“With the fire of carbuncle, the brilliant purple of amethyst and the sea green colour of the emerald, all shining together in incredible union”; these are the words used by Pliny the Elder (23-79AD) in the world’s first Encyclopaedia, and possibly the best description of this beautiful gem stone.
In ancient times this precious gem was only found in Czechoslovakia, until the Spaniards returned from South America with fine specimens of Aztec Opals.
The Opal went through a stage in its history when it was believed to carry bad luck; this was due to Sir Walter Scott’s “Anne of Geierstein”, in which the heroine possesses an Opal that changes colour according to her emotions and crumbled upon her death.
A rich and intricate history, for a rich and intricate stone, the stone`s intriguing play of light and colour is due to the moisture content of the stone – which when lost, the stone loses its fire. This fact and the fascinating play of colour and light have woven numerous legends and myths into the Opal`s history.
The Greeks believed it to bestow powers of fore sight and prophecy. The Arabs believe the stone fell from the heavens in flashes of lightning. Cherished by thieves who would wrap the gem in a bay leaf to become invisible, and worn by blondes to keep the colour of their hair, the Opal really has a colourful and vibrant history.
The name Opal is derived from the Sanskrit word upala (Precious stone), the Greek word opallios (to see a colour), and the Latin word opalus (to see a change of colour).
Opal artifacts have been recovered from caves in Kenya, dating back 6000 years. Now days 95% of the opals mined come from Australia which has become synonymous with the Opal, and adopted it as one of its national symbols.
People born in October must surely be blessed to have the Opal as their birthstone.
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