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October’s Opal: A History and Superstition

While we firmly believe that the beauty of a given stone should not be confined to any particular type of person, not everybody used to share the same belief about the opal. This gem, of course, makes for a stunning, modern accessory for anyone who finds themselves drawn to its opulent and iridescent face. So then what, exactly, is the superstitious history behind October’s birthstone? Just in time for Halloween, we’re here to share the tales with you.

Unlucky, Unlucky, Unlucky.

Forget walking under ladders or opening an umbrella indoors; old wives tales and folklore once perpetuated the original myth that the opal was, generally speaking, an unlucky stone. As time progressed, however, the superstition evolved into the belief that the gem was only unlucky to those who wore it despite not being born in October, and others believe it was unlucky unless worn with a diamond. Furthermore, from these rumors stemmed other fictional stories, such as Sir Walter Scott’s Anne of Geierstein, wherein the wearer of an opal would suffer strange and fantastical tragedies or deaths.

Falling Out of Royal Favor

Rumors of bad luck aside, what else made the general populace turn away from the vivid opal? For one, Medieval Europeans had believed the opal to be a significant figure of the “Evil Eye,” and opals would also come to be associated with the Black Plague. Plus, in the 19th Century, King Alfonso XII of Spain obtained what was said to be a cursed opal ring. The ring was allegedly gifted to King Alfonso in 1898 by a countess from his past and, upon gifting it to his wife, Queen Mercedes, she apparently pined away and died unexpectedly. From that point on, the ring circulated from owner to owner, each one dying their own mysterious death.

Black Cats and Black Opals

It’s easy to imagine how, by virtue of the opal’s tendency to change colors in different lighting, many once believed opals to possess magical properties. In particular, witches and sorcerers were thought to use black opals to hone, focus, and increase their magical powers. Others, such as the Greeks, thought that opals were supernatural tools good for foresight and telling prophecies.

 

Of course, not everybody was impressed with the idea that opals inherently doled out evil energy or bad luck. The Romans, for example, believed the exact opposite. They felt that opals reigned in good fortune, and Arabian folklore pointed to opals as falling to the Earth from the heavens in flashes of lightning. Here at Hemming Jewelers, we too believe in the beauty of all gems and diamonds, opals included! If you’re looking to add a new piece to your collection prior to your Halloween parties, we have just what you need. Visit Hemming Jewelers today and make your own magic!