Opal is the birthstone for October. — It is a precious stone which has in it the bright fiery flame of a Carbuncle, the pure refulgent purple of an Amethyst, and a whole sea of Emeralds spring glory, or virescence, end every one of them shining with incredible mixture, and very much pleasure: so that this can’t easily be counterfeited or adulterated as other jewels may.
Boeticus says of Opal, that it is the fairest and most pleasing of all other jewels, by reason of its various colors.
Cardanus says that he bought one for 15 crowns, that he took as much pleasure in, as he could do in a Diamond of 50 aureos (Latin – Gold).
OCTOBER BIRTHSTONE COLOR
In many of Opals do appear Sky-color, Purple, Green, Yellow, Red, and sometimes a Black and White or Milky color; but we must not think that all these colors are severally in the jewell, for break but the Opal, and all the variety of colors do perish; by which it doth appear that the variety of colors in the Opal, arises from the reflection of one or more colors; as sometimes is seen in the Rainbow, and may be experienced in a triangular Crystal, where the alone reflection of the light upon the angles, or corners of Crystal, do in the Crystal produce various colors, which otherwise is diaphanous, perfectly transparent, clear, and without color.
The finest species of Opals emit also the yellow of the Topaz and the blue of the Sapphire. Opal is, in one word, a natural prism, which, like the soap bubble or the three cornered glass, de-compounds the sunbeam into its elements. About the cause of this decomposition «doctors disagree». Brewster’s theory seems the most plausible, viz. that this cause is the existence of fissures and cracks in the interior of the mass.
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OCTOBER BIRTHSTONE NAMES
Professor Nicol notices nine varieties of Opals, all possessing more or fewer of the same general characteristics, Our space will permit our touching; on but one.
We may premise, that the name of Opal is derived from the Greek «δps», eye-the Greeks, who highly valued Opal, believing it to have the power of strengthening the eye. We may add here, to save a fresh reference, that the Greeks fancied it had the effect to conciliate universal good will to its possessor, and therefore named Opal also «paiderδs», i. e. love of children. In the «Apocalypse», Saint John compares the Celestial City, as a whole, to Opal, as exhibiting all colors at once.
The finest of the Opal species is called the precious or noble Opal. Nicols names various parts of the East as producing it, Recent writers contradict him and say that Hungary, Saxony, the Faroe Islands, and South America are its native localities. Opal is found in small gangs and nests of the volcanic porphyry formation.
OCTOBER BIRTHSTONE IN JEWELRY
Opal is used for rings, necklaces and diadems; the smaller specimens for mounting snuff-boxes, rings, etc. It still stands in very high estimation, though probably not so high as among the Romans, in whose day it was said, that Nonius, a Roman Senator, chose banishment rather than surrender splendid Opal to Mark Anthony. Opal’s present estimation may be judged from the fact that a single large Opal was lately sold in Europe for 150,000 dollars. Opal has never yet been imitated.
The Imperial Mineralogical Cabinet at Vienna contains a precious Opal weighing seventeen ounces; and among the French Jewels is a cloak-el-asp mounted with an Opal, valued at 37, 500 francs. It is surrounded with 197 other Brilliants.
Of the other eight species of Opal we will not here speak, since some idea of them may be gotten from the above description. We can’t better close, than by a touch from our friend Nicols on the «vertues of Opal».
OCTOBER BIRTHSTONE MAGIC & SYMBOLISM
It is reported of Opal, that it sharpens the sight of the processors of it, and cloudeth the eyes of those that stand about him, so that they can either not see or not mind what is done before them: for this case Opal is asserted to be safe patron of thieves and thefts; as it is related in Lapidario.
OCTOBER BIRTHSTONE AS A MINERAL
Opal is used to be found near Freiberg in Saxony, but is at present met with only near Kasehau in Upper Hungary.
From want of hardness and of crystalline form, the Opal can scarcely be ranked among the gems. It has, however, in all ages and countries been very highly esteemed.
Among the eastern nations at the present day the Opal ranks higher than it does in Europe; nor is this to be wondered at. From the general seclusion in which not only women, but even men of rank, pus the greater part of their time, the pleasure derived from the possession of gems must depend in a great measure on their intrinsic beauty, on the degree in which they are capable of gratifying, without satiating the taste or vanity of their owners.
In Europe, on the contrary, (with the exception of a few amateurs), gems are considered as mere ornaments being admired less on their own account than for the general homage that they receive from others. Hence the brilliancy, the far-darting luster of a jewel, the-distance from which it con-centers the gaze of by standers on its wearer, is its supreme, merit among us.
The color and fire of the Opal require a near inspection for a full enjoyment of, their beauty, which undoubtedly greatly detracts from its Worth as an ornament.
Fine Opal are extremely rare, and are generally used for ear-drops and rings; sometimes, however, they are set with group and clusters of other gems. When plates of porphyry (The matrix of Opal) can be, procured sufficiently rich in veins of Opal, they form a superb material for snuff-boxes, and similar articles.
Opal is, upon die whole, too soft and fragile to endure the ordinary process of the lapidary; it requires the utmost management in working, and a, moment of inattention is sufficient to destroy its beauty. It is always cut en cabochon.