Did you know that blonde maidens wanted a necklace made of opals during medieval times because they believed that opals would prevent their hair from fading or darkening?
The word opal originates in India. In Sanskrit, it was called Upala, meaning a “precious stone”. Later, in ancient Rome, Upala became opalus, meaning “to see a change of colour”. Because the opal tends to change colours, like a rainbow, a new phenomenon known as play-to-colour has emerged. This phenomenon makes the opal unique among gems because it displays an array of miniature rainbow iridescent effects, all mixed, making the stone a very prized jewel during Roman times.
Unlike most other gemstones, opal is not a crystal but rather a non-crystalline solid. Opal is found in fossilized shells, wood, and bone.
Like many other gems, opals have myths associated with them. For example, the ancient Greeks believed that opals prevented disease. The Europeans thought they symbolized purity, truth, and hope.
One of the most famous myths about opals is that it brings bad luck and is an evil stone. This myth was debunked years ago, and in fact, many believe that opals bring good fortune through its history.
Taking care of your opal will make sure it lasts a long time. Opals should be treated with care to prevent scratches and other damage. Opals should not be exposed to oil or any other chemicals as they may cause them to lose their beauty. In the early days, jewellers were unsure how to handle and work with the stone, so the opal would break while being cut, polished, or mounted. The cause for breaking, in most cases, was that the stone was dry. Do not store your opal in places that will cause it to dry, or else it will crack. This phenomenon is called “Crazing,” and it will wipe out the value of the stone.
Opals are found in Australia, Ethiopia, Mexico, and Brazil. Deposits were also found in Central Europe, Honduras, Indonesia, Madagascar, Peru, Turkey, and the United States.
In 1877, a unique black opal was found in South Wales, Australia. These black opals took the world by storm. Australia is, in fact, still the principal source of black and white opals. Queensland and New South Wales in Australia are still the primary producers of opals since their discovery in the 1870s.