Widely regarded as one of the most breathtaking gemstones in the world, theopal is an iridescent stone that presents a spectacular rainbow of colors on a translucent background. L'opal is underestimated; however, opal and black opal in particular have a value that rivals diamonds and other gemstones.
Thanks to its mystical aspect, opal has long been prized by cultures around the world. In his book The World of Opals (1997), award-winning author and opal enthusiast Allan W. Eckert writes: "Some, like the ancient Arabs, believed that the stone was endowed with the brilliance of lightning and the color of fire and then fell from the sky as a gift from the gods. Others believed that the stone was simply imbued with magical powers which manifested in these amazing arrays of changing patterns and intense colors." However, many had more grounded theories as to why opal offered such a spectacular display of color. Eckert adds: "Others, of a more pragmatic slant, believed that the oil was trapped in the stone and emitted its interfering colors and patterns, such as occurs when a drop of oil is placed on the surface. some water." In fact, diffraction determines the color of opals - just like the back of a CD. The light is interrupted as it passes through the stone's natural cracks, veins and cavities, filled with water and silica solution, which has the effect of diffracting it and giving it a mixture of colors.
Just like other types of gemstones, opal is often found in low-end or high-end jewelry, including necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets, and brooches, and has variations seemingly endless.
How to identify opal
In general, opal is very easy to identify due to its striking "play of color". However, some types of opal are more difficult to identify, such as "common opal" and "fire opal", which do not show color play. There are also a variety of synthetic opal products available, including the lab-formed Gilson opal, which exhibits exceptionally vivid colors and consistent patterns, unlike genuine opal, whose patterns are often sporadic in due to natural inconsistencies. Another way to tell a real opal from a synthetic opal is to look at its "layers" from the side. In genuine opal you will usually not be able to see visible layers, whereas synthetic opal often has layers that are easy to see.
The different colors and types of opal
Like most other gemstones, opal comes in many styles including colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes. Here are some of the most sought after and valuable types of opal in the world:
The most common type of opal is white or clear opal, which can be differentiated by its milky white, cream or light gray background. Brazilian opal is a good example of clear/white opal, which often features a mixture of vibrant red or pink, blue, green and yellow tones against a translucent white background.
The most valuable opal is the black or dark opal, which features a black or dark gray colored body. Some of the highest quality black opals reach over 8,000 per carat. Some of the most recognizable black opals have a distinct black background mottled with galaxy shaped patterns of blue, green, bright yellow, red and orange; although some black opals have a simple, scattered, powdery, bright blue pattern..
If an opal is transparent or translucent and has an obvious play of color, it is most likely a crystal opal. Crystal opals are the most popular type of opal for low to mid-range jewelry. They usually feature a mix of green and blue, but some also feature bright yellow and pink tones. Mexican opals, including Mexican water opals, are particularly good examples of crystal opal.
There are dozens of types of opals found in Ethiopia; Ethiopian opal is often identifiable by its honeycomb pattern with visible veins. Ethiopia opals come in many color variations including dark orange, yellow, blue, green and red. Most Ethiopian opals are translucent and light in color.
An increasingly popular type of opal; rock opal forms in the cracks of natural brown iron rocks or, in South Australia, quartz. This creates an earthy rock with veins of iridescent opal running through the stone. Particularly striking types of rock opal feature patterns similar to leopard skin.
where do you find opal?
Opal is present all over the world; Australian mines produce over 90% of the world's precious opal, including areas such as Coober Pedy, Mintabie, Andamooka and Lightning Ridge, to name a few. Opal can also be found in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, as well as in Ethiopia and Europe, in countries such as Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. One of the most renowned opal mines in the world is Coober Pedy, South Australia, which spans a staggering eight miles. In 1956 Coober Pedy produced the largest uncut black opal in the world. Another favorite site is Lightning Ridge, Australia. This is where in 1938 miners found the famous Aurora Australis opal, the most valuable ever found, weighing 180 carats and estimated at over half a million pounds.
Healing properties of opal
Apart from its mesmerizing appearance, opal has various healing properties, both physical and emotional. Opal promotes healing of the eyes, hair and skin, and is often used to treat disorders associated with the eyes. It is also believed to help rid the body of infections. On an emotional and mental level, opal is a support stone that promotes emotional strength and healing. Opal encourages happiness by clearing the mind of negativity and promoting positivity, love, creativity and spontaneity. Opal is also considered a lucky charm.
For thousands of years, opal has been highly valued for its fascinating colors and patterns. Even better, it is a very powerful stone and much more than a pretty face; it also has excellent healing properties. Opal comes in all colors, shapes and sizes. When buying opals, always make sure the patterns are not synthetic, which means they are too uniform, and the layers are not visible. If you have the money to spend, black opals are the most valuable while light opals are much more common.