Opals: Fire and Ice

Opals: Fire and Ice
Before October ends and in time for Halloween, here is a riff on the gem: opal.
Opal is one of two birthstones for October (tourmaline being the other). Memorializing your birth month with a gem is rooted in many cultures. Today, however, it is considered unlucky by some for anyone not born in October to wear opals. Please file this superstition away as an urban myth dating back only as far as the 1800s and the novel Anne of Geierstein by Sir Walter Scott.

Historical context

Let’s look even deeper into history to hear 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 fall 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 in a special way. 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. Our necklace “Fiery Light,” featured as this blogs leading picture, highlights the amazing characteristics of opals from Ethiopia. I remember working with the gems before creating the necklace and was amazed by their almost fluorescent luminescence. Put these gems against any color of fabric, and they glow. See https://whiteorchidfinejewelry.com/collections/black-orchid-necklaces/products/fiery-light for more information.

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 touching the earth.

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

One look at the play of color pictured in the polished black opal illustrates 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

Like the iridescent opal in our “Fiery Light” necklace, 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 rings. The joy would be to locate this quality and be able to capture the blue iridescence of the Ethiopian opals while also capturing the fire flashes associated with Mexican opals.
Any wonder why we search the world for all manner of gems? Happy hunting everyone. We hope you enjoy the search with White Orchid Studio.
Want to learn more?  Visit all my blogs at https://whiteorchidfinejewelry.com/blogs/the-enthusiast.

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