When I started reading about these two gemstones, I discovered that they both have associations with rainbows. In Australian aboriginal legend, when the Creator came down from Heaven on a rainbow, the stones that his foot touched started to sparkle in the colours of the rainbow and thus was opal born. In ancient Egyptian legend, tourmaline came from the centre of the earth and over a rainbow, taking all of its colours with it, including pink. I’m surprised that with all these rainbows, October’s birth animal isn’t a unicorn! ( No, there is no such thing as a birth animal for each month!)
Opal has long been known and loved in many cultures and times. The nomadic Arabians believed that opals were magic stones, infused with lightning that fell from heaven during thunderstorms. Hindu legends state that the first opal was created when the Mother Goddess changed the Virgin Goddess of the rainbow into an opal because she was being pursued by Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Sounds like these guys had been hanging around with Bacchus!( See February’s blog on Amethyst) Speaking of the ancient Romans, they believed that Opal was the most powerful of the stones because it contained the colours of all the other stones. Opal was highly prized for thousands of years until a series of unfortunate events led to the belief that it was unlucky for anyone other than those born in October to wear. Fortunately, this is no longer the case and many wear and enjoy this beautiful gem.
Opals come in many different colours and each one is associated with a different chakra. For example, fire opal is a stone for the sacral chakra while white precious opal is a stone for all the chakras. There are too many colours and types of opals to list all the chakra associations here, but there are many excellent books that can guide you in this area. Personally, I think that any kind of opal would make you feel generally good-they are all so beautiful!
Opal is a hydrated silica gel and contains 5-30% water. It is 5.5-6.5 on the Mohs scale so it is on the soft side and care needs to be taken when setting it. It can dehydrate over time and some people store their opal jewellery with moist cotton balls to keep them from drying out and cracking. These issues are not present with synthetic opals which look just as pretty, but are much more durable. You may want to take into account the colour of the opals that you are using when you are deciding whether to set them in silver or gold. Whatever you make with them, let them be the stars in the piece.
Tourmaline has a very interesting property.When heated or rubbed, it can become electrically charged, with one end of the crystal being negative and the other positive. When caused by heating, this is known as pyroelectricity and when caused by rubbing, piezoelectricity. The Dutch traders who brought tourmaline to Europe in the 1700s knew about this and used the charged crystals, called aschentrekkers or ash pullers to, you guessed it, pull ashes from their pipes, I think I would rather wear tourmalines, but to each his own!
Pink tourmaline corresponds to the heart chakra. This is a stone to heal old emotional wounds and create a feeling of calm and comfort. Meditating with a pink tourmaline can help us to recognize emotional patterns that are not aligned with our spiritual path and to change them.
Tourmaline has a hardness of 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale. It can be brittle and must be set carefully. However, it is a beautiful stone and comes in many other colours than pink. Silver may be better with paler stones, while the ones with more saturated colour can certainly hold their own next to gold. Or how about a piece that uses opal and pink tourmaline together for doubly beautiful birthstone jewellery? Even if you’re not an October baby, you deserve something made with one or both of these lovely gems!