Along with the pink tourmaline, opal is the birthstone for the month of October. Its name was derived from the Sanskrit word ‘upala’ and Latin word ‘opalus’ which means precious stone. Opal has become popular these days due to its distinctive property where all the colors of the rainbow are displayed on the stone.
Before opal gained its popularity, the gems’ reputation was in dispute in 1829 when Sir Walter Scott published the novel ‘Anne of Geuerstein’ set in Central Europe. The story depicted opal as a stone representing bad luck due to the heroine’s misfortune. In the tale, Lady Hermione wore a precious opal on her hair and the color of the stone changes and reflects her mood. When she was angry, the gem’s flashes turned to red and it sparkled when she was happy. After a drop of holy water covered it, the stone lost all its colors and radiance, and she became ill. When the heroine died, a small heap of ashes were found on her bed. It was thought that the cause of her death and bad luck started when the color of her opal was destroyed. Unfortunately, the public took it seriously and the opal market dropped to its lowest sales in Europe.
After 50 years of that negative notion and market failure, opal regained its reputation when a black opal was found in Australia. People were mesmerized of those wonderful and dazzling stones and sales began to revive.
Opals are available in a wide array of colors and shades. The common variations are the milky white and transparent base where almost all the colors of the rainbow are highlighted on like red, green, yellow, blue, orange and violet. The black opals are the exotic kinds and prominent for their fiery flashes of color which contrast the dark base—black, blue and gray tones. Opals are very delicate, heat sensitive and may break easily. The wearer should protect their jewelry pieces from chemicals and sharp objects.
Jewelers prefer to set to them on earrings and pendants. White, blue and pink opals are the common colors you can find in the stores. They are a perfect gift for the 14th wedding anniversary.
Australia produces the largest scale of opal globally while some of its kind can also be found in Mexico and Brazil.