Birthstones 2021: October Opals (Mainstream Polishes)

I had so many fabulous plans for my Beautiful Weekend and for my Saturday. I was going to do some swatch photos. I was going to edit those photos. I was going to do a few different blog posts (since I really only have time to blog on the weekends). Aaaaand, guess what? LIFE decided otherwise. Womp-womp. I did manage to get all my swatch photos done. But I’ve been struggling big-time with side-effects from my recent COVID booster. I was so exhausted yesterday that I ended up taking a long nap in the afternoon, instead of hitting the blog. Blog Failure, y’all!!

But that’s okay! Life happens to all of us, right? The important thing is to shake it off and pick up our plans as best as we can. That means I am heading into the blog today with the first October Birthstone post. I’m really happy I’m managing to get this into my blog at the beginning of the month. Go me! It’s the little victories that count, y’all!


For this post, I’m going to look at the traditional birthstone for October: Opal. I do not know a lot about Opals, so I did a little bit of internet sleuthing about them. (Not that much, though, as I hit the website first thing — ha, ha!) Y’all know what this means, right? Yep! I’m about to lay some knowledge on you. (I know, I know. It’s horrible and there are too many words and you just wanted to look at the pictures. The pictures are coming. I promise!)

Opals are generally divided into two categories: “precious” and “semi-precious”. Precious Opals generally have different flashes of rainbow color playing throughout the stone. These flashes of color are called “play-of-color”. Semi-precious Opals do not have play-of-color. In general, Opals form during seasonal rains that drench the dry ground in certain regions (such as the Australian outback). As the rain soaks into the ground, it carries dissolved silica with it; once the water evaporates, solid silica deposits are left behind, and these deposits form Opal. Opals are made up of teeny spheres that stack on each other in a grid pattern. As light passes between all these little spheres, the waves bend and refract, breaking up into rainbow colors.

Opals are a softer stone, ranking at a 5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, which is the scale used to measure gemstone hardness. Diamond is the hardest, with a ranking of 10 on the scale. Sapphire and Ruby, I believe, fall around 9 on the Mohs scale. The Mohs ranking means that, while you can use Opal in jewelry, it is not great for every day wear or for pieces of jewelry that get a lot of hard wear or knocks. For example, it might break when used in a ring — especially if you are a person (like me!) who tends to be rough on their rings. Being clumsy is no fun, y’all! With that said, Opals can last well for many, many years if you are careful in wearing them. Cleaning-wise, my research indicated that only warm, soapy water is recommended.

Within the Precious Opal category, gemologists further categorize stones depending on their color and characteristics. For my post, I decided to focus on the three types that interest me the most: White/Light Opal, Black Opal, and Fire Opal. I found pictures of each of these categories on the website


White or Light Opals are translucent or semi-translucent, and they have play-of-color against a white or light gray background color. These are the types of stones I generally think of when I think “opal”. As you can see from the above photo, they tend to have a milky appearance in the body of the stone. For me, this gives the rainbow effect from play-of-color a more pastel or softer appearance.


Black Opals, as the name suggests, have play-of-color against a black or dark background. If I had known, in my younger years, that this type of opal existed, I would have been a fan of this stone from the get-go! I find these beauties to be magnificent and nothing short of amazing. I love how the play-of-color looks so bright and vibrant against the dark background.


Fire Opal has a red, brown, yellow, or orange body color. It can also be translucent or semi-translucent. It looks like this type of stone may not have as much play-of-color due to the body color of the stone. Online, I found information that says this type of Opal is often called “Mexican Opal”.


Okay, y’all! Here come the nail polish photos. That’s what we’re all here for, after all, right? Right! For this post, I am looking at only my mainstream polishes. And I stuck to the three brands that make up the majority of my mainstream stash: China Glaze, OPI, and Zoya. I actually don’t have a ton of polishes in my stash that make me think “opal”. I managed to round up a total of 6 for this post. So … let’s take a look!

China Glaze, Cowboy, Bye.

