The Jewelry Box Blog

Birthstone for October: Vivid Look at the Past

on Oct 2, 2015 9:30 AM

When thinking of antique jewelry, opals - a birthstone for October - may be one of the first stones that come to mind. Their array of dazzling colors has captivated imaginations for centuries.

A note of caution, while many say that the opal will bring good luck to wearers, others believe that opals bring bad luck. If you believe in superstitions, you may want to rethink pulling out your opal jewelry on the next Friday the 13th or Halloween.

If you have received one of the October birthstones as an heirloom, regardless of your superstitions, you’re still lucky in our book. Here is a highlight on some antique opals we wish were in our jewelry box.

A Tiffany Treasure

Guests on Antiques Roadshow often do not know what kind of treasure they possess.

The necklace below belonged to the great-grandmother of a show guest, who lived from about 1864 to 1926. The guest shared that she has had this piece for more than 35 years.

Louis Comfort Tiffany Necklace, ca. 1900

Louis Comfort Tiffany Necklace, ca. 1900 (Photo courtesy: PBS)

She also had a hand-painted portrait of her great-grandmother, and in the portrait, she is actually wearing this particular necklace.

Louis Comfort Tiffany Necklace, ca. 1900

Louis Comfort Tiffany Necklace, ca. 1900 (Photo courtesy: PBS)

The appraiser concluded that this was a piece made by Tiffany & Co., and possibly Louis Comfort Tiffany. What a treasure!

A Family Brooch

Another guest on Antiques Roadshow brought in her mother-in-law's brooch. She remembered her mother-in-law speaking of the broach, but as she was getting sick she suggested her son (the guest’s husband) give it to his wife.

Shreve & Company Opal Brooch, ca. 1910

Shreve & Company Opal Brooch, ca. 1910 (Photo courtesy: PBS)

The broach has a simple design, which the show appraiser mentioned is very typical of its 1900 time period. The back of the brooch says "Shreve." Shreve is a very well-known jeweler in the San Francisco Bay area.

An Opal for All

While many pieces are handed down, others are preserved for the general public to enjoy. This Opal Peacock Brooch was designed by Harry Winston, Inc., and features a 32-carat black opal from Lightning Ridge, Australia.

 Opal Peacock Brooch

Opal Peacock Brooch (Photo courtesy: The Smithsonian)

The vivid blue and green play-of-color and a black body color make this beautiful opal rare and valuable. The piece is currently on display at the Smithsonian at the National Museum of Natural History. 

No matter the stone, jewelry passed down from generation to generation usually comes with a story.

Share a story from your jewelry box in the comments below.