October's birthstones: Tourmaline and Opal

October babies are lucky enough to have two birthstones, and both can be mined in the USA! Tourmaline exists in a stunning array of colors (pink, green, and blue, to name a few), and each variety has its own unique name. Some of the most common in Maine are:

Elbaite - green tourmaline

Rubellite - pink tourmaline

Indicolite - blue tourmaline

Schorl - black tourmaline

Watermelon tourmaline - tourmaline crystals with a pink center and green outer later

One of my favorite things to do is go mining for tourmaline in Maine. Here's one necklace I've made with a fabulous "elbaite" crystal that is terminated (has a natural point) that I mined there.

Another interesting fact is that tourmaline can be "pleochroic", meaning it can be different colors when looking at the stone from different directions (for example looking from the side versus through the end of the crystal). This means that a gemcutter has to be mindful to intentionally cut the stone in the direction to display the color he/she wants to showcase. Here's an example of pleochroism in one tourmaline crystal that my husband Jared and I mined in Maine this summer:

Pretty cool, huh?

Opals are beautiful stones too, and are also found in several varieties. What makes some opals unique are their "play of color" (enhanced by their high water content), though this stunning rainbow of colors is not found in every variety of opal. Australia is most well known for their abundance of fiery opals, but they can also be found in the US in Idaho and Nevada. One variety without the rainbow flashes is named Fire Opal (rich red, orange, and yellow), and this can be found in Oregon and Washington. Here are a few samples of Washington Fire Opal that I have yet to set into jewelry:

Like I said, October babies have some fabulous options for birthstones! Which do you prefer, opal or tourmaline?

Laurie Lynn Berezin
Laurie Lynn Berezin


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