Opal Stone Overview
Opal is a semi-precious gemstone that has been around for thousands of years. Due to its colorful appearance, it has been used for everything from jewelry to art. It also symbolizes purity, hope, and new beginnings.
Opal is connected to the Sacral Chakra, which governs our spiritual connection and how we connect with others. Opal has been used as an amulet to protect travelers, especially those who travel on the sea or river.
This article will talk about the properties, meanings, and uses of the Opal Stone.
What Is Opal Stone?
Opal is the birthstone for October and is the national gemstone of Australia. It is a natural gemstone that has a play of color and sheen. The play of color ranges from yellow to red, blue, green, and white.
Because of its unique properties, Opal has been used as a tool for reflection and meditation for thousands of years.
Opal Stone can be used to protect against evil, and it’s also associated with love, purity, and hope. Opal is sometimes referred to as “the stone of wishes” because it can help us manifest our deepest desires.
The term “opal” is used to describe a hydrated amorphous form of silica.
The name “opal” is derived from the Latin word “opalus,” which means precious stone. The Opal was known in ancient Rome as the “Queen of Gems” because it encompassed all the colors of the other gems.
Opals are opaque stones, meaning they are not transparent. Instead, they have a milky finish that makes them look foggy or cloudy. However, opals can be translucent, meaning you can see the light through the stone when it is held up to a light source.
Opal stones are also known for their ability to reflect light iridescently, making them glow brightly when exposed to sunlight or fluorescent light. This gives Opals an appearance that seems to change as the angle of light changes.
It’s also one of the most colorful stones on the planet! It can be found in many colors, including white, blue, yellow, orange, and red.
The most common Opal is white, but you may also find black, grey, or blue opals. The stone’s color varies depending on where it was formed and how much iron and silica are in the rock.
Structure and Composition of Opal
Opal is a substance that’s not a mineral; instead, they are mineraloid. Opals are made up of silica, the same stuff that makes up sand and quartz, but they also contain water.
The coloration in opals comes from their structure. Light passes through an opal and refracts and reflects off the atoms within it. These atoms are arranged randomly in a lattice-like pattern and give off different colors depending on their spacing and size.
The Opal stone is made up of silicon dioxide, known as SiO2. It also contains water, iron, and other trace elements.
Opal’s structure comprises tiny silica spheres held together by hydrogen bonds. These bonds are weak, so the spheres can slide past each other easily. This gives the Opal its unique appearance as it reflects light from different directions.
|Chemical name||Hydrated Silica|
|Color||Many colors, White|
|Hardness (Mohs scale)||5.5 – 6.5|
|Refractive Index||1.37 – 1.47|
|Luster||Subvitreous to waxy|
|Transparency||Transparent to opaque.|
Opal stone is found all over the world, but it’s most abundant in Australia. The country produces about 90% of the world’s supply, with opal fields located in Queensland and New South Wales.
In addition to Australia, you can also find Opal in:
Varieties of Opal Stone
Opal is a precious stone that comes in wide varieties. Here are some of the most common opal types:
Black Opal is a precious stone mined in Australia. Its distinguishing feature is its opaqueness and black coloration that is caused by carbon deposition on the stone.
This type of precious gemstone features a dark background with bright spots or patches that appear to move as you change your perspective.
The color and pattern of this stone vary greatly depending on where it’s found and how it was formed. It can range from black to dark gray, green to blue, and sometimes red or orange.
White Opal stone is the most common type of Opal. White Opal has a very high brightness of color and a very low contrast ratio. This gemstone is characterized by a milky white appearance that gives off an iridescent sheen when light hits it at different angles.
White Opal has been used as a gemstone since ancient times and is still a popular choice today.
Fire opal is a variety of Opal. As its name suggests, it has a translucent color ranging from yellowish green to orange or red. The coloration derives from impurities present in the stone’s structure.
The most common impurities are chromium, iron, and magnesium. When these minerals come into contact with oxygen, they form a type of opalescence that gives fire opals their signature coloration.
Fire opals are also found in Australia, Brazil, China, and the United States (Nevada). It’s often cut into cabochons and used in jewelry and carvings.
Boulder opal is a variety of Opal that comes from Queensland, Australia. Boulder opal is created when water deposits minerals on the base of an existing rock formation.
This process can take thousands of years to complete and will create an opal with beautiful patterns inside and outside it. Boulder opal is composed of a mixture of silica, water, and organic material compacted under extreme pressure while still in a semi-liquid state.
The matrix opal stone is a type of Opal that forms within the spaces between other materials, such as quartz and sandstone. This means that matrix opals are usually found in sedimentary rock.
The color of matrix opals can vary, but they’re most often white or grayish-white with spots or streaks of color. The most common colors are yellow, green, blue, and red.
The most famous deposits of matrix opal are located near Coober Pedy in Australia.
Composite Opal (doublet and triplet) is a type of Opal made up of several layers of different materials. The first layer is usually an opal-like substance, but it can also be another material altogether. The second layer is usually glass, which can create a beautiful effect when the composite Opal is held up to the light.
The history of composite Opal goes back to the early 20th century, but it became popular in the 1960s when artists began experimenting with different combinations and techniques. These days composite opals are used in jewelry and art pieces worldwide.
Other Opal types include Ethiopian Opal, Green Opal, Pink Opal, Crystal opal, and Water opal.
Precious vs. Common Opal
Precious opals are rarer than common opals and are more valuable because their color is more vibrant. In addition, they tend to have fewer fractures in their structure than common opals. This means a precious opal can be cut into smaller pieces without losing its beauty.
