Opal: Gem Of Luck

Legends has it that opals fell from the sky in bolts of lightning. While others speculate the creator came to earth on a rainbow, leaving these colorful stones where his feet touched the ground.

Writers have compared the gemstone to volcanoes, galaxies, and fireworks. Admirers gave extraordinary opals poetic names like Pandora, Light of the World, and Empress.

The name “opal” originates from the Greek word opallios, which meant “to see a change in color.” And because the stone possesses a kaleidoscopic range of colors similar to all the other gems, the Romans thought it was the most precious and powerful of all.


October’s Birthstone

For centuries, people have associated this gem with good luck. In fact, throughout most of history, opal has been regarded as the luckiest and most magical of all gems because it can show all colors.

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.

It is particularly lucky to wish upon an opal if there is a rainbow in the sky. Out of all its rainbow colors, the black opal is extremely lucky and the most uplifting of the opals, bringing light into the aura. During the Crusades, ladies gave their crusaders an opal to bring them good fortune in battle, and opals were often placed upon the navel of an expectant mother to provide ease in childbirth.

Despite opal’s superstitious associations, the enchanting birthstone remains a popular choice and an ideal lucky charm. 

History & Fun Facts

In the 1960s, the term “play-of-color” was used to characterize an opal’s display of various rainbow colors. Scientists discovered that it is composed of microscopic silica spheres that radiates light to display these various colors. These flashy gems are called “precious opals;” those without play-of-color are “common opals.” 

Around 1850, opal was discovered in Australia and had produced 95 percent of the world’s supply. Since then, Australia’s supply of classic opal has greatly decreased, impacting the price of the unique gem. However, due to its flashing play-of-color, the opal stays high in demand as it can suit many changing moods and tastes.

Check out more interesting facts below:

  • The world’s largest and most valuable opal, “Olympic Australis,” came from Coober Pedy, Australia in 1956, during the Olympic Games in Melbourne. Valued at $2.5 million in 2005, this gem measures 11 inches long and weighs 17,000 carats (7.6 pounds).
  • Opal is also mined in Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, Ethiopia, the Czech Republic and parts of the U.S., including Nevada and Idaho.
  • In 75 AD, the notable Roman scholar Pliny observed, “Some opal carries such a play within them that they equal the deepest and richest colors of painters. Others…simulate the flaming fire of burning sulfur and even the bright blaze of burning oil.
  • Europeans have long considered the opal as a symbol truth, hope, and purity.
  • Seasonal rains soak the extremely dry outback and it carries silica deposits into cracks between layers of rock. Once the water evaporates, these deposits form opal. Sometimes, silica seeped into spaces around wood, seashells and skeletons, resulting in opalized fossils. (See famous opals below.)
  • Sir Walter Scott’s 1829 novel, “Anne of Geier stein,” transformed opal’s lucky perception. The story featured an enchanted princess who wore an opal that changed colors with her moods. A few drops of holy water extinguished the stone’s magic fire, though, and the woman soon died. Within a year after publication of Scott’s book, opal sales in Europe fell by 50 percent.
  • Opal was once thought to have the power to preserve the life and color of blond hair.
  • The ancient Greeks believed opals gave their owners the gift of prophecy and guarded them against diseases.
  • Opals are relatively soft with a hardness rating of 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale.

October-Born Celebrities

Here are some celebrities that share the lucky October month: Sting, Kelly Ripa, Derrick Rose, Russell Simmons, Bernie Mac, Neil deGrasse Tyson, McLyte, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kim Kardashian, Winona Ryder, Tom Petty, Amber Rose

Shop Gabriel & Co.’s full-line of opal jewelry here and find the perfect piece for you!

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