What is Opal: The Heart of an Ocean

Looking for a lucky stone? Opals are beautiful and colorful stones, popular in gemstone jewelry. Throughout history, they have been believed to bring peace and fortune to the wearer.

Customers often ask questions about opals, including: what color is opal, how is opal formed, where are opals mined, and what does opal mean? Here is a brief overview to answer some of those opal FAQs.

Opals are Filled with Meaning

A pink opal is the October birthstone and commonly thought to bring joy back into someone’s life. The ancient Egyptian culture loved the positivity of the opal and commonly used them in their jewelry. Opals are also used to represent the 14th wedding anniversary, and many choose white and clear opals for their gift to represent purity and strength. Ancient Roman Caesars held the opal as a symbol of good luck, purity and hope, so they were one of the precious stones commonly gifted to their wives on special occasions.

Opals have been known to symbolize confidence and faithfulness, bringing peace to one’s aura. These precious stones were believed to repel evil and purify during the Middle Ages, so they were commonly used in protective jewelry. In several Asian cultures, the Opal is considered lucky for business.

People today continue to choose opal to bring that protection, calmness and healing to the wearer.

Opals Form Naturally in Mountains and Boulders

Over time, opals are formed from a solution of silicon dioxide and water. Water running through the earth carries a silica-rich solution and as the water evaporates, that silica deposit forms rocks. It has been estimated that just one centimeter of Opal takes 5-6 million years to form.

Opal is found in many countries around the world, including Brazil, Honduras, Ethiopia, Mexico and the Western US. The largest supplier of opal is Australia (currently responsible for over 90% of all opals). Recently (within the past 100 years), black opals were discovered in Australia. The black opal has never been naturally mined anywhere else in the world.

There are Hundreds of Opal Colors

The name opal comes from the Greek word “Opallios,” which means to see a change of color. While an opal can be any color of the rainbow, most opals aren’t just one color. Some look like the entire ocean contained in one gemstone with fantastic swirling colors of blue, green, white and more. Opals can range from red (the rarest and most valuable) to yellows, purples, blues or any other color.

As the opal is slowly formed over a long period of time, small spheres of transparent silica stick together to make the stones and form the colour. The orderliness of those silica spheres is what separates the precious opal (vibrant, flashing colours) from common opals (translucent colours). Uniform spheres produce a more intense and brilliant stone. An opal pendant or an Opal necklace is one of the best ways to wear opal, adding grace and elegance to any look.

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