ASTRO STONE OF THE MONTH – OCTOBER

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Opal & Tourmaline: Dual Symbols Of Hope And Peace

People born in the month of October come under the purview of the zodiac sign of Libra. Librans can be characterized by their balanced approach, brilliant skills of diplomacy, superior intellect and very logical mind. They are therefore very gifted when it comes to analyzing tough situations and coming up with apt solutions.

Opal and Tourmaline are the birthstones for people born in this month. Both these dual coloured gemstones are known for their vivid display of colours and beauty and are highly prized across the world for their spectacular radiance, unique colour combinations and crystal structures.

About the Gemstones:

The ancient Roman civilisation was known to prize opals greatly as a symbol of hope and wish fulfillment, and it was christened as the ‘Anchor of Hope’, by the people of the Orient. Legends tell the tale of Queen Cleopatra’s ploy to wear a magnificent set of opals to attract the attention of Mark Anthony, the ruler of Rome.

Queen Victoria, a great believer in the power of gemstones was also said to wear them in her crown, to protect herself and her regime from enemies and all kinds of evil. Interestingly, the Russians believed Opals to be evil and never allowed them to be used in jewellery of any kind.

Unlike Opals, Tourmalines are a fairly recent discovery and per se don’t have any such legends attached to them. However this gemstone has quite a reputation as a – Stone of Peace – and is supposed to repel all kinds of negative emotions like jealousy, anger, fear and aggression, thereby ensuring that the wearer remains calm and balanced in all situations.

Mystical Powers:

According to some legends, Opal fell to the Earth, when lightning struck it and they had the power to make the wearer invisible to others. Not surprisingly, Opals began to be highly sought-after by pirates, spies and thieves.

On the positive side, its unique ability to change colour was believed to indicate the health and mental state of the wearer. Many believed the opal brought immense good fortune to the wearer as the stone possessed the virtues of each gemstone whose color was captured by the Opal’s spectrum of colors. As a result, the stone was considered lucky and is also associated with purity, innocence, hope and faith.

Opal is also said to posses healing properties and is believed to hold the remedy for enhancing one’s creativity, calming nerves and strengthening memory. The tourmaline on the other hand is believed to have more psychological effects than physical.

The gemstone is said to help the wearer retain calm under the most stressful situations, enhance creativity and control negative emotions.

Famous Personalities Born in OCTOBER:

  • Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi. Oct 02. 1869.
  • Actor & Bollywood legend:  Amitabh Bachchan. Oct 11. 1942.
  • Actor Parineeti Chopra. Oct 22. 1988.
  • Actor Asin Thottumkal. Oct 26. 1985.
  • Former President of India Abdul Kalam. Oct 15. 1931.
  • Actor Sunny Deol. Oct 19. 1956.
  • Actor Rekha Ganesan. Oct 10. 1954.
  • Actor Freida Pinto. Oct 18. 1984.

(Disclaimer: The information provided here is purely for entertainment and reference purposes only.)

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ASTRO STONE OF THE MONTH – OCTOBER

OPALS: The Chameleon of the Gem Universe

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The beautiful gem Opal has been one of the strongest jewellery trends over the past decade. The gemstone came into spotlight when Cartier used it prominently in its famed 2008 “Chimera collection” at the Biennale des Antiquaries in Paris.

Today, this stone is an integral part of most jewellery houses, its mystery and vivacity in perfect sync with the rising interest in spirituality and awareness of the environment.

Where Are They Found?

The best Opals are mainly found in sedimentary rock deposits in places like Queensland and New South Wales in Australia, which accounts for roughly 95% of the global production. Opals are also found in countries like USA, Mexico, Brazil, Canada and Slovakia, among others.

Types & Colours:

The two primary varieties of this gemstone are precious opal and common opal. A precious opal is known by its characteristic play of colours and is quite rare. Common opals also called “potch”, do no exhibit this trait and are found in abundance across the world.

Interestingly almost 90-95% of opals are of the common, single-coloured variety (white, grey & black), while approximately 5% have ‘some’ colour. Less than 1% of opals have real “value”.

What makes the opal truly unique is its ability to display all the colours of the spectrum depending on the angle it is held. This ‘play of colours’ is caused by the interference and diffraction of light when it passes through the small silica spheres that make up its interiors.

How are Opals Formed?

Opals are basically a combination of water and silicon dioxide. Water flowing through cracks in sandstone picks up tiny particles of silica. Over a long period of time, this solution solidifies into a hard gel like substance to form opals. Opals have also been found in fossilized shell, wood and bone.

An opal therefore cannot be called a crystal, but rather an amorphous solid. According to experts this was also the process that preceded the formation of opals in volcanic areas of inland Australia about 70 million of years ago.

The secret behind their ‘Colour’:

Only the best quality opals have the ability to refract colours. This is due to the diffraction of white light by its silica spheres and voids which then dissipates it into a rainbow of colours.  Again it’s the size and space between such spheres that decides the colour of the opal itself.

The more commonly found blue opals are the result of smaller spheres, while the extremely rare red variety is formed by much larger spheres. One of rarest opals in the world (Harlequin Opal) is known for its ability to display colour patterns akin to a checkerboard.

Are Opals Unlucky?

Many people do seem to think so, but this belief is more the result of a silly myth, than any real evidence.  And the (mis) credit for this goes to Sir Walter Scott’s bestselling 1829 novel, Anne of Geuerstein.

The novel tells the story of Lady Hermione, who is falsely accused of being a demoness, and dies shortly after a drop of holy water accidentally falls on her opal and destroys its color.

It was just a piece of fiction that readers misinterpreted as the truth. Within months of its publication, the opal market crashed and prices were down 50%. But mercifully the market revived yet again nearly half a decade later with the chance discovery of an amazing black opal in New South Wales (Australia) in 1877.

Myths & Legends:

Opals have a very long history and there are many myths pertaining to the stone. In ancient times, opals were a symbol of fidelity and later a tool for emotional prayer. Opals are also believed to have curative properties for vision-related problems.

Others believed that when worn as an amulet they had the power to make the wearer immune to any disease and enhanced his mental faculties. The opal is also a symbol of justice and peace and is used as divine protection in dangerous places.

Expert Tip: Opals contain between 5-20% water which tends to dry out eventually making the stones soften and prone to cracks. Interestingly enough, it’s these very cracks and imperfections that are also responsible for one of its biggest attributes – their colour or fire. Opals with cracks that are visible to the naked eye are considered to be of an inferior quality.

OPALS: The Chameleon of the Gem Universe