Opals: Fire and Ice

Opals: Fire and Ice

Opals are a birthstone for October and so much more.  I am brazenly fascinated by opals, and I encourage everyone to love them too. [i]  Let's dive in.    

Historical context

Listen to historic voices celebrating opals. The word opal comes from the Greek word opallios, meaning "to see a change in color." Considering this definition, it’s easy to see why these gems are associated with the month of October.
Bedouins believed that opals contained lightning and fell from the sky during thunderstorms. For early Romans, opals symbolized love and hope. Pliny the Elder, around 75 AD, marveled that this unique gem could flash the red of ruby, the green of emerald, the yellow of topaz, the blue of sapphire, and the purple of amethyst. Of all the amazing gems in our world, opals inspire my admiration since each opal is unique.

Where opals are found

Opal deposits exist across the globe.  Australia, Ethiopia, and Mexico are best known  The Andes of Peru, Brazil, and the Pacific Northwest of the United States also produce opals. My pendant-necklace “Firefly,” featured on the cover of this blog, highlights the amazing brilliance of Ethiopian opals. I remember working with these gems before creating the necklace; I was amazed by their dramatic luminescence. Put these gems against any color of fabric, and they glow. 

Opal Inspiration

I'm drawn to the color blue, so opals found in the Andes of Peru also captured our heart.  Here is an example of an uncut gem.

We named our homage to this beautiful gem “Sky Mountain”.  When Peruvian opals are cut, it is common to leave little pieces of matrix (the soil supporting the gem) on the cut gem.  The overall effect is of the sky and earth touching each other.

People associate black opals with Australia and especially Lightening Ridge. Black opals were also just discovered in Ethiopia.

A look at the play of color pictured in the polished black opal pictured above.  It demonstrates why they are so valued. Opals enhance our world.

I added Mexican fire opals to my bucket list a long time ago. Can you imagine earrings created from these stunning gems? WOW

Some opals, like the one pictured above from Slovakia, excite while soothing the soul.  I would love to see this gem cut as polished beads or as a cabochon for a ring. The joy would be to locate this quality while capturing the blue iridescence of the Ethiopian opals and the fire flashes of  Mexican opals.  Any wonder why I shop the globe to find all manner of gems at great prices? Happy hunting everyone. 

Best, Peggy

What do you think?  I love comments, like… 

"Fascinating. I absolutely learned new things about gems. It makes me appreciate them more."  Carolyne


and if you are not already,…

Become a VIP: coupons, free shipping, announcements of new blogs and tips in your inbox. 

We NEVER share the list.  Just click or visit the link below:


 [i]  While people consider opals unlucky, please file this superstition away as an urban myth dating back to the 1800s and a novel by Sir Walter Scott. 

1 comment

  • Carol

    What beautiful gems. I enjoyed learning about the different colors and how “impurities” can enhance the stones and make them even more interesting.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published