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“Now the melancholy God protect thee, and the tailor make thy garments of changeable taffeta, for thy mind is opal.”
~ Twelfth Night, or What You Will, William Shakespeare, 1601-2
The changing colors of the opal make it one of the most striking of gems. The opal has been associated with royalty and good luck for centuries. Its name comes from the Sanskrit upala, meaning "precious stone," and later the Greek derivative "Opallios," meaning "to see a change of color." It was also known as the "Eye Stone" and was cherished for brilliance, color play, and bright flashes! In the 19th century, however, the opal suffered a blow to its reputation when Sir Walter Scott's 1829 novel "Anne of Geierstein" was published! In this story, the beguiling Lady Hermione wears a dazzling opal in her hair as her signature ornament. The beautiful iridescent stone reflects her mood and sparkles spectacularly when she is in fine humor, but flares red when she is not! However, later in the story, when her opal is touched by holy water, it discolors, causing great consternation and fear! Lady Hermione is accused of being a demon and does not survive the accusation. This bit of fiction, together with other market forces, so influenced the reading public that the opal market actually crashed with prices dropping by 50 percent! It was not until the discovery of an amazing black opal found in Lightning Ridge Australia in 1877, that the stone's reputation became once again commensurate with its beauty! Opals are often given to celebrate the 14th year of marriage and symbolize amplification, hope, purity, and mystical play. This tartan reflects the beauty of pure color sapphires, rubies, and topaz, hues found in the beautiful opal, Queen of Gems, who encompassed the colors of all other gems. as in the striking harlequin opal shown below. Happy October Birthdays! 💎 💍
Gemstones have played various roles in the myths and legends of human cