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Opal Gemstone

If you want precious stones then you have diamonds, sapphires and rubies. However, if you want a stone that is extraordinarily beautiful and one that enhances your style then there is nothing like an opal. Opal in Greek means change of colour. Zeus wept tears of joy when he defeated the Titans and the tears turned into opals that were believed to bestow prophetic and magical powers. However, this is disputed and some experts believe that the word is derived from the Sanskrit word Upala which means precious. According to historians this precious stone was highly prized as long back as 250 BC and the best came from India. Apart from being a fashion stone, the opal is also favored as an astrological gemstone of high value.


Opal gemstone

Here are some technical facts about Opal Gemstone. Opal is, strictly speaking, not a mineral but an amorphous mineraloid, a form of hydrated silica containing up to 21% water content. This semi-precious gemstone is usually mined from sandstone, limonite, basalt, marl and rhyolite deposits. Opal are commonly classified into two categories. One is precious in which the stone has an internal structure made up of silica spheres arranged in a lattice that can cause interference and diffraction patterns. This can give a rainbow effect to the stone.


The common opal, on the other hand is milky in appearance with a bluish to greenish tinge or it may sometimes be yellowish, brown, gray or even crystal clear. Opal stone has a hardness ranging from 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale which means it is quite soft and vulnerable to scratches so if you do wear it in a ring or in a pendant in a necklace, you need to be careful.


Sources and types


Opal is the national gemstone of Australia and that continent can proudly boast of some of the finest opals in the world and also of being the largest supplier. Some of the finest opals such as crystal opals matrix opal and black opal are from Australian mines and are known as Australian opal. Ethiopian Opal does not lag behind and its opal from the Wollo Province is known for its striking colours.


Mexico is the source of the Mexican fire opal that ranges from transparent to translucent but they do not exhibit iridescence. Another type of opal, the Mexican water opal, has a golden or bluish internal sheen. Nevada, in the US, is the source for fire, lemon, white, black and crystal opal whereas Idaho is known for its white opal. Other sources that account for smaller amounts of opal are Turkey, Brazil, Slovakia, Honduras, Guatemala, Canada, Hungary and Czech Republic.


The Andean opal has a blue-green translucence not found in other opals. Boulder opals have a strong brown tint with sparkles of color inside. Ethiopian opals look very attractive since the spread of colors inside the stone is more uniform.


Lucky gemstone

Opals have a mixed reputation. People in the Middle Ages believed that it brought great luck to its owner and embodies all the positive properties of all gemstones because the opal displayed all colours. Some believed, however, that it brought bad luck and death and that it represented the evil eye. The Romans termed it the queen of gemstones.


Be that as it may, the opal stone is considered a symbol of hope in Asia. It also has astrological significance. It is the lucky gemstone for those born in the month of October. Opals represent Venus. Venus is associated with love, marriage and relationships so, if you have a weak Venus in your birth chart, you will benefit by wearing an opal. You get its benefit and you get fashion styling too.


Some believed wearing an opal bestowed invisibility and therefore it was called patron of thieves. In ancient times the opal was considered a symbol of fidelity. It helped to protect against illnesses and disease. It is believed that opal reinforces your positive strengths and that it is a karmic stone channeling divine cosmic energy into you. Opal is said to regulate insulin and some even crushed the stone and consumed it to improve their health. Similarly, there are myriad other beliefs associated with the opal all of which mean that this is a singular stone.



Price of opal gemstone varies widely from as little as Rs 400 per carat ($5 approx)  for the cat`s eye opal to Rs 4000 per carat ($56 approx) for white opal with fire from Australia. A fire opal cabochon can cost Rs 3500 per carat.


Ethiopian white opals with fire can cost Rs 1500 per carat, cheaper than the Australian fire opal. Double sided fire premium opals go for Rs 2000 per carat. On the other hand, the cheapest pink opal costs a mere Rs 250 per carat. As can be seen, there is an opal in each price category to suit your taste and budget. A trusted gemstone seller is your best source for genuine and certified opals.


Buying opals

Unscrupulous sellers may palm off stones of low quality at higher prices or even pass of synthetics or treated opals as the genuine stuff.


Australian Opal are Considered the finest quality and also expensive.


If you need a fire opal, then those from Mexico are the finest in this category and are priced accordingly.


Ethiopian opals are of a somewhat lower grade and hence cheaper but you will not know unless the gemstone dealer provides a certificate.


Fakes and genuine opals

Be careful when you buy opals and buy them only from a reliable gemstone dealer who provides a certificate. This is because you can easily be given a synthetic opal that is indistinguishable from the real one unless one takes a close look. The market is also full of doublet and treated opal stones. Some manufactured opals include glass and plastic. The doublet is an opal in which a thin opal of high quality is glues to a bottom layer of cheap layer. A reputed gemstone seller will always provide a Gemological laboratory certificate.



The purpose for which you buy is also an important consideration. If you are buying opals for ornamental use in jewelry and for fashion, then you can compromise on the type of opal as well as its size. If fashion and style are your goals then you will find Australian black fire opals or Mexican fire opals can be quite dazzling, especially if you plan to embed these in gold or silver to go along with ceremonial dresses. On the other hand, cheaper corals may be embedded in silver for everyday wear and confer simplistic elegance.


Given its various attributes, the opal is also prized as an occult gemstone in which case you must follow guidelines about choosing the type of opal and its weight and the way you get it set in a opal ring or in a pendant or in a bracelet.


Opal astrology

  • You may be attracted by the opal’s iridescence and wear it on occasion. However, according to Vedic astrology, wearing the gem everyday is beneficial.
  • The sign Taurus is governed by Venus or Shukra. Therefore, those with Taurus and Libra as their signs will benefit by wearing opal in a ring or in a bracelet. Especially those with weak Venus will gain benefits.
  • Opal is also considered a remedy for infertility, sexual disorders, gastric problems and bowel diseases so wearing an opal will remedy such conditions.
  • How to wear opal is a question people often ask. Opal is best set in silver or any white metal like platinum or white gold. It should be worn on the index finger on a Friday after appropriate pujas and mantra chanting by an experienced pundit.
  • If you choose an opal for astrological purpose make sure the stone is of the right size and weight and free of cracks or defects. White colored opals are recommended instead of darker ones.


Taking care of opals

As stated above hydrated silica is the chief constituent. Moisture content, on an average, is around 10% or more. Therefore, if you let it dry out by placing in the sun or in an air conditioned cold place, the stone dry out and it will lose all its charm. Immersing the stone in water from time to time improves its looks.