When it comes to kaleidoscopic color, there is no rival to the illustrious opal. October’s birthstone has been compared to rainbows, fireworks, tye-dye, and sunsets, demonstrating the wide variety of colors and patterns on this mesmerizing stone. If you ask me, the opal is the ultimate example of nature showing off, and all you lucky October birthdays get to show off opal in your jewelry.
What is Opal?
Most gemstones are minerals, but opal is actually a mineraloid, because it’s composed of up to 20% water! Opal is a mixture of silica and water deposited in rock fissures (that’s a fancy word for cracks) at low temperatures. Opals come in a huge variety of colors and patterns, like the colored disco ball of gemstones. They can be anywhere from opaque to iridescent. Some opals sparkle like diamonds and some even seem to glow from the inside with their neon colors. Groovy!
There are so many different types of opal it would be impossible for me to list them all in a blog, but one of my favorite varieties is the Boulder Opal. As the name implies, Boulder Opals are formed inside huge ironstone boulders underground. The layers of opal are so thin that some of the iron stone needs to be left on the back in order to form a gemstone. Thus, boulder opals are easily distinguishable by the layer of dark ironstone on the back.
Caring for Opal Jewelry
Because of that high water content, opal is a very soft and porous stone. You need to be very delicate with your opal jewelry, because it is easily scratched and not as durable as other stones. Be sure not to wear opal jewelry if you’re planning on doing vigorous physical activity. (Probably not the right piece for the gym!) Be sure to only clean your opal jewelry with very mild soap and a soft brush. Hard bristles will scratch it.
Opal is such a fun stone to play with because of the huge range of colors, textures, and shapes. In fact, no two opals are exactly alike. Opals are often cut into abstract or freeform shapes to maximize the color play in the gem. Opal’s rainbow hues make it ideal for mixing and matching with other stones and a variety of metals, which means your options are basically limitless. Of course, sometimes too many options can be overwhelming, so here are some of my favorite opal styles for a little inspiration!
October Birthstone Stack
Surprise! October has an alternative birthstone, tourmaline, which also happens to come in lots of different colors. (Seriously, how lucky can you be?) Tourmaline is known as a trickster stone because it’s often mistaken for other precious gems.
This super-fun, colorful stack pairs rainbow opals with red, green, and blue tourmaline. As I explain in The Art of Layering and Stacking, every good stack starts with a simple base, in this case the Meteor Shower ring in pink tourmaline (top). Then, you add a larger anchor piece, such as the Sunbeam Ring in opal (second from the top.) Finally, you can add as many accent pieces as you want! Here, I went with four Sparkling Stream rings: grean, blue, and pink tourmaline, plus an opal. I also included one Bubbling Brook in opal. So fun!
Pulling Out Pink
Rather than playing with lots of colors at once, it’s sometimes nice to highlight a certain shade within the opal. By using other stones and metals in a single color, you can draw attention to that same shade within the opal stone. In this stack, I paired a Bubbling Brook ring in opal with two dainty rose gold Dandelion Bloom rings in ruby and diamond. This really enhances the opal’s pink tones. Plus, it demonstrates how opals are great for mixing metals!
Playing with Texture
Speaking of mixing metals, this gorgeous necklace stack is also a fun way to combine different metals and textures. From bottom to top, it features the Bright Bubble in opal. This particular necklace is available in multiple chain styles. It’s shown here with a brand-new Dewdrop Chain in rose gold. Then comes the Seashell Speckle in silver followed by the Veiled Horizon necklace in rose gold. I love how the two-tone style pulls the whole stack together! The multi-colored opal is the final touch to this eclectic look.
I love all gemstones, but there’s no denying that opal is extra special. This stone’s captivating display of color stands out from the crowd, making it the perfect October birthday gift for yourself or your loved one. Even if your birthday isn’t in October, you might still want to get in on that opal magic. No judgment here!