If you are an October birthday, you are one of the lucky ones! Opals are rich with color, lore and mystery and are one of the most globally treasured stones. Opal is the product of seasonal rains that drenched dry ground in regions like Australia’s semi-desert “outback.” The showers soaked deep into ancient underground rock, carrying dissolved silica (a compound of silicon and oxygen) downward. During dry periods, much of the water evaporated, leaving solid deposits of silica in the cracks and between the layers of underground sedimentary rock. The silica deposits formed opal. Because of that process, opals actually contain up to 20% water!
There are many types of opals:
- White or light opal: Translucent to semitranslucent, with play-of-color against a white or light gray background color, called bodycolor.
- Black opal: Translucent to opaque, with play-of-color against a black or other dark background.
- Fire opal: Transparent to translucent, with brown, yellow, orange, or red bodycolor. This material—which often doesn’t show play-of-color—is also known as “Mexican opal.”
- Boulder opal: Translucent to opaque, with play-of-color against a light to dark background. Fragments of the surrounding rock, called matrix, become part of the finished gem.
- Crystal or water opal: Transparent to semitransparent, with a clear background. This type shows exceptional play-of-color.
Fun facts about opals:
- Australia is the biggest source for Opals
- Throughout most of history, opal has been regarded as the luckiest and most magical of all gems because it can show all colors.
- Because opal has the colors of other gems, the Romans thought it was the most precious and powerful of all.
- The Bedouins believed that opals contained lightning and fell from the sky during thunderstorms
- Ancient Greeks believed opals gave their owners the gift of prophecy and guarded them from disease.
- It was thought to have the power to preserve the life and color of blond hair.
See our handmade platinum and diamond cocktail ring with a 12.31ct Lightning Ridge Australian Opal here.