Opal, the Gem that Shines Relentlessly
Opal, a fascinating variety of gem is a product from the xeric regions of the world. Loved for its mysterious display of rainbow colors, the stone has captured the hearts and imaginations of people for centuries.
Unlike other gemstones that form under intense pressure and temperature in the bowels of the earth, opals are created by seasonal rain on dry grounds. Rainwater passes through the cracks of the dry earth and travels towards the underlying rocks carrying heavy amounts of dissolved silica in it. During hot days, when this water evaporates, it leaves behind great hunks of solid silica. In this silica, deposits are born opals.
Opal has a long and meandering history much of which is shrouded in myths and hearsays. Each mining country has its own history of opals. Sometimes the dates align, other times they don’t.
The etymological root of the word “opal” has been found in Greek and Latin languages. The Greeks called it Opallios and the Latins, Opalus. Both the terms literally translate to “color change”
Although no specific date could be ascribed to the discovery of these exquisite stones, geologists are of the opinion that opals of the first relics found in Kenyan caves date back to 4000BC. It was much later in 1990 that these stones were rediscovered by miners. Pictures of a Hungarian royalty wearing opal crusted uniform indicates that the stone was in use in jewelry since before then.
Back in the medieval times, the stone was believed to be an object of desire by blond damsels because it was believed to prevent blond hair from going lighter or darker.
In some cultures, opal was called the Patronus stone because it could render a person invisible. That made the stone a popular talisman to carry with for thieves.
Although always recognized as a symbol of love and passion, opals also had religious connotations. The therapeutic power of opal made it a prayer stone.
Types of Opal used for Jewels
Broadly, opals are of two kinds, common and precious, but specifically, opals are classified by their colors. So far, there are four types of opals that have risen to popularity and are a part of jewelry collections at large. These are black opal, white opal, jelly opal, and crystal opal. Other varieties that are found in nature are fire opal, water opal, honey opal, hyalite, boulder, Peruvian opal, Matrix opal, and hydrophane.
The most precious of them all is the black opal. Mined in large quantities in Lightning Ridge, these stones are not completely black, although they are called so. Against a blackish body, these stones display luminous shades of red, yellow, green and orange. The blackness of the body gives the colors on the fore an electric quality.
White opals are the most commonly seen type. Ranging from gray to colorless, these stones have a milky body color and vivid veins of colors on the surface. Unique and magnificent, these stones are also called light opals.
Third in line in aesthetics is fire opals. With a translucent body, these stones bear warm and fiery shades of orange, green, yellow, red and blue. The colors flash up against the clear background looking surreal.
Some water opals, like fire opals too, are transparent and have an internal sheen reflecting blue and gold colors.
Opal is a gemstone that has for centuries been associated with love. It is also believed to have connections with the associated emotions of desire and passion. Since ancient times, the stone stands as a symbol of marital fidelity. It stands for assurance and commitment.
White opal is symbolic of our spiritual condition, in that it greatly improves imagination and increases productivity. Its relation with the chakras too is ancient. It is through this connection that white opal can bring about behavioral changes turning the wearers more positive and productive. It also stands for creativity and is known to help one’s creativity levels.
Opal, the birthstone of October-born people is potent with symbols. Commonly gifted on the 14th wedding anniversary, this stone is said to be packed with mystical powers. In astrology, opal is a powerful trait amplifier. It is known to bring the traits of its wearer to the surface, and that’s why it is one of the stones that should not be used without astrological recommendation.
Opal is a great booster of confidence and self-worth in wearers. It boosts self-esteem and helps realize one’s true potential. The stone is believed to bring about lightness in the character and improve spontaneity. It increases creativity and encourages wearers to embark on creative projects. It is also believed to cure many diseases.
Today the opal market is huge. First, the Romans started trading it and today, it is sold worldwide. Right now, opal jewelry is a popular trend. Opal is a preferred product of adornment in jewelry that ranges both everyday and fancy. Opal rings, opal earrings, opal necklaces, opal bracelets, opal anklets, the choices are copious.
Halo is obviously a popular style in opal rings that designers often prefer ornamenting with smaller diamonds and other precious gemstones. Opal pendants are widely popular too. For pendants, chunky oval-shaped cabochon cut opal stones are used. These are often put in skinny gold or silver settings and oftentimes embellished with accent stones.
Opal bracelets are pretty popular too. It is one of the few jewelry pieces that use small size opals. The opal bracelets often have opal charms. Metal chains dotted with tiny, bezel-set opals are also popular for workwear.
The most gorgeous of all are opal drop earrings. Designed with opals the size of thumbs, these earrings are gem-studded affairs. These earrings come in many different designs, but the most popular are the halo drop earrings that feature a shimmering border around the stones.
You can also design your own opal jewelry by availing the custom feature offered by sellers these days. Visit your local jeweler or order it online.
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