Fire and water, the perfect mix of natural elements. Together they make a visually stunning stone. Opal isn’t the most popular stone for mineral collections and interior design, but it should start climbing the list. There are many distinctive characteristics and qualities which make opal stand apart from other minerals.
The Creation of Opal
Known as a water stone because it has higher concentrations of water than most other minerals, opals are formed as water picks up sandstone and silica when it moves through layers of earth. The stone is created from the silica deposit left behind when the water evaporates, although some water still remains behind.
Opals Throughout History
Australian Aborigines believed that the creator rode down to earth on a rainbow, and opals formed on the spot where his foot first touched the soil.
The Ancient Greeks believed that these precious stones were the tears of Zeus and valued them as highly as they did diamonds.
Ancient Indian people thought that opals where the goddess of the rainbow turned to stone.
In the Middle Ages, the opal was considered to be particularly lucky because it was believed to possess the positive properties of all the stones (colors) depicted within it.
There are several famous opals throughout history including a black opal named “Burning of Troy” given by Napoleon to his wife Josephine, and the “Andamooka Opal” which was given as a gift to Queen Elizabeth II of England upon her first visit to Australia.
Types and Characteristics of Opal
The white opal is the most well-known form of the mineral, but there are several other kinds including:
- Yowah Nuts from Queensland
- Mexican Fire Stone
Opal is silica based, and although these stones typically contain roughly 10% water, they have been known to have up to 25% water in their composition. The arrangement of silica-spheres contained within opals give a rainbow-like appearance. They refract light and look different depending on the angle at which they are being viewed.
Taking Care of Opal
This visually dynamic stone was made to be displayed in more than just pendants. Living spaces with lots of light are ideal homes for opal. It’s a great choice for interior design. This is a soft stone, and polishing one can damage it permanently. Every once in a while, soak your opal in water to help it gain lost moisture. Need more opal care tips or interior design ideas? A Rockology expert can help you with all of your gem questions and can assist you in choosing a beautiful Brazilian or Mexican opal for your home.