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Opal Facts, Myths and Everything In Between

Posted on Thursday, October 1st, 2020 at 10:42 am by Emily

October’s birthstone, the opal, is by far one of the coolest looking gemstones! The opal’s color is not the only alluring thing about the birthstone, though. If you’ve ever wondered what an opal is or if you’re not sure of the different types of opal, then buckle up and get ready to learn. 
All the opal facts you never knew you needed: 

WHAT IS AN OPAL

Exactly what is opal? While it may look like a fake gemstone because of its extreme beauty and intensity, it’s certainly not. The opal is a non-crystalline form of the mineral silica. The chemical composition of October’s birthstone is SiO2H2O. Even if you’re not a science fanatic, you probably know that H2O is more commonly known as water, which can make up to 30% of some opal gemstones.

THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF OPAL AND OPAL COLORS

Most stones, such as diamonds, are often valued less when there are more impurities. That’s not the case with October’s birthstone. The kaleidoscopic gem has what’s called “play-of-color,” which is the flash of bright colorful light you see when looking at it. The opals color play comes from irregularities in the gemstone’s internal pattern. In short, October’s birthstone is composed of tiny spheres that diffracts light and brings the fancy spectrum of colors. 

Aside from the play-of-color, there are different types of opal that have different base colors. There is the white opal, black opal, fire opal, boulder opal and opal doublets. For more information on the different types of opals, check out our October Birthstone blog that further breaks down the different opal colors

OPAL MYTHS AND SUPERSTITIONS

Just like opal’s rich color, the October birthstone has a rich past full of opal myths and folklore. Throughout most of history, the opal has been thought to be the luckiest and most magical of all gemstones because it can showcase all colors.  

On the other hand, a big opal myth is that it’s bad luck to wear the gem if you weren’t born in October. This is, of course, total hogwash. The opal myth started with the book “Anne Of Geierstein” where a character died while wearing the stone. From there, the opal got a bad reputation from rumors. Many of those speculations were thought to have originated from diamond sellers in a marketing ploy to ensure the opal didn’t outshine and outsell the brilliant diamond. Talk about personal gain from propaganda! 

We tend to agree with the multiple cultures that accredit opals with supernatural origins and powers. The ancient Greeks’ opal myths were that they gave the wearers the gift of prophecy and guarded them from disease. Europeans considered October’s gemstone to be a symbol of purity, hope and truth. And Arabic folklore says it falls from the heavens in flashes of lightning. 

Whether you’re superstitious or not, I think we all can agree that the October birthstone brings with it a unique look that captures the eye and looks captivating in almost any setting. 

RAREST OPALS, COOL OPALS AND FAMOUS OPAL JEWELRY

Like with most stones, there are some gems that standout because of their fascinating history or simply because of their entrancing beauty. The opal is no exception. From the rarest opals to famous opal jewelry to simply just cool opals, here are a few of our favorites:

  • THE OLYMPIC AUSTRALIS: This behemoth of a gemstone weighs in at 17,000 carats. Purchased in 1956 by John Altmann and Rudi Cherny, the rare opal is named after Olympic games held in Melbourne that same year. It’s currently on display at the Altman + Cherny showroom in Sydney.
  • THE ANDAMOOKA OPAL (THE QUEEN’S OPAL): If you look at any famous gemstone list, there’s bound to be a piece that’s a part of the Royal Family Jewelry Collection. The Andamooka Opal was a gift to Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II when she visited Australia in 1954. The gem was cut into six stones, five of which went to HRH Queen Elizabeth and are now on display at Buckingham Palace.
  • AURORA AUSTRALIS: This beauty is believed to be the world’s most valuable Black Opal. The Aurora Australis is dug from an old seabed in New South Wales. It weighs in at 180 carats and has the distinct impression of a starfish on its back. Both its size and vibrant colors make it one of the rarest opals.

 

Looking for a gift for someone born in October or want to add the unique beauty to your personal collection? Browse our current collection of opal jewelry or contact us to find out how to get started on a custom jewelry.



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