Opal Gemstone Education
According to Australian Aboriginal legend, opal was born from a rainbow that brought the Dreamtime creator to earth. After he told mankind of his hopes for eternal peace, the creator went back into the heavens; but the rocks he stood upon retained his presence by absorbing all colors of the rainbow and turning to opal. Opal has also been considered a good luck talisman and lucky charm throughout the ages. They can allegedly induce mystical vision and enhance creativity. Famous opal lovers include Napoleon Bonaparte and Queen Victoria of England.
Choosing a stone
- Types of opal: There are many types of opal such as light, boulder, black and fire. Light opal refers to the milky, white variety that sparkles with a range of pastel colors. Boulder opal refers to stones from Queensland, Australia that are still attached to their ironstone host rock. The rarest opals are black opals, also of Australian origin, which are characterized by bright, almost electric colors radiating from a dark background. Fire opal is volcanic in origin and radiates a bright orange-yellow.
- Color and brilliance: There is no characteristic color for opals, so choosing a stone is largely a matter of personal taste. Stones that show the entire spectrum are rarest, and thus the most valuable, but many people like opals that shine with just blues and greens. The brighter the opal, the more valuable it is.
- Cut: Opals are almost always cut and polished in cabochon. Light and black opals are typically oval in shape, but boulder opals are often left in irregular configurations. Fire opals, on the other hand, are often faceted in a step-cut.
- Enhancements: “Composite opals” can be created when a thin slice of opal is attached to a dark background to bring out the color and contrast. If there are just two layers—the dark background and the opal slice—it is called a doublet; if there is a third protective layer of quartz glass on top, the composite is called a ‘triplet.’ Angara only sells solid white opal. Surface coatings are sometimes added to improve durability.
Australia produces 95% of the world’s opal supply
- White opal comes from mines in South Australia, like Coober Pedy, Andamooka and Mintabie, and also from other continents such as North America and Europe
- Boulder opals come only from Queensland, Australia
- The black opal comes from Lightning Ridge in New South Wales
- Opal is the birthstone for the month of October
- Opal is the zodiac stone for the zodiac sign Libra
- Opal is the suggested gift for fourteenth anniversaries
- Australia presented the largest black opal ever found to Queen Elizabeth II during her first trip to Australia
- Many famous personalities have loved the opal for centuries, from Cleopatra to Elizabeth Taylor; even Elvis Presley prized his vintage white opal ring