Opals are stunning, unique stones. Although they are composed of silica, similar to quartz, they are unique in that water makes up a large portion of their composition: opals can be up to 20% water by volume! Opals are also incredibly delicate. They have a tendency to break down if they dry out, and are easily cracked. Yet, they remain very popular in jewelry.
It's not hard to understand why opals are popular when you look at them! Opals are some of the most stunning stones out there. Other stones may be beautiful, with stunning colors and brilliant dispersion, but opals are nearly lifelike with their play of color. The characteristic play of light -- or fire -- within opals make them an eye-catching and interesting stone.
Opals are mined in many places around the globe, and each location is home to a unique variety. Australian opal is often considered the best kind, as it provides a stunning fire. Black opals are also more common in Australia. Fire opals are more common in Central America. Opals are mined on nearly every continent, and there are even opal mines in the United States!
Opals also come in a wide variety of colors, both background and fire. Opals can have nearly any color of fire. In terms of background, the most common colors are white or a dark gray to black, but other colors may show up. With the beautiful blend of colors, the flashing fire, and the overall mystique of opals, it's easy to see why they are a popular choice for jewelry.
Despite their popularity, however, opals can sometimes have a bad reputation. For people who are interested in the mysticism of gemstones, opals have a long history of negative superstitions. In medieval Europe, the opal seemed to resemble an "evil eye," so it was seen as evil. There was also a belief that witches used black opals to focus their powers.
A Spanish curse also adds to the idea that opals are bad news. When King Alfonso XII spurned a former lover, she got her revenge by gifting his new wife a cursed opal. The princess soon died, and the opal was gifted to a family member. Soon, everyone who owned the opal died. While cholera is the most likely suspect, the association with the opal -- as well as the allure of a romantic story -- gave opals a bad name.
The biggest contributor to the idea of an opal curse, however, was Sir Walter Scott, an English novelist. In his book Anne of Geierstein, a character has a magic opal talisman. When a drop of holy water falls on the opal, the color drains out... and the lady dies. While the story is fiction, people began to believe that an opal that lost its color would signal death to its wearer.
The Good News
The good news is that opals are most likely not cursed. Despite the stories, there is likely no connection between opals and death. Most stories have another explanation, like cholera in Alfonso's case. In the case of Anne of Geierstein -- the answer is it's a fictional story!
Conversely, opals have also had positive associations throughout history. Ancient Rome believed that opals were the luckiest of all stones. It was frequently given as a gift to high born ladies as a token of purity. This connection to purity continued, likely due to opals' beautiful white color.
Ancient Greeks, meanwhile, believed that opals could give prophetic powers. Opals were also believed to grant invisibility, making them the stone of thieves.
Opals have been beloved throughout time, despite their bad reputation. Queen Victoria herself was a noted lover of opals, and given her long life, I think it's safe to say that there is no opal curse.
Malak Jewelers has a beautiful collection of opal jewelry, in many different colors and styles. Stop by today to get your lucky new opal jewelry!
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