The name “opal” originates from the Greek word opallios, which meant “to see a change in color” and from the Sanskrit "upata" for "precious stone”.
In ancient times, the Opal was known as the Queen of Gems because it encompassed the colors of all other gems. Some prefer the calming flashes of blues and greens; others love the bright reds and yellows. Australia’s Lightning Ridge is known for its rare and stunning black Opals.
In the 1960s scientists discovered that Opal’s ‘play of colors’ was because it’s composed of microscopic silica spheres that diffract light to display various colors of the rainbow. These flashy gemstones are called “precious opals”. There are Opals that don’t reflect the light in this way and these are known as ‘Common Opals’.
Opal was discovered in Australia around the 1850, and produces 95% of the world’s supply. Other countries that mine Opal are Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, and the US to name a few.
Seasonal rains carry silica deposits underground into cracks between layers of rock. When the water evaporated, these deposits form opal. Sometimes, silica seepes into spaces around wood, seashells and skeletons, resulting in opalized fossils.
During the Middle Ages, people believed that the opal possessed the powers of each gemstone whose color appeared in its sheen, making it a very lucky stone to wear.
Opal is a soft stone and should be treated carefully when in jewelry. Keep away from Ultrasonics.