Everything about opal is different and fascinating. Opal’s erratic display of a huge spectrum of colours is unsurpassed. Writers have likened this gemstone to such terms as ‘volcanoes’, ‘ fireworks’, and ‘galaxies’, and rightfully so as they literally reflect all of nature’s splendour in all colours of the rainbow. Poetic names like ‘Light of the World’, ‘Empress’ and ‘Pandora’ also stands true to the exotic nature of opals. They carry the richest and deepest colours of a painters pallet. Their unique charm lies in their glowing colours which are not found in any other gemstone. It is today, identified as Australia’s national gemstone as Australia alone provides 95% -97% of the world’s opal.
The term opal is said to have come from the Sansksrit word ‘upala’ which means ‘precious stone. It may have also been derived from the Greek word ‘Opallios’ which means ‘to see a change of colour’. The Romans named it ‘opalus’, which means ‘precious stone’. Opal is an October birthstone, sharing the status with pink tourmaline. Precious opals, when cut and polished into cabochons are used to make all forms of jewelry like rings, pendants, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, engagement rings, eternity rings and bridal set rings. Fire opals, boulder opal and common opal are also popularly used in jewelries.
The collection of gemstone at ‘AG & Sons’ has always been the talk of the town. They are highly esteemed for their variety and for their umpteen collection of unique gemstone not generally found in any other store. Our collection of the colourful opal gemstone is impressively large and we have them in all varieties like precious opals, fire opals, common opals etc. We turn them into exquisite jewelries like rings, bracelets, necklaces, bracelets, pendants, earrings, engagement rings, eternity rings and bridal set rings.
History and Lore of Opal:
Though not found in any written record, opal has been in existence since the dawn of time. It was believed to have been discovered as long as 4,000 years ago and very likely in Ethiopia.
Opals can be found mentioned and used by some of the most significant figures. The ancient Greek Theophrastus, once quoted the saying of his friend Onomacritus: “the delicacy of the opal reminds me of a loving and beautiful child”. During the Roman period, Mark Anthony wanted to present a beautiful opal owned by the roman Senator Nonius, to his lady Cleopatra. However, instead of giving the gemstone to Anthony, the senator, preferred to flee with his precious opal. A Roman Emperor was believed to have offered his vast kingdom in exchange for a single opal.
Eminent author and natural philosopher, Pliny described opal as “having a refulgent fire of the carbuncle (ruby or garnet), the glorious purple of amethyst, the sea green of emerald, and all those colours glittering together mixed in an incredible way.” Opal has also been found mentioned by Shakespeare, who describes it as “a miracle” and the “Queen of Gems”. It is a personal favourite of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) who not only wore it throughout her life, but also loved gifting them to her friends and other Royal members.
Opal is also shrouded in myths and lores of various cultures. It was believed that Zeus, the Greek king of the Gods, was so happy after defeating the Titans, that it led to his weeping tears that eventually turned into opals upon hitting the ground. Another belief was that the beautiful Indian Goddess of the Rainbow, turned herself into a rainbow-coloured opal as a means to escape from the lustful advances of the male Gods. According to the Arabians, opals were magical stones that fell from the heavens in lightning flashes which accounts for their fiery colour. Opal was also associated with prophecy and foresight by the ancient Greeks.
According to the Orientals, opals were the ‘anchor stone of hope’. Medieval Europeans believed that opals possess strange powers and one of them was to make the wearer invisible and to improve his insight. The Romans considered it to be stone of hope and purity. During the Middle Ages, opal was referred to as the ‘eye stone’ as it was believed to render good eyesight. The blond maidens of the medieval times, were much in favour of opal necklace as they were believed to prevent their hair from shedding and from losing the colour. According to some cultures, opal even had the power to make the wearer invisible and hence was called Patronus forum which means patron of thieves.
Opal had a long association with superstition due to several factors. The novel ‘Anne of Geierstein’ by Sir Walter Scott narrated a story of opal in a negative light accounting for its world-wide reputation as a bringer of bad luck. Wife of Napoleon III of France, Emress Eguenie refused to wear it and so did many others. However, Queen Victoria on the other hand refused to give in to the superstitious beliefs and even gifted her daughters with opal on their wedding. Though associated with various superstitions, opal is still very much admired and hence used widely in jewelleries like rings, bracelets, pendants, necklaces, earrings, pendants, engagement rings, eternity rings and bridal set rings.
