Sunday, 6 October 2013

Birthstone Unicorns - Opal

Opal is the birthstone for the month of October, along with pink tourmaline. Opals can vary in colour from the common milky white with pastel glints of rainbow colours to the rarer black opal. Like most birthstones, opal has its fair share of myths and legends surrounding it. Some are well documented, others less so. Here are just a few associated with the fascinating opal and this month I can actually say I do have a ring that contains an opal! A piece of jewellery that has been in the family a while and which I enjoy wearing from time to time.

A common myth is that opals are the ‘unlucky’ gem. In modern times this idea probably originated from the bestselling novel by Sir Walter Scott. His novel Anne of Geuerstein, written in 1829, was the story of Lady Hermione, who wore an enchanted opal in her hair. It gave off fiery red flashes when she was angry, and it sparkled beautifully when she was happy. She was falsely accused of being a demoness, and died shortly after a drop of holy water accidentally fell on her opal destroying its colour. In consequence, the European opal market was crushed within months of the novels release and remained at a low for around 50 years. Perhaps a warning to authors of the potential power of their written word!

Going back to the mid 14th century the opal was associated with the plague. It was rumoured that an opal worn by a sufferer was alight with colour right up to the patient’s death when it lost all its brilliance. But even in the 18th and 19th century opals were linked with disasters such as, famine and the fall of monarchs.

Another contributing factor to its somewhat tarnished reputation may be due to the fragility of the opal.  Compared to some gemstones the opal can be easily damaged if not treated with care. Not a gemstone to wear whilst doing the gardening or washing up!

In contrast, Queen Victoria laughed at the superstition and made no secret of her love of the opal. Frequently seen wearing them during her reign and giving her daughters fine opals when they married.

In Asia, opal is viewed as a symbol of hope.

In medieval times, all blonde maidens wanted a necklace made of opals. Thinking it prevented their hair from fading or darkening.

The opal was also thought to make a person invisible whenever he wished, and for that reason, it was called Patronus forum (patron of thieves).

The Arabs believed that opals fell from heaven in flashes of lightning whilst Ancient Greeks believed the opal gave the gift of foresight and prophecy to the wearer. It was also known as the love stone of Cupid. Cleopatra is said to have worn an opal to attract Mark Anthony.

Opals have strong spiritual respect in Aboriginal legends. It is said that their ancestors left their presence behind in opals.

Opals are also given to celebrate the 14th year of marriage.

Finally, the verse from the Gregorian Poem by unknown author;

“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.”

Well there we are, a few stories surrounding this stone. It is certainly a gem with a chequered history, but I happen to think it is a very pretty jewel and one any discerning unicorn would love to adorn its horn! On that note, why not take a look at the excerpt from Opal the Birthstone Unicorn's story. Click tab at top of page.


Happy Birthday to all celebrating this month.

32 comments:

  1. I'd love to go invisible whenever i wished

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  2. If it made one invisible, I'd even wear one!

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    1. I thought you were able to move around ninja like anyway, Alex!

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  3. Actually it's my son's birthday today, I am with him in Spain for a few days. A wonderful write about opals, much of which I had never heard of before. Thanks for a most interesting read.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Happy Birthday to your son. Enjoy your trip.

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  4. I love informative posts like this. Awesome stuff,

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    1. Thanks, Donna, glad you found it interesting.

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  5. I've always loved opals. And I love them even more now I know about their powers of invisibility!

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    1. What would we do if we could be invisible for a day? Interesting thought!

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  6. Wow, I want to go invisible too :) I never knew there was so much interesting information and legends about opals. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Opal is my birthstone, and I gotta say, I was a bit nervous when I read all those scary things about it LOL! However, there are good things, too, which is a relief! :D

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  8. I love Opals and have several. Thanks for the informative post anf the birthday wishes!

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    1. Happy birthday Siv, glad you like your opals!

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  9. I always wondered why people said such a lovely stone could be bad luck for some. Thanks, Suzanne!

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    1. It's strange how some of these myths start isn't it?

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  10. Thanks for the lesson about opals. I love learning something new every day. And its interesting to know what different cultures thought about opals over the centuries.

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    1. Thanks Stephen. Glad you learnt something new today!

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  11. Hey, I learned something new today. Opals are beautiful and one of my favourites. I'd really love an opal ring actually. X

    http://shahwharton.com/

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    1. Glad you enjoyed this post, hope you get your own opal soon!

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  12. My engagement ring when Jeff and I got together has an opal (was the cheapest ring we could find LOL!). We're still together after nearly 25 years, so it's not such a bad gemstone!
    Loved all the info about it though :)
    Suzanne @Suzannes Tribe
    x

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  13. I have 3 October birthdays and a great love for this month-it's def. my favorite. I had no idea about the opal or the impact of Sir Walter Scott's writing. Pretty dang cool, if you ask me:)

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    1. It's interesting isn't it? Thanks for stopping by today.

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  14. Hi Suzanne,

    Fascinating and a gem of a posting. If I was a medieval blond maiden, I'm sure I'd look wonderful in an opal necklace.

    Seriously, you go into such meticulous detail and for that, I'm grateful. And oops, thanks for reminding me, my son's birthday is October 10.

    Gary :)

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    1. I'm sure you'd look wonderful too, Gary! Happy birthday to your son for the 10th!

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  15. The opal is my birthstone but my mother told me I shouldn't get one because they're unlucky. I wish I'd known about the Walter Scott story before, I would have been able to tell her it was just fiction! I assumed 'unlucky' meant that because it's more fragile than most gemstones it is more likely to get damaged.

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    1. They are easily damaged but still beautiful and worth wearing for occasions.

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  16. Hi Suzanne .. October was my mother's birthday and others associated with me - it's a serious birthday month. I have an opal brooch ... and have always loved the colours ...

    Great fiction and facts you've given us here .. interesting about the Walter Scott story - shows that even then the media affected 'our' choices ...

    Cheers and happy weekend - Hilary

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    1. It's interesting isn't it? Glad you love to wear your opal brooch.

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