This is my first mainstream Opal pick, although it might be a bit of a stretch. Because this polish is a darker brown, it might not really qualify as an opal. But the golden tones, the rainbow action from the holographic, and the reddish shimmer all made me think “opal” when I was looking through my stash swatch photos. And so … here it is. On my short list. Opal-wise, I think this one might fall into Fire Opal territory.

China Glaze, Dandy Lyin’ Around.

So … this one might be a Semi-Precious Opal, since it does not clearly have a lot of rainbow color action. And it is more of a milky-white look in the polish base. Even so, the way light plays across the flecks in this polish, combined with the white base color, makes me think of the soft and delicate look of opals.

China Glaze, Hay Girl, Hay!.

I feel like this polish looks more “opal-like” when used as a topper. Over a darker color, you can see more colors throughout the flakes. I find them predominantly blues and greens, but you can see some reds and golds, too. Granted, the reds and golds are softer, but they are there (to my eye, anyhow!).

China Glaze, Private Side Eye.

I don’t feel that my whole-hand swatch photo shows it off very well, but you can see in the macro how this polish actually has quite a few colors running throughout. There is a beautiful dark base (a deep, plum-like purple), along with some delicate blue-green shimmer and rainbow action from the holographic glitters. The colors are more apparent to me in person than I could capture in any photos. This might not make for a very valuable Opal if it was a gemstone, because the play-of-color is too subtle and sparse. But it still gave me “opal” vibes when I looked through my swatch photos.

China Glaze, Smoke and Ashes.

Sadly, it seems I don’t have a macro of this polish. This one gave me definite “Black Opal” vibes due to the dark base and the shifty shimmer from the flecks. I find the shimmer colors are mostly blues and blue-greens. Again, this would likely not be a very valuable gemstone, since the base is so dark and the play-of-color is so limited. But it is a super pretty polish!

OPI, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

This one, much like Dandy Lyin’ Around, gives me “opal” vibes due to the soft appearance it has on the nail, as well as the way light plays across the flecks in the polish. This is such a soft, delicate, and airy-looking polish. I love it as a manicure on its own. But it is also super pretty with gold, brown, or even dark pink stamping. This is another polish that likely would not make for a very valuable gemstone, but I can’t hold that against it — ha, ha!


So, that’s a “wrap” for my mainstream Opals. As I said in the beginning, I didn’t have many polishes in my mainstream stash that jumped out at me as “opal-esque” in appearance. I think this is because you really need different types and sizes of flakes to reflect the light in a way that truly mimics play-of-color. I haven’t looked through my indie polishes yet, but I am guessing I will have a few more for that post!

What about all of you? What do you think of Opals as a gemstone? I’ve never been a huge fan, as I am a gal who likes all things sparkly. But even I can’t deny that Opals have a magnificent beauty all their own. And what about polish? Do you have any “opals” in your polish stash? I would love to hear all about them!


4 thoughts on “Birthstones 2021: October Opals (Mainstream Polishes)

  1. This subject will get me to stop lurking for a bit. I adore opals. I’ve used Moonshine Mani’s I saw the shine over a black base to get a black opal look before. It worked really well (better than Essie’s shine of the times). The white opals I have look like a very pale milky blue with a tinge of green in person – Google gives me OPI Mexico City Move-mint as a suggestion and I’d say that’s close to the right base color.

    Your picks are definitely the closest I’ve seen in mainstream polishes that give an opal feel, but as you say, they’re not really showing the play of color. I’m excited to see what else you’ve got! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, hi! Thanks for stopping by and for lurking, too! 😉 I’m excited to look through my indie swatch photos to see what I have that will match up. I went into this one thinking that it would be really hard to find mainstream polishes that have that “opal” feeling. I’ve not been a fan of this gemstone until recently, when I have come to appreciate the play of colors throughout them. There is something really elusive, magical, and a little mysterious about opals. And I think that’s hard to translate into nail polish — in particular with mainstream polishes! I’m definitely going to check out the OPI you mentioned. And I bet your opal manicure with I Saw the Shine was gorgeous!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s