October has by now passed and we almost forgot to talk about its beloved birthstone, the wondrous opal! I suppose it would also be somewhat important to note that the stone also happens to be the choice gift for your 14th and 18th wedding anniversaries (depending on tradition)... that's just how casually cool this stone is.

 

A fiery dark green (with hints of blue) opal from Lightning Ridge in Australia

 

The opal is a hydrated amorphous form of silica and its precious form has been used in jewelry for centuries. It comes in many different colors with white and green being most common, and the red and fabled black versions the rarest.

 

The famous and rare black opal at its most fiery.

 

Interestingly enough, the stone was most favored for jewelry in the Middle Ages, and hasn’t since quite managed to recover those levels of popularity. In mystical circles it used to be the symbol of hope, innocence and purity – so much so that for much of its history it was even considered a lucky stone. Since it is easy to break while cutting or mounting on jewelry, shattering an opal during this process was considered bad luck.

 

Our very own late 1800's Victorian opal and pearl ring!

 

The gem’s good reputation was unfortunately reversed following the 1829 publication of Sir Walter Scott’s novel Anne of Geierstein, in which a character named Lady Hermione wears a magic opal that changes color along with her mood. Holy water is spilled upon it in the novel’s climactic scene, following which the poor lady falls ill and dies. Demonic manifestations, bad luck and death henceforth became associated with the stone, making it fall out of favor with the general public.

 Lady Hermione of the cursed opal herself.

Nowadays however, with a certain relaxing of folksy mysticisms in the public sphere, the opal has once more regained some popularity. There is, after all, no denying its great beauty!