When I was 12, the manager in my dad’s company gave me a white Opal for my birthday. It was the type of gift that changed my life forever. I was fascinated by its rainbow colors and my passion for gems and minerals have never stopped ever since then. I carried it with me when I moved to the states in 2002 as a reminder that the world is your oyster. Other than my personal connection with Opal, it’s one of top poplar gemstones in the jewelry industry. The followings are what I learned about Opal from Gem & Mineral Society.
1. Opal contains up to 20% of water
Opal is made up of silica (same as sand) and bonded with water. The lower the initial amount of water in the opal, the better it is. Loss of water or change in temperature can cause Opal to crack or lose play of colors. So soak your Opal in water when you are not wearing it. It will help to keep the water and the colors in the gem.
2. 5 types of Opal
3. Opal is the national gemstone of Australia
Australia is the world’s primary source for Opal. It produces over 95% of the world’s Opal supply. No wonder Opal is the national gemstone of Australia.
4. Opals are soft and easily scratched
Opal is soft and it’s very easy to be scratched. Its hardness is around 5 while finger nail is 2.5. It is challenging to cut a cabochon from the raw. I have seen many times in the gem lapidary that the opal just cracked after hours of polishing it on the wheels. It’s also very challenging to set Opal in the prongs due to its softness.
5. De Beer’s rumor
In early 1900, Opal became a popular gemstone and De Beer, a diamond giant, feared the Opal was going to take over the gem market and become more popular than Diamond. They started to spread rumor that Opal is a bad luck stone. I still remember when I received Opal as my birthday gift. My grandma told me it’s unlucky to own it. But I never listened.
6. Opal with supernatural powers from history
The Romans thought Opal is a stone of love and hope while the Arabs believed Opal fell from heaven in flashes of lightning. The ancient Greeks thought Opals gave their owners the gift of prophecy and guarded them from disease.
7. Soak Opal in the water
When you are not wearing your Opal jewelries, soak them in the water. It will prevent them from cracking or lose the play of color. Once the rainbow colors disappear, it’s very difficult to bring them back.
I hope you are learning more about Opal after reading this post.