The opal is the birthstone for October… or tourmaline, depending on who you ask. Opals are the most well-known birthstone for the month of October. They are very varied rocks, with varying looks depending on how they originated. Some jewelry uses precious opals, which are noted for their brilliant iridescent hues. However, even the less brilliant common opals have a tranquil beauty that makes them desirable as specimens.

Opals, unlike most other gemstones, do not qualify as minerals in the traditional sense. They are made up of a dense lattice of microscopic silica spheres. Because of the interference of light with their internal structures, these jewels, known for their “dance of colors,” flash rainbow colors when moved.

Opals develop in volcanic rocks near the surface, inside holes, and fractures. Percolating water in the ground dissolves silica, which finally precipitates to produce opal in sedimentary volcanic ash rock. In rare circumstances, it is used to replace fossils — shells, bones, and wood – whose original material has decomposed.

Opal Characteristics

Opal is a delicate stone whose appearance may be readily changed by changes in heat and pressure. The look of the gemstone is determined by the quantity of water contained inside it. When water evaporates from the opal, the stone shrinks somewhat and the tension of the evaporation causes fissures.

Opals’ distinctive hues are caused by imperfections inside the stone. Tiny gas bubble inclusions are seen in milky or pearly opals. Yellows and reds indicate the presence of iron oxides. Magnesium oxides and organic carbon inside the stone give the magnificent black opals their hue, which occasionally flashes green, blue, and red. The harlequin pattern is one of the most precious opal patterns, with big angular areas of red, yellow, and green that resemble the checks on a clown’s outfit.

Australia produces the majority of the world’s opals. It is well-known for its stunning black opals. Ethiopia is another new opal-producing country. On a lesser scale, a diverse range of opals may be discovered in northern Nevada, including some in the form of petrified wood. Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Turkey, and the Czech Republic are also commercial opal producers.

legend of opal

The term “opal” is derived from the Sanskrit word “upala” as well as the Latin word “opalus,” which means “precious stone.”

Pliny the Elder, an ancient Roman natural historian, wrote of the opal’s mesmerizing iridescence in his work “The Natural History of Precious Stones.”

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