Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein
You’d be hard pressed to find a gemstone more clothed in mystery and superstition than the fiery Opal, birthstone for those born during October.
Said to be bad luck to wear one, especially if it’s not your birthstone, Opals have been associated with the Black Plague, pestilence, and death. A novel by Sir Walter Scott in which the heroine’s Opal is touched by holy water and she dies is credited with crashing the Opal market! Adding to the poor Opal’s woes were rumors started by jealous diamond merchants that the stone was unlucky.
Of course, not everyone thinks of the Opal as evil. Early Romans considered it a token of hope, purity, and good luck. Queen Victoria loved Opals and gifted both her daughters with Opals on their wedding days. And how many Opal miners made their fortunes from this stunning stone?
Composed of hydrated silicon dioxide and containing no crystalline structure, Opal is more aptly termed a “mineraloid” rather than a mineral. Opal has a water content of between 3 and 21 percent by weight.
There are several different kinds of Opal, but for our purposes here, we’ll be talking about “Precious Opal,” or “Rainbow Opal,” the one that produces brilliant flashes of color when turned in the light. This phenomenom, called “play-of-color,” yields brilliant rainbow hues and contributes to the stone’s popularity.
The word Opal is believed to come from the Sanskrit upala, or “precious stone.” About 90 percent of the world’s precious Opals are mined in Australia.
Metaphysical healers say Opal enhances creativity, imagination, and memory. Opal eases stress and depression, centering the mind and aiding in soothing dreams. Opal shields you from others’ negativity and strengthens your will to live.
Opal is believed to be beneficial for the eyes, skin, and hair, as well as regulating insulin production.
Softer than most gemstones (5.5 to 6 on the 1-10 Mohs scale), Opal is best used in jewelry that’s protected from impact, like earrings or pendants. Opals in rings should not be placed in a prong setting. Clean your Opal jewelry with a soft cloth and warm, soapy water. If not wearing it for awhile, store it in a sealed plastic bag with a damp piece of cotton so it won’t dry out and crack.
Note: The claims here aren’t meant to take the place of medical advice. They’re based on folklore and other sources, and likely “work” best if one’s belief is strong enough!