Happy Birthday, October! The October birthstone is opal.

Opal is the October birthstone.

The opal gets its name from the Latin word “opalus,” meaning “precious jewel,” and is prized for its unique ability to refract and reflect light into the shimmering rainbow of colors it is known for.

Ancient legend says that opals fell from the heavens in a flash of fiery lightning, but, in all actuality, opal is a non-crystallized silica, found near the surface of the earth in areas where geothermal hot springs once occurred. As these springs dried, the layers of silica, combined with water, were deposited into the bedrocks cracks and cavities, forming opals.

If you are planning to buy jewelry featuring this October birthstone for a gift, keep a couple things in mind. Opal actually contains water (as much as 30%), so this gemstone needs to be treated carefully. Heat and harsh chemicals could lead to drying and cracking, and opal is relatively soft and can break more easily than other gems.

Most of the world’s opal is found in Southern Australia, but it can also be found in Brazil, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, and Nevada.