Precious Opal has vivid colors that can range from blue-green to red-orange. In addition, they have a body color or play-of-color that ranges from white to black and includes all the hues in between.
Precious opals are also more fragile than common opals, so they must be handled carefully when sold or transported.
Common opals are the most common type of Opal stones, and they usually have a milky appearance with a waxy luster. They typically have white, grey, or black body colors.
Common Opal is the most abundant and inexpensive type of Opal; it has a milky appearance with a color range from white to brown. Common opals lack this play-of-color, so their body color appears uniform throughout.
Synthetic Opal Stone
Wide varieties of synthetic Opals have been created by heating and combining other substances in a flame until they form Opal’s signature play-of-color.
Synthetic Opal stones are produced through a process in which a solution of silica and water is polymerized to form a gel. The gel is then heated, which causes it to expand into opal-like shapes.
The differences between synthetic versus natural opals are subtle: natural opals tend to have more vivid color play than synthetics do.
However, most people can’t tell the difference without magnification or close inspection due to their similar appearance under normal lighting conditions.
Price & Value
The value of an opal depends on a few things: color, size, carats, quality, and location are all factors that affect the price of an opal stone.
Size: The larger an opal is, the more costly it will be. The size of opals can range from 2 mm to 10 mm.
Color: The most expensive are black opals because they’re rarer than white or crystal ones. Black opals are traditionally more expensive than white ones because they have more depth and contrast than white opals. The most expensive one ever sold went for $2.5 million in 2001.
Location: Another factor is where they were found; Australia has some amazing opal mines, so Australian Opals tend to be more expensive.
How To Tell If It Is Real?
Below are some tips that will help you tell if your Opal is authentic:
- Look at the color and pattern. A natural opal will have a variety of colors that are not always uniform throughout the stone. A fake opal may have one color throughout or many different colors with no variation between them. Opal stones should also have an uneven pattern with lots of variation, while artificial stones usually have a consistent design with slight variation between them.
- Test its hardness. Opals are relatively soft, so that they can scratch easily with a knife or other sharp object. Therefore, genuine Opal cannot be marked by softer materials like pearls or basalt.
- A genuine opal should not have layers when viewed from the side. It is one solid stone.
In the Hindu tradition, the Opal stone is a sacral chakra stone. The sacral chakra is located at the base of your spine and is responsible for your sense of security, safety, and belonging. It also governs your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
Opal has long been associated with these concepts because its reflective nature reminds us that we are part of an interconnected universe—a world where every aspect reflects on every other part.
Meaning And Uses
- The opal stone has a long history of being used in jewelry, dating back to the Bronze Age. This unique gemstone can make beads, cabochons (small flat gems), rings, bracelets, pendants, earrings, necklaces, and more.
- It is also used as an industrial abrasive and cosmetics ingredient.
- The most crucial use of Opal as an abrasive is in the manufacture of glass. In this process, Opal is used to grinding down the surface of glass until it becomes smooth enough to be used in windows or other optical devices.
- Opal stones have also been used to create beautiful pottery from ancient times. Because of their ability to change color depending on the lighting conditions, opals make fantastic glazes on ceramics because they give them depth and dimensionality when viewed in different light settings around your home.
- Opal is one of the most versatile stones for using cases. It can be used as a fire starter, heat-resistant material, or even as insulation media in some places.
- Opal stones have been used as insulation media since the 1800s. They have high thermal conductivity and can be used in hot and cold environments.
How To Take Care Of Opal Stone Jewelry?
Opals are delicate stones that need special care to ensure their longevity. If you want to keep your jewelry looking brand new for years to come, follow these tips for cleaning it:
- For natural opals, use warm water with mild dishwashing liquid and scrub gently with an old toothbrush until all visible dirt has been removed; then rinse well with warm water.
- Do not use abrasive products or harsh chemicals like bleach.
- To dry your jewelry after cleaning it, place it on a soft towel and dab it gently with another dry cloth (or paper towel) until no moisture remains visible on the surface of the opal stone or metalwork supporting it.
- Burn white sage or other cleansing materials to remove any excess negative energy.
- Recharge your stone by (bury in the ground, leave overnight during a full moon, pour salty water over it for a few minutes)
- Do not use hot water, steam cleaner, or ultrasonic cleaner. Do not wear jewelry during heavy exercise. Store it in a cool and dry place.
What gemstones go well with Opal Stone?
Opals go best with other gems that are neutral in color and have low-to-moderate clarity.
For example, opals look great when paired with white sapphires, tanzanite, or pink tourmaline. Opals also go well with other blue stones like aquamarine and blue zircon because they share the same cool color palette.
Is Opal Stone heat treated?
No, opals are not heat-treated.
Some opal can be enhanced with heat or pressure to make it more firey or bright, but this is a natural process and does not change the stone’s chemical composition.
Are Opals Good for Everyday wear?
Opals are beautiful and unique, but their softness makes them unsuitable for everyday wear.
Opals are soft and porous, which makes them vulnerable to scratching and damage. In addition, they’re not durable enough to withstand everyday wear and tear. Because of this, opals should only be worn occasionally or on special occasions.
If you want to wear an opal daily, you should consider it carefully and choose one that’s been treated with a protective coating or included in a piece of jewelry that protects it from damage.
What is the rarest Opal color?
Opal is a gemstone that comes in many colors and patterns. The rarest opal color is black Opal. Black Opal is also known as fire opal and can be found in Australia, Brazil, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the USA.