All About Opals

All About Opals

Whilst those born in October have two beautiful birthstones, we are putting a special spotlight on Opals in this blog post. It’s one of a kind colour combinations makes it a truly extraordinary gem because of the Opal’s connection to the sign of Libra, it is often related to feelings of deep passion, love and desire. It is also the gemstone given on a 14th wedding anniversary.

Opals are easily one of the most beautiful gemstones that you can own. Unlike most other gemstones, each opal is distinctive and personal. This makes it a stylish accessory to almost any outfit! The stone has been said to bring hope, happiness, love and luck to the wearer.

A white opal may help with positive manifestation, particularly relating to financial goals, because it is considered a lucky stone, wearing it is said to help bring your energy and dreams into alignment to help you achieve what you desire most.

Opal Jewellery

What makes this gemstone so appealing?

The bright colours given out by Opal are caused by small amounts of moisture and silica trapped within the stone. Opals also have a beautiful iridescence, known as opalescence. The beautiful play of colour in the gemstone is caused by the refraction of light.

The more intense and brighter the colours, the more sought after the Opal will be. Whilst blue and violet opals are more commonly found, red is more rare. The darker the tone of the opal, the more valuable it is too, this is because when the body tone is darker, the flashes of colour are more noticeable.

Opals have been considered both good luck and bad luck throughout history. They were as precious as Diamonds to the Ancient Greeks and used in jewellery by the Romans, whereas in Russia the stone was considered by the Tsars to symbolise the evil eye!

It’s believed the name for the stone was adopted from the Latin word “opalus”, however, others believe it’s from the Sanskrit word “úpala” meaning precious stone. The Romans loved the colours of Opal, and used the gemstone as a way to boast about their wealth and status. They sourced their Opals from mines in eastern Europe. The Roman general Mark Antony wanted to give Cleopatra of Egypt an Opal as a mark of their relationship.

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Types of Opal:

Black Opal – Contains a dark background colour. This is the rarest and most highly valued form of opal and it has what is called a black body tone. Black opals come in every colour of the rainbow. Their dark body tone makes the colours on the face of the opal appear rich and intense.

White or Milky Opal – Has an opaque milky appearance. One of the most common type of Opal. The background colours are white, grey or brown with yellow, blue, red and green pin fire. These are more affordable.

Crystal Opal – This type of Opal has a range of flashing colours. Generally transparent or very translucent. A dark backing may be attached to make the natural colours more visible. Colours are usually very subtle.

Boulder Opal – This type of Opal contains piece of host rock attached to the back of the precious opal. Less valuable than black opal but can be mistaken for it. These opals contain a gorgeous play of colours when rotated and they may also have beautiful patterns. It mainly occurs in specific locations over a wide area of Western Queensland, Australia.

Fire Opal – Transparent to translucent opal, with warm body colours of yellow to orange to red. Although it does not usually show any play of colour, occasionally a stone will show bright green flashes. Fire opals that do not show play of colour are sometimes referred to as jelly opals.

Famous Opals

The Virgin Rainbow, is the world’s most expensive and rarest Opal, valued at $1 million! It was discovered in 2003 by John Dunstan, in the same Opal fields as the Fire of Australia, which is one of the most famous stones. It has incredible colours and also glows in the dark, which is what makes this opal so distinctly unique. The Fire of Australia Opal is a 998gram uncut Opal mined by Walter Bartram in 1946, weighing a whopping 900ct! However, black opals were not in demand at the time and it sold for just £100. The stone resurfaced in 1928 where it was valued at £40,000. The stone eventually was sold at auction for £75,000 to J.D. Rockefeller.

We hope you enjoyed learning about Opals with us.

Here at Lancastrian Jewellers, we stock a great range of jewellery from antique pieces to modern classics, we have something for everyone.

Please get in touch if you need any further help finding the perfect piece of jewellery.

Further Reading:

If you'd like to expand your knowledge on Opals even further, we recommend taking look at the links below. 
1. BEGINNER'S GUIDE: WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF OPAL? - The Gemmological Association of Great Britain
2. Famous Opals - Altmann & Cherny
3. How Opal Was Used In Art Deco Jewellery - Gatsby Jewellery


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