DON’T BE FOOLED BY MODERN FOLKLORE. Opal’s reputation as the stone of bad luck, cannot be any less true. Opal’s long history, kaleidoscopic colouring and beautiful versatility make this stunning October birthstone one to be celebrated.
The History of Opal
The name opal originates from the Greek ‘opallios’ which means ‘to see a change in colour’. It is no surprise where this name originates, given opal’s unique colour changing characteristics which make it so special.
Throughout history opal has been believed to bring the wearer bad luck, however this belief can be largely traced back to one pivotal piece of fiction.
It was Sir Walter Scott’s final novel, Anne of Geierstein, which linked opal to misfortune. Reader’s believed that the heroine had been bewitched by an opal, leading to her untimely death. This single piece of work was responsible for a 50% decline in sales of opal in Europe. Proving the irrevocable power of fiction on the perception of this October birthstone.
It was not always deemed an unlucky stone, however. Arabic legend tells that opal fell from the sky in bolts of lightning. Australian Aborigines believed that these colourful stones marked where the creator’s feet touched the ground and during the Middle Ages, opal was in fact a lucky stone.
Opal’s unique play of colours was first explained in the 1960’s by scientists who discovered that the gem was composed of microscopic silica sphere which diffracted light to display its range of colours.
Opal was first discovered in Australia in 1849 by the German geologist, Johannes Menge. Since then, Australia has produced over 90% of the world’s supply of opal. This October gem is formed when the rains soaked the dry Outback rocks, carrying silica deep underground. In some instances, water has seeped around seashells, skeletons and wood to result in astounding opalized fossils.
The world’s most expensive opal was found in 1956. Known as the ‘Olympic Australis’, this stunning stone was valued at $2.5m in 2005. Measuring 11 inches, this precious specimen is kept secure in Sydney and is measured at a breathaking 17,000 carats
Opal has long been admired by the rich and famous. Famous opal lovers include, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley, Andy Warhol and Victoir De Castellane, Creative Director of Dior Fine Jewellery.
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Victoir states:
“I am crazy about Australian Opals. They look artificial but are completely natural. You get every colour in one stone; that’s economic, non? And the colours are so fluorescent; they’re very strange, almost like a rainbow.”
Opal is a popular choice not only for pendant necklaces, but in statement earrings and unique engagement rings. Available in three forms, precious, common and fire, opal gives out an exuisite range of colours making it a versatile stone.