If your birthday falls in October your star sign is either Libra or Scorpio, you love or loathe Halloween and you're blessed with two birthstones at your disposal, opal and tourmaline! With drastically different cuts and colours, if you're having a hard time finding your signature gemstone then consider your birthstone.

The Meaning

Tourmaline gemstones come in almost every colour of the rainbow. Not surprisingly, this gemstone’s name is derived from the Sinhalese word “toromalli,” which means mixed gems. While it can look like many other materials, tourmaline stands on its own as one of the world’s most popular gems. The most popular tourmaline varieties range from rich reds, pinks and peach colours, to emerald greens and yellows, to blues and violets. In fact, in the past, some have mistaken tourmaline for other colourful gemstones. It can imitate fine ruby and emeralds but at much more affordable prices.

Opal is a gem formed from silica-rich waters. It takes its name from the Sanskrit word Upala which means precious stone. Lovingly dubbed "fallen stars", the opal is a truly unique stone, displaying bright flashes of colour that change at every angle, with a broad range (and unique mix) of colours represented, and distinctive patterns that range from small pinpoints of colour to large rolling flashes. The first notes of Opal mining can be traced back to the winding Carpathian Mountains in 400 BC and the gem was even penned into tales spun by the Ancient Greek Philosopher Plato.


With a hardness of 7 to 7.5, a tourmaline has a greater susceptibility to scratches than a diamond or sapphire. So, while it's still durable enough for daily wear, some prefer a harder stone for their engagement ring. Tourmaline is generally stable to light and isn’t affected by exposure to chemicals, but heat can damage a tourmaline. High heat can alter the colour, and sudden temperature change can cause fracturing. 

Opals are in the range 5.5 - 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. That’s a relatively soft gem, meaning there are a number of substances that can scratch it. If you are tough on your jewellery, make sure you choose a protective setting with metal or gems surrounding the opal or consider your opal ring like silk: beautiful but requiring a bit more care than cotton. Opals will typically contain a certain amount of moisture in the gem and loss of that moisture can cause the opal to develop a network of cracks across its surface. This is referred to as crazing. That moisture loss can be caused by storing the gem in very dry or hot conditions, or leaving it in direct sunlight for long periods of time.


- Gráinne