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Opal properties

Opal history and healing properties
"A thousand fires" ring with mexican cantera opal

The opal derives its name from the Sanskrit "Upala," meaning gem or precious stone. This ancient term gave rise to the Latin "Opalus" and the Greek "Opallios," both signifying "to see a change of color," evoking the ability of this stone to reveal moving color patterns.

Until 2007, opal was classified as a mineral, but its composition reveals a more complex nature. Indeed, it mainly consists of cristobalite, tridymite, and hydrated amorphous silica. Its water content, typically ranging from 3 to 9%, can sometimes reach 20% in certain varieties, imparting to each opal its unique characteristics and incomparable brilliance.
Although the chemical composition of opal shares similarities with quartz and other comparable minerals, its crystalline structure gives it remarkable individuality.
The exceptional quality of opals is revealed through the purity of their crystals, an essential criterion determining their ability to produce enchanting iridescent reflections.

The fascinating universe of opals is divided into two fundamental varieties: common opal and precious opal, the latter being a form of quartz with remarkable transparency. Unlike common opal, which reveals no play of color, precious opal offers an enchanting spectacle of shimmering and changing hues.
This striking phenomenon of play of color results from the random arrangement of microscopic plates of tridymite or cristobalite spheres within the stone. These structures act as a diffraction network, capturing and refracting light to create unique and mesmerizing iridescent flashes.

History, legends and beliefs about opals

In Australia, the Aboriginal people nicknamed opal the "rainbow serpent," attributing celestial origins to this stone. According to an ancient legend, the creator deity captured the shimmering colors of the rainbow to merge them and create opal. Another legend tells of the deity traversing the skies on a rainbow road, leaving behind luminous traces that crystallized into opals at each step.

Ancient Greeks also wove mysterious tales around opal. It’s said that the tears of joy shed by Zeus after his victory over the Titans would transform into opals as soon as they touched the ground. This gemstone was then associated with powers of clairvoyance and prophecy, bestowing upon its holder an aura of mystery and wisdom.

History and healing properties of opal
"Orion" pendant with mexican cantera opal

The Romans, driven by their fascination with opal, considered it a symbol of hope and purity, attributing sacred virtues to this stone. They were pioneers of the first markets dedicated to opal, thus testifying to its status as a precious gem. A famous anecdote recounts that Marc Antony exiled a senator who dared to refuse to sell him an opal intended for Cleopatra, a stone valued at nearly 60,000 Euros at the time.

In India, a captivating legend tells the story of the rainbow goddess, who, besieged by numerous suitors, made the radical decision to transform herself into opal to escape their insistence. This transformation into a dazzling gemstone became a symbol of her eternal beauty and inviolable purity.

In the rich Arab culture, an enchanting belief persisted: opal was born from celestial lightning, with its intense light captured at the heart of the rock. This ancient conviction bestowed upon this gem a mystical and magical aura, symbolizing cosmic forces and eternal light.

Across the Atlantic, in North America, opal reveals a fascinating history dating back nearly 10,000 years in the Virgin Valley. The earliest traces of exploitation of this precious stone bear witness to the ancestral fascination of indigenous peoples for its unique beauty and mysterious properties.

In Kenya, within the depths of a cave, remarkable archaeological discoveries have amazed the world: the oldest objects adorned with opals, dating back to 4,000 years before Christ, have been unearthed. These precious treasures, witnesses to a millennia-old history, seem to have traveled from Ethiopia to dazzle ancient civilizations.

During the Middle Ages, opal was revered under the evocative name of "ophthalmios" - the eye stone - due to the belief in its beneficial properties for vision. Blonde women, concerned with preserving the brilliance of their hair, also wore opals as necklaces, convinced that these precious gems would maintain the vivacity of their colors.

