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Jewelry As Art Inc

Myth Busting: Is It Ok to Wear Opal if It's Not My Birthstone?

Posted by Danny Mosco on

One of the birthstones for the month of October is opal. The other is pink tourmaline, but opal is the better known of the 2 stones. It is also a stone that is given to celebrate the 14th wedding anniversary, but we won't focus on that for this blog post. More so, we want to focus on something we commonly hear from people who aren't born in October. It usually goes along the lines of something like, "Oh, I like opals, but I don't wear them because I heard it's bad luck to wear them if you weren't born in October." Some have even said they know of someone that had something bad happen to them, supposedly because they wore opals without being born in October. We are going to quickly dispel this myth, because after you hear the backstory of it, you will never be worried about it again. 

It turns out that the origin of the belief that wearing opals brings bad luck can be traced back to a novel. Yes, that's right, a novel. There once was a novel called Anne of Geuerstein, by a man named Sir Walter Scott. The novel was published in the year 1829, and the particular scene of interest is with a character named Lady Hermione. In the story, Lady Hermione always wears an opal, and is later accused of being some type of demoness. When a few drops of holy water fell on her opal, the drops put out the fiery color of the opal, and cause her to become ill. When she retreats to the bed in her room, the next day she is found as nothing but a pile of ash. Thus, the association with opals and terrible luck is born. The general public interpreted this scene as some kind of warning to avoid opals because of the misfortune they can bring, but this turned out to be a lazy reading of the book. However, Sir Walter Scott's novel ended up destroying the opal market in Europe for nearly 50 years. Opal prices plummeted down by 50% not long after the book was published. 

What finally reversed this trend was a discovery made in Australia in 1877, when a black opal found in South Wales. This resurrected the opal market, and led to a decline in opal production in Europe. This discovery actually led to a  shift in the balance of opal mining in the world away from Europe and to Australia. Today, most of the world's black, white, and even blue opals come from Australia. 

Ironically, throughout most of opals' written history, they were thought to be a stone of good luck because of their color, and their ability to show multiple colors. It just goes to show how one misunderstanding can lead to huge consequences. And there you have it - the reason why opals came to be thought of as bad luck, and why it's a myth!

Sources used: 

  • opal
  • opal history
  • opal lore
  • opals bad luck
  • history of opal
  • october birthstone
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