October Birthstones: A Colorful Guide to Opal & Tourmaline

Updated April 8, 2021
White opal and pink tourmaline stones

Traditionally, October's birthstone has been the soft and dazzling opal. In recent years the opal has had to move over and share the spotlight with the pink tourmaline, which is now the alternative stone for October. Both stones are beautiful but have little in common with each other regarding coloring and history. There is much to learn about both of these October birthstones.

October Birthstones: Why Two?

At some point, many were concerned that the opal was too feminine for all tastes; thus, tourmaline was added to October's birth gem repertoire. More recently, the pink shade of tourmaline was designated for the month of October. Concerning having two birthdate stones, you will probably hear zero complaints from those with October birthdates, as anyone would be fortunate to have two gorgeous birthstones to choose from.

The Opal: October's Traditional Stone

Opals are gemstones valued for their flash of rainbow colors. The name opal is derived from the Latin word, Upala, meaning "precious stone." Most opal is over 50 million years old and was formed as silica. The stone, when moved and exposed to light, omits flashes of colors from within the stone. Colors of blue, green, aqua, and sometimes yellow and red can be seen in the stone.

Opal stone on ring

The Varying Colors and Properties of the Opal

The rarest and most expensive opal is the black opal. It has a dark base color and flashes of red and yellow within it. The more common opal is the light opal, which is either crystal or milky colored. The stone contains flashes of rainbow colors and is widely available. Another opal variation is natural opal. This variation is not treated and is often cut into more designs to enhance the stone's natural beauty. While these are the most commonly referenced opals, there are many more opal options available, including:

  • Water opals
  • Fire opals
  • Contraluz opals
  • Boulder opals
  • Hydrophane opals
  • Cacholong opals
  • Jasper opals
  • Moss opals

Opal Mining

Opals are mined in several pockets of the world, with Australia being the most notable opal mining area. The Czech Republic and Slovak Republic, Brazil, Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia, and Mexico are also suppliers of varying opal stone types.

Ancient Lore of Opal

The Romans thought the opal was the symbol of hope and purity, believing that those wearing opal would be safe from disease. Arabic people believed that opals fell from heaven in lightning flashes, while the Greeks thought opals gave them foresight and prophecy abilities. Australian indigenous people believed opals held spiritual value and represented something left behind by their ancestors as a sign of their presence.

Over the years, opal's lore has ranged from good luck and positivity to poor luck and negative connotations. This stone has a rich history in story and has afforded humans the ability to choose what they think of the mysterious stone.

Pink Tourmaline, a New October Birthstone

This stunning stone was initially discovered off the coast of Italy in the late 1600s or early 1700s. The name tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese term turmali. The name was given to all colored crystals off of the Sri Lankan coast. It reflected gem dealers' inability to differentiate this unique stone from other widely recognized stones of similar colors. In fact, the first green tourmalines were thought to be emeralds, and pink tourmaline was often mistaken for rubies. Once thought to be comprised of rubies, the jewels in Russian crowns are now thought to be made of pink tourmaline.

Pink Tourmaline stone

The Varying Colors and Properties of Pink Tourmaline

Tourmaline can be found in a wide array of colors, more colors than any other gemstone, with pink being the designated stone for October. The pink tourmaline gets its color from manganese and other metals present in the crystal structure and is the rarest of the tourmaline gems. Years ago, each color of tourmaline had its own name, but now the colors are all referred to as tourmaline with the solar of the stone in front of the name. The price of this colorful stone ranges greatly, from $50 a carat for a yellow tourmaline with dull clarity and cut to $10,000 for a coveted and rare Paraiba Tourmaline.

Tourmaline Mining

Over time, tourmaline has been mined throughout several areas of the globe. Since the 1980s, Brazil's Paraíba area has been a major player in the tourmaline game, producing some of the most striking stones in the world. Madagascar and Afghanistan have become synonymous with the bright red tourmaline stone, and today mines are located in so many corners of the world. Today there are active mines in India, Australia, Switzerland, the United States, Canada, and parts of Africa, to name a few.

Benefits and Power of Tourmaline

Like so many other stones, tourmaline is thought to be of far more use than beauty and aesthetics. The beliefs regarding the stone's powers varied greatly and depended on what part of the world the stone was used in.

  • A Dutch scientist claimed that when tourmaline was wrapped in silk and placed against the body, it could bring sleep to a feverish child.
  • In Africa, the stone was used to awake from "the dream of illusion."
  • In India, the stone was used to bring about good and promote insight.
  • Native Americans use tourmaline to protect against dangers.

Ancient Lore of Tourmaline

Ancient Egyptians had a fascinating relationship and belief about tourmaline. They thought that these stones earned their vibrant coloring from breaking through a rainbow as they pushed their way up from the earth's core. The ancient Egyptians believed that the stone could heal ailments ranging from nervous system disorders to blood diseases and lymph gland irregularities.

Pink Tourmaline Powers

Pink tourmaline, specifically, is thought by many to aid in emotional and mental health and wellness. The stone is representative of love, sympathy, and humanitarianism. Of all the tourmaline stones, the pink one radiates the most intense amount of love. It is meant for those with pain in their hearts as it is believed to gently remove emotional pain and mitigate disruptive and negative feelings. Pink tourmaline is also thought to guide those experiencing anxiety and panic attacks into emotionally safe harbors.

October Gemstones: Beautiful Baubles

When it comes to gemstones, October birthdate babies have it made. They can choose from demure opal or fiery, bright pink tourmaline. When it comes to gems, one can truly never have enough of them. Lucky are the October-born who get both stones to proudly wear.

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October Birthstones: A Colorful Guide to Opal & Tourmaline