When you picture an opal, you probably think of a milky-white color with subtle rainbow flecks that become visible when the light hits the stone.
This particular variety is quite common in classic opal jewelry styles. But opals are incredibly diverse in appearance.
They can take on all kinds of colors, patterns, and levels of opacity. It all depends on which type of opal you’re looking at and where it was mined.
The two main varieties of opal stones are “precious opal” and “common opal.”
Precious opals show what’s known as a “play of color.”
The most valuable opals have the most visible, intense, and consistent color—a factor determined by how densely the stone’s silica spheres are packed and how consistent they are when it comes to shape and size.
The most valuable varieties of precious opal are the black opal and the Australian boulder opal. Other beautiful variants of precious opal include Ethiopian opal, white opal, and fire opal.
In ancient times, the opal was one of the most highly prized gemstones of all. Its ability to reveal all the colors of the rainbow made it all the more valuable and luxurious.
Historically, it was believed that opals had magic powers that could render the wearer invisible. This superstition has to do with the Greek word, opallios, related to opacity and sight.
After being treasured for centuries as the most desirable gemstone of all, public opinion eventually took a dramatic turn—many started to see opals as a sign of bad luck.
This shift in popular view is always traced back to Sir Walter Scott’s famous gothic novel Anne of Geierstein (1829). In the story, an opal stone seemed to perpetuate the untimely demise of a certain Baroness.
Eventually, however, the stone’s reputation was mostly restored to its former popularity.
Opals have a tremendous amount of significance for those who believe in gemstones’ metaphysical and spiritual properties.
Traditionally, opal is said to have a wide array of healing properties, especially for skin disorders and eye ailments.
Beyond the realm of physical health, opal is often associated with love, passion, desire, and fertility.
It’s also the official birthstone for October due to its beautiful iridescent shifts that prominently feature seasonal autumn colors like red, orange, and green.
Opal is also the designated gemstone that marks a couple’s 14th year of marriage.
The opal gemstone has taken on many meanings since it was first discovered. But its rarity, unique beauty, and stunning variety set it apart from other gems to this day.
With such a rich history and a natural brilliance, is it any wonder that opal is still such a popular choice in both affordable jewelry and fine jewelry?
No matter what the stone means to you personally, it’s a classic staple that stands out in any jewelry or accessory collection.
If opal gemstones are missing from your jewelry box, you’re missing out! Here’s our current assortment of affordable (and irresistible) opal jewelry.
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