Formation of Opal:
Opal is basically hydrated silicon dioxide, containing about 3% to 30% water. When water travels inside the earth it takes the silica from the sandstone. The silica enriched solution is then carried into the cracks and space that are caused by fossils decomposition and natural faults. When the water evaporates, a silica deposit is formed. The cycle goes on for years and years, where the minute silica sphere hardens over time, eventually leading to the formation of opal. In simplified terms, opals are gel from silica containing varying percentages of water.
A non-crystalline form of the mineral silica, opal is formed from shapeless balls or lumps of silica. They are unlike any other gems like diamonds or ruby, which are formed crystalline. It is for this reason that one can discern a variety of colours in opals. The beautiful display of colour is basically due to the silica spheres dissecting light on its way through the gemstone, turning it into a spectrum of colours of the rainbow. The range of colours varies depending on the size of the spectrum and its uniformity. Because of opals’ unique display of colour, it is preferred by many who loves colours. They are now widely used in jewelleries like earrings, pendants, bracelets, rings, necklaces, engagement rings, eternity rings and bridal set rings.
Sources of Opal:
Australia is the most important source of Opal as it produces 95% to 97% of the world’s opal supply. Lightning Ridge and White Cliffs in New South Wales and Coober Pedy and Andamooka in South Australia have some of the famous opal deposits. They are also deposits found in some parts of Queensland. In addition, other important deposits are Hungary, Honduras, Ethiopia, Brazil, United States, Mexico, Sudan, Japan, Russia etc. Opal was recently discovered in Canada as well. Due to its widespread availability and unique characteristic features, opals have found its way into jewelries like rings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants, earrings, rings, engagement rings, eternity rings and bridal set rings.
Opal Color and Properties:
Opal’s beauty lies in the wide display of colours. Name any colour, you will find opal in them. The diffraction results in flashes of many and any colours of the rainbow. These colour flashes are termed as a ‘play-of-colour’. Those that exhibit this play-of-colours fall in the category of ‘precious opal’. The play of colour, can be observed if the stone is moved, if the observation angle is changed or if the light source is moved. The most commonly available opals are ‘common opal’ or ‘potch’ which exhibit a milky or pearly lustre termed as ‘opalescence’. The most common colours in which opals are available are blue, green, yellow. The rarest colours are red, violet and orange. In fact, opals rich in red are usually very expensive. The most valuable opals are those which exhibit the most brilliant of colour or fire.
Opals are relatively soft gems and stand between 5.5 to 6.5 on the Moh’s scale of hardness. They can be transparent to opaque. The transparent to translucent materials are more precious than opaque materials. Nearly all opals have visible internal fractures or inclusions. It is also somewhat porous. Good quality opal has a vitreous lustre. Opals can be cut into various shapes like en cabochon, rounds, ovals, cushions, marquise, trillions etc. They can also be faceted as can be seen in ‘fire opal’. After opal is cut and faceted they can be used in jewelleries like rings, bracelets, pendants, necklaces, earrings, engagement rings, eternity rings and bridal set rings.
Opals come in amazing varieties. Some are universally accepted while others are names made up by the dealers. Some opal varieties are; black opal, Peruvian or blue opal, black crystal opal, boulder opal, common opal, chocolate opals, fire opal, flash opal, girasol opal, harlequin opal, honey opal, lemon opal, lightning ridge opal, jelly opal, precious fire opal, precious opal, porcelain opal, white opal, and a host of other. Each of them is endowed with their own unique characteristics which make one appear different from the other.
Healing Properties of Opal
Since time immemorial opal is valued for its healing powers. It helps people suffering from stress, depression and restless thoughts. They encourage people to find the right direction and aids one in expressing and accessing the true self. They help the wearer find true love and hence make an ideal option for engagement ring, eternity rings and bridal set rings. Opal motivates people to cultivate their creative and original powers. They are known as the bringers of happy dreams and are especially soothing for those who have frequent nightmares. It boosts the wearer’s self worth, self esteem and confidence. It makes them realise their true potentiality. It acts as an emotional stabiliser and encourages faithfulness and loyalty.
In the realm of physical health, opal has proved its worth in many aspects. Apart from strengthening the wearer’s memory, opal helps in purifying the blood. It eases childbirth, regulates insulin, and is also known to alleviate PMS. It is also known to have a positive effect on the eyes. It helps in treating various infections and in promoting good health. Because of the many benefits associated with opal, it has largely been embraced by many in the form of rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces, pendants etc.
The Collection of Opal at AG & Sons:
At AG & Sons, renowned all over for their exotic collection of gemstones, opals are mounted on beautifully carved pendants, necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets, engagement rings, eternity rings and bridal set rings. Our impressive collection is second to none and given the fact that we are especially skilled in the art of customisation, expect to see some of the most spectacular pieces with us.