Belief in gemstones is an ancient thing. Many people including kings, emperors, and queens used to believe in gemstones especially when it comes to good and bad luck. While diamonds and sapphires were considered a symbol of good luck, opal stones were associated with bad luck.
Opal stone has a bad history according to folk tales, rumors, and superstitious talks. As per these folk tales and beliefs, opal symbolism relates to bad luck and misfortune. This blog explains the reality behind opal stone’s belief and its good qualities.
History of Opal Stone
Much folklore in history talks about precious stones, gems, and crystals. People have believed in traditions related to gemstones and crystals. Different gemstones were related to different things such as emeralds with intelligence and fertility and rubies with protection against misfortune. But opal stones were associated with bad luck. People in olden times used to believe that opal stone brings bad luck.
Many folklorists also were confused when the thing was about an opal stone. Even today, people consider an opal as a sign of bad luck, especially in countries such as the Middle East and Europe. Many people also avoid opal stone jewelry today. Even jewelers do not include opal stone in making earrings or rings.
History of Romans and Opal Stones
We discussed above that opal stone was considered bad luck in the Middle East and European countries. Contrary to that, Romans considered an opal as a symbol of good luck. They also used to buy opal stones from Middle East countries.
According to Roman history, opal was the combination of the elegance of all the precious gemstones. Roman history also describes that Caesars gifted opal stones to their wives as a sign of good luck. For Romans, opal ranked second next to emeralds.
Romans had many other beliefs related to Opal stones. They believed that opal brings good fortune and makes life colorful like a colorful rainbow. Besides, opal was also considered a good luck charm. It also denotes purity and hope.
Even Greeks had some good beliefs related to the opal stone. According to Greek history, the opal stone gifted prophecy and foresight to its owner. Arabian folklore also has mention of opal stone saying that this stone fell from flashes of lights from heaven. Moreover, the stone is considered a symbol of hope.
Qualities of Opals
Opals come in different sizes, shapes, patterns, and qualities. Every opal stone has something different from another stone. The major factors of an opal’s quality are listed as under:
- Pattern- Arrangement of colors
- Color- The background color of the stone
- Clarity- Quantity of inclusions in a stone with transparency of the stone
Different Colors of Opals
Several opal hues are starting from a single shade to rainbow shades. This stone is divided into different kinds according to the background colors. The main types of opals are listed as under:
1. Black Opal
Black opal is the rarest kind of opal with a dark background. It looks beautiful on a dark background and gives a more elegant look.
2. Fire Opal
Body Color of fire opal is normally red, orange, or yellow. It can be transparent or translucent. The main material in fire opal is Mexican fire opal.
3. White Opal
Opal with a background of translucent to opaque white and light background is white opal.
4. Crystal and Water Opal
Crystal opal has a transparent or semi transparent background. Water opal might or might not have a play of color.
5. Boulder Opal
Boulder opal has a translucent to opaque background. It has thin layers within the host rock namely the matrix. You can cut opal with an attached matrix; it is a finished gem.
Play-of-color is the main factor that decides the price of an opal. Stones with bright play-of-color are more expensive than faint play-of-colors.
Patterns of an Opal
The pattern is the arrangement of play-of-color in an opal. Play-of-color takes multiple forms and shapes. Let us have a look at the terms used for play-of-color patterns of an opal:
- Peacock- Green, and Blue
- Pinfire- Small color patches
- Flame- reddish streaks
- Mosaic- Broad color patches
The colors of the stone must be bright to increase its value. Another important factor is extinction while evaluating the pattern of an opal. Extinction or dead spot is an area where no play-of-color appears and only background is visible.
Clarity And Transparency of An Opal
The clarity in opal is the transparency and no inclusions. Opals can range from transparent to opaque. Experts consider different clarity levels for various types of opals. In the case of crystal opal, experts look at transparency whereas they look at the opaque background in black opal.
Different clarity characteristics of an opal determine its value. It can have surface blemishes, fractures, and pits like other gemstones. Cracks and fractures affect the quality of opal. They also lead to crazing or crack in a stone. This type of opal has a lower price in the market. Many dealers sell crazed opals at a low price.
Cutting of Opal
The Cutter of the stones will determine various aspects while giving a finished look to the gem. These factors include pattern, colors, and clarity of opal. Some rare opals cannot be cut in standard shapes and sizes.
Normally, cutters cut opal in such a way that it looks beautiful with play-of-color and maximum colors. They give irregular shapes and patterns to opals to enhance their looks. Cut of an opal must be symmetrical and the dome should be round in shape. The Dome surface gives attractive play-of-colors and makes the opal looks vivid and beautiful.
Opals come in various sizes and carat weights. They are comfortable to wear and have low density. Common sizes of opal cabochons include 7×5, 6×4, and 8×6 mm. Australia has more than 90% of opals compared to other countries of the world. We discussed the qualities of opal and how this stone can be cut to use in different pieces of jewelry. It is a good stone and makes any jewelry look elegant.