Birthstone Series: October's Opal

This post is the next in a series of twelve discussing the creation and meaning of the different birthstones. The concept of birthstones dates to the Breastplate of Aaron described in the Bible. The breastplate was a ceremonial religious piece of armor set with twelve gemstones representing the twelve tribes of Israel and corresponding with the twelve months of the year. The birthstone associated with October is Opal.

   Stone Origins and Meaning

   Opal is comprised of the mineral silica. Interestingly, 20 percent of the gem’s mass is water that is trapped in the silica structure. On the Mohs hardness scale, which measures relative hardness and resistance to scratches, opal falls between 5 and 6.5. To provide some perspective, diamond falls at 10 and the mineral tale is a 1. Around 90% of the world’s opal comes from Australia. In the old days, opal was considered to be beneficial to the eyes and many wore it to cure eye diseases. Additionally, the gem has strong associations with magic. Black opal in particular was believed to help magicians channel their powers.

   How to Wear Opal

   Opal wasn’t traditionally worn as jewelry until modern times. The gem has been fashioned into some of the finest pieces of jewelry around. The gem isn’t the most popular, however, because of the relative ease with which it scratches. As mentioned before, opal is pretty soft on the Mohs scale (5 to 6.5) compared to, say, sapphire, which falls at a 9. Because of this, opal must be worn with strong metal settings and the wearer should take great care to protect the gem from harm. That being said, it is perfect for those who are looking to wear something different.


   Inspired by history and fantastic story of the opal? At Hannoush Jewelers, we feature a beautiful collection of opal jewelry at our Albany, NY location. Have questions? Feel free to stop by our store or contact us here. We’d love to chat and answer any questions you might have.