My mother-in-law was born in October and she loved her birthstone, the enchanting opal. Over her lifetime she acquired an impressive collection. When I first met her I couldn’t help but notice the stunning black opal ring that was so strikingly set off by her dark Mediterranean skin and the diamonds that surrounded it. To me this was her signature ring, because she wore it so beautifully. Once I got to know her a little better I asked if I could see the ring. She took it off, but before she gave it to me she cautioned that I was not to put it on my finger or I would be cursed with bad luck. According to her and her Italian mother, if opal is not your birthstone, you cannot wear them. I examined the ring but did not put it on.
Even though she passed away 20 years ago, the opal ring was just handed down to my husband. It is as beautiful as I remember. But do I dare wear it? I have never let superstitions interfere with my everyday decisions. I would not walk under a ladder or cross paths with a black cat if I had another option. Why tempt faith, right? I did hesitate booking a flight on Friday the 13th the other day, but went ahead with my plans because I am a rational person. Still, I was a little worried about wearing the opal ring.
I got on my computer to find out why such a beautiful stone was thought to bring bad luck. I found that the opal has a long and interesting history. The Romans believed it brought good luck and Caesars gave them as gifts to their queens. Some time later the stone became associated with the evil eye. Then in 1829 a novel was written about an opal loosing its color when a drop of water spilled on it. In the story the owner died soon after. Apparently this book changed how the world felt about opals. No one wanted such a fate and the price of opals fell by 50%. With the discovery of the colorful black opals in Australia 50 years later, people once again wanted to wear opals.
Other than some in the far reaches of southern Europe (and my husband’s family) the opal is no longer feared. Since I don’t believe in the evil eye, and the novel is a made up story, I am not convinced that I shouldn’t wear the ring. However, I still hear my mother-in-law’s warning when I put the ring on, and that little doubt remains.