persist among some people.

The following negative qualities are often attributed to opal:

  • They should be worn only by those who are born in October
  • They lose their shine when their owner passes
  • Useless as a charm to those who are selfish
  • Will lead to being widowed early if used in an engagement ring

Are any of these true?

Most likely not, but it’s always good to understand both sides of the coin when you’re looking at precious stones.

Summary: The Most Unlucky Thing? Not Having Opals

Probably the only real opal meaning is that not having them is definitely worse than having some jewelry set with them.

They’re beautiful, unique stones that have withstood negative press for some time, and they’re becoming popular once more.

No reason to shy away from them, even if you hold to superstitions about stones. Keep in mind that most of the negative qualities attributed to opals can be found only within the last century.

So, in the 21st Century, come visit right now with Opals Canada for the finest stones and jewelry featuring extraordinary Canadian Opals. And maybe even plan that trip to dig your own in the near future...