While Opals are beautiful gemstones that look stunning on anyone, for those born in October, it has an extra touch of meaning. Opal is the traditional and modern birthstone for the month of October (along with the birthstone tourmaline).
The word ‘Opal’ is said to be a derivative of the Sanskrit word upala meaning precious stone as well as the Greek opallios meaning ‘to see a change of color’. This magical gemstone comes in a range of varieties, to suit every style and preference. Whether you prefer dark or light stones, colorful or subdued, there’s an Opal out there that suits you.
As the October birthstone, Opal is replete with symbolism and meaning. But what is the meaning of the word Opal?
Throughout much of history, Opals were considered good luck and among the most magical of gemstones. Because of their highly desirable play of colors and stunning natural attributes, the Opal was highly valued and coveted. Opal used to be considered the stone of kings. During the Roman times, it was much sought-after and considered second only to emerald gemstones. History tells us that the Roman Caesars presented their wives with Opals because it was believed that opals would bring good luck to the wearer. Opals were worn and carried around like an amulet, believed to bring protection and good fortune.
Opals symbolize confidence, loyalty and are seen as representing hope, purity, happiness and faithfulness. Whether it’s true or not, these are all good concepts that add an extra touch of meaning to the gemstone.
While many don’t believe in the healing powers of gemstones anymore, there are some who still value the therapeutic properties of a gemstone. People believed that Opals could heal various diseases, including eye disease. It was seen as being able to ward off evil and keep the wearer safe. For those with blond hair, Opals were thought to be able to preserve the color and keep it from turning dark.
Humans have been enthralled by the idea of invisibility since ancient times. At one stage in time, Opals were thought to give the owner the power of invisibility! Who wouldn’t want to own a stone that rendered the wearer invisible? However, because of this connotation, some people associated Opals with thieves and robbers, claiming that Opals protected them and gave them the power to hide. This earned the beautiful gemstone the unfair moniker – Patron of Thieves. While finding out if this was actually true would have been very easy (didn’t anyone think of wearing an Opal and checking if they turned invisible?) the myth persisted until recently.
While Opals were coveted for their supposed ability to bring good luck, there was a period in time when this beautiful gemstone was associated with bringing misfortune. This is largely due to the publication of a novel by Sir Walter Scott, Anne of Geierstein, in which the main character, Anne, wore an Opal which changed colors to reflect her moods. In the finale of the story, the Opal’s fire was quenched when holy water was sprinkled on it and the lady died soon after. This story became widespread and Opals began to be associated with bad luck and evil spirits.
In addition to this, many jewelers refused to work with Opals as they are very difficult to cut and shape due to their fragility and there was always the chance that the stone could shatter. As a result, people began to correlate Opals with misfortune. Other stories cropped up relating illness, disease and death to opals and the stone began to fall out of favor. While Opals have overcome most of their bad reputation, they still persist (to a much lower degree). Interestingly, it is believed that the bad luck would not affect those born in October, as it is their birthstone . While these views prevailed in the West, in Asian countries, Opals continued to symbolize hope and good luck and for the aboriginal people of Australia, it was viewed as the stone of Gods. While we now know that Opals don’t cause bad luck, it’s clear that the stone itself has suffered some bad luck due to all these unfair associations.
Today Opals are valued for their beauty and is highly coveted in jewelry. Opals have overcome these unfair negative connotations and remain a stunning gemstone, not only for those born in October, but for all lucky enough to own one.
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