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October 28, 2019
By Chelsea Reed
Looking into the window of galaxies, oceans and volcanic eruptions…that’s how writers have described the opal’s brilliant play of color. Soft, vibrant and filled with mystery, opals have captured the imaginations of people around the world. It’s a great gift to give your loved one for a special occasion!
When you surprise them, you can also share these fun facts with them about this intriguing gemstone:
No one knows for sure how the delightful opal got its name. Some say it came from the Sanskrit word “upala,” which translates as “valuable stone.” Others say it stems from the Greek word “opallios,” meaning “to see a change of color.” Both stories are probably right! From Rome to Greece to Ethiopia, the beauty of opal has been revered by cultures for thousands of years. Even the Roman scholar Pliny raved about its kaleidoscope of colors in 75 AD!
Did you know that opal is the national gemstone of Australia? It’s also the official gemstone for October birthdays and the 14th wedding anniversary. Opal is a versatile stone for many occasions. Earrings and pendants of opal are suitable for everyday wear. Rings and pendants, on the other hand, provide a perfect splash of color for formal occasions. Try wearing opal at your next ball or holiday gathering!
The chemical structure of opal is similar to beach sand and glass. It contains silica and about 10% water. Millions of tiny silica spheres reflect rainbow colors inside the opal. That’s why it’s a great memento for your beach trip! Opal is formed when rainwater carries silicon deposits deep into rock cracks. When the water evaporates, opal is left behind.
Several years ago scientists found opal on Mars! Its discovery hints that water was on Mars a lot earlier than we thought. It’s one of the few gemstones discovered outside our planet, besides peridot and moldavite. Martian opal...who would have thought?
Opal rates between 5.5 and 6.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. That makes it somewhat of a softie. It’s durable enough to withstand everyday wear, yet gentle enough to store carefully with other gemstones. If you need to clean your opals, wash them with mild soap and water and a soft cloth.
Opal comes in a wide variety of types, and each one has its own play of color. There’s fire opal, crystal opal, boulder opal, white opal, water opal...and the super rare black opal. Blue opal is the most common, but its play of color can be just as gorgeous as the other ones!
What’s your favorite thing about opal? Do you have a cherished opal heirloom? We’d love to hear it on Facebook! And while you’re here, you can shop our estate jewelry collection now in the fall before the holiday rush begins. Enjoy the fall season!
Chelsea Reed is a copywriter who writes online content, articles, blogs, and websites from her base in North Carolina.
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