Opaque, translucent, transparent – all words used to describe the beautiful qualities of the gemstone OPAL

OPAL is the national gemstone of Australia which is only fitting since 80% of the world’s supply of opal comes from Australia.  I have always loved opal, mostly because it is the birthstone representing October and today October 3 just happens to be my birthday!  The first piece of jewelry I ever owned was a little gold ring with an opal stone in it; but my first knowledge of opal was not the stone, but the person.

My father’s sister was named Opal.  She was born around 1920, so it is no surprise that she would be thusly named.  Opal was among the top 100 names chosen for little girls from 1900-1920, and remained in the top 500 until the 1950’s.  But what made the name Opal unusual in our family was that our Grandma Smith had a master plan when choosing names  for her little girls:

  • first there was PEARL
  • then there was OPAL
  • next was RUBY
  • and then came JEWEL
  • the 5th and final girl – BARBARA LOIS

I guess Grandma just got stuck there toward the end – considered the options (amethyst, diamond, emerald, etc) and decided to quit while she was ahead.  It was a pretty good run, Grandma.

Here is a photo (taken in 1942) of our mother (left) and our Aunt Opal (right) – beautiful girls.  Mom is a newlywed and on the back of the photo she had written Mrs. James W Smith with Opal.

opal and mom 3

Do you know your birthstone?  If not, here’s a chart of traditional birthstones.