Opal, October's birthstone, is known for its breathtaking "play of color." This "play of color" is created by minuscule silicone spheres which bend the light passing through the gem. Each stone displays an array of different colors including stunning reds, greens, and blues. Its beauty is enhanced when set against darker minerals such as ironstone, basalt, or obsidian.
The word opal comes from the Sanskrit word "upala" and the Latin word "opalus," meaning "precious stone."
The opal has been admired and worn for different reasons since the beginnings of Western Civilization. The Ancient Romans believed the opal was a symbol of hope and love. In Medieval Times, the changing colors of the opal were believed to reveal if its wearer was in good or ill health. People wore opal jewelry to keep their hearts strong, and to prevent infection.
Royalty was also known for its love of opals. Legend has it that the beauty of Cleopatra's opal necklace had a part to play in beginning her love affair with Mark Antony. Queen Victoria gave opal pendants to her children. Queen Elizabeth II loved opals so much she was known for wearing opal jewelry frequently and giving opal pendants and opal rings often as gifts to her subjects.