Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Birthstone: October

Opal vs Tourmaline

October is another one of those fun months with more than one traditionally recognized birthstone.
The first is the Opal, or "Opalus" the name for "precious jewel" in Latin. They date back to prehistoric times; to put it in perspective, dinosaurs were stomping around as these precious gems were being formed. Most that are mined today are around 50-65 million years old. They are created when non crystallized silica combines with ground water and hardens in cracks and cavities underground.
The majority of quality opal are found in southern Australia. Other sources are Brazil, Mexico and Czechoslovakia. Although they are known for their milky white and iridescent colors, black opal can be found in South Wales. These are very rare and often cost more per carat than some diamonds. Their intensity and color are a factor in determining their value.

As of 1912, the American National Association of Jewelry adopted the pink tourmaline as the official birthstone for October. In addition to the range of pink hues, tourmaline can be found in just about any color from black (most common) to colorless. The very popular "watermelon" variety have a stunning color fade from pink to green. Many of these stones have a dichroic effect meaning that they appear to change color when viewed from different angles.
What's more fascinating, is the pyroelectric properties of the tourmaline. When heated, they take on a static electric charge and have the ability to move small objects.

Although tourmaline aren't as popular as say the ruby or sapphire, you will occasionally see them paired with other precious stones to create some very impressive pieces. Lara Spencer, co-host of The Insider and Entertainment Tonight, rocked an amazing pink tourmaline ring and bracelet set at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards this year. I wouldn't have thought to pair tourmaline and turquoise, but it works!

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