Opal was burdened with a sinister reputation for many years, primarily due to the powerful myth forged around Sir Walter Scott’s novel, "Anne of Geierstein; or, The Maiden of the Mist," published in 1829. In this enchanting tale, Scott narrates the tragic story of Lady Hermione, unjustly accused of witchcraft, who dies after her opal receives a few drops of holy water. This captivating legend sowed doubt and fear in people’s minds, and within a few months, the opal market plummeted by nearly 50%, thus marking the considerable influence of popular beliefs on the perceptions and values of precious gemstones.

Famous opals in the history

opal history and healing properties
"Estrella" ring with mexican cantera opal

The Olympic Australis opal stands out as the largest and most precious discovery to date. With an estimated value of $2,500,000 for its impressive 17,000 carats, this exceptional gem was named in honor of the Olympic Games that were held in Melbourne at the time of its discovery. It remains, to this day, in its raw state, preserved from any cutting or polishing, enhancing its unique character and original authenticity.

The Queen’s Fire may embody the quintessence of opal in the collective imagination. Celebrated as the most iconic example of opal’s eye, this legendary gem fascinates with its captivating play of colors, evoking the flamboyance and majesty of an incandescent royal fire.

The Andamooka opal was presented by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during her first trip to Australia in the 1950s, a gesture that left a mark in history. Weighing an impressive 203 carats, this exceptional opal was set in a sparkling pendant adorned with shimmering diamonds, symbolizing the union of natural beauty and craftsmanship.

The Trojan Fire is a legendary opal, gifted by Napoleon to his beloved wife, Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais, and it remains a timeless icon of love and luxury. This renowned black opal, weighing 700 carats at the time, was the largest known opal of its time. However, its mysterious and tumultuous fate has marked its history: disappeared after Joséphine’s death, it resurfaced a century later, bought by the city of Vienna for an estimated sum of $50,000. Yet once again, it was engulfed by the shadows of history at the end of World War II, leaving behind a legacy of mystery and splendor.

The Australis Dawn stands out as a rare and precious gem among black opals, being recognized as one of the most exquisite in its category. With its 180 carats of pure splendor, this gem embodies elegance and rarity, captivating collectors and enthusiasts worldwide. Its name evokes the enchanting lights of the aurora borealis, reflecting the magic and grace of this exceptional gemstone.

Mines: USA, Mexico, New Zealand, Czech Republic and Australia.

Healing properties and benefits of the opal

  • Opal, with its multiple legendary virtues, is renowned as a spiritual guide and a catalyst for transformations in life.
  • This precious stone, with its magical properties, is believed to awaken creativity, stimulate imagination, and enhance memory, offering a boost of inspiration and innovation.
  • Traditionally recommended for pregnant women, opal is associated with maternal protection and a serene childbirth.
  • This unique gem is known to soothe emotional turmoil, thereby limiting bouts of anger and episodes of depression.
  • As a stone of change, opal accompanies those who wear it through life’s transitions, offering support and guidance along the way.
  • Opal is celebrated for its healing properties: it is believed to combat allergies, purify the liver, prevent the formation of gallstones, and dissolve fibroids, thus providing holistic balance for the well-being of the body and mind.

⚠ Please note that all healing properties presented for gemstones are gathered from various sources. This information is provided as a service and is not intended to treat medical conditions. It is recommended to consult a healthcare professional for serious medical issues and not to rely solely on gemstones as a treatment.

Opal jewelry samples

Shooting star, celestial earrings in sterling silver, gold, and pink opal
143.00 Euros 100.00 Euros
Genealogy, birthstones bracelet in sterling silver
Estrella, sterling silver Mexican cantera opal ring
Nebula, astronomy ring in sterling silver and Mexican cantera opal

To learn more about litotherapy, we recommend you the following books:

Crystalpedia: the wisdom, history, and healing power of more than 180 sacred stones
Around 27.00 US dollars
Crystals for healing: the complete reference guide with over 200 remedies for mind, heart & soul
Around 17.00 US dollars
Crystals for beginners: the guide to get started with the healing power of crystals
Around 15.00 US dollars