Opal for October
October’s child is born for woe,
And life’s vicissitudes must know,
But lay an opal on her breast,
And hope will lull those woes to rest.
What a woeful beginning and what a delightful end that birthstone poem has… Born for sorrow and hardships, but the opal can be your Prince Charming!
The name opal may have been derived from the Sanskrit word upala or the Latin word opalus, meaning ‘precious’. It is a soft stone that has gone through much—it is formed in near-surface volcanic rocks—and comesin a multitude of colours. Though the colours of the opal are praised to the heavens, the legend behind it is heart wrenching.
According to Birthstones and The Lore of Gemstones by Willard Heaps, the gods Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu fell in love with the same woman and started vying for her. This angered the Eternal God who transformed the fair maiden into a mist-like creature. But the three gods gave her their own colours in order to recognise her. Brahma bestowed the blue of the heavens upon her while Shiva gave her his flaming red. Vishnu endowed her with a golden hue. But the woman being mist-like, she was whisked away by the winds and all the efforts of the gods were in vain. Later the Eternal God took pity on the woman and turned her into a stone that shone with all the colours of the rainbow—the magnificent opal.
The opal has always been a symbol of love and hope. It is believed to have healing properties as well as the power to enhance one’s creativity, soothe one’s nerves and also improve one’s memory. It is rightly called the ‘anchor of hope’ by the people of the Orient.Several other nations believed that the stone would bring good fortune and wealth for the wearer. Many consider it an extremely lucky stoneas it possesses the colours of various gemstones and so,possesses their virtues as well.
But then the opal came to be associated with thieves and spies who believed that the stone had the power to make the wearer invisible.The poor opal fell into further disrepute through the Middle Ages too where it was associated with the plague. The stone, which changes colour or turns brilliant depending on body heat, was blamed for the plague. It then took the likes of Shakespeare to return the stone to its past glory and term it the ‘queen of gems’.
The ultimate opal is one that has broad patterns on its surface and also possesses a vivid play of colour. However, an Australian black opal is a stunner, and by no way is it any less in demand. Opals are mainly divided into three subgroups—the opalescent precious opals, fire opals, and the common opal. While the precious opal boasts a rainbow-like radiance, the fire opals stay true to their name and look like pieces of fire with its mix of red, orange and yellow hues. The common opal, on the other hand, is opaque and usually has no play of colour.Each opal is bound to be different from the other; so when choosing jewellery or loose stones to make into jewellery, make sure you choose those that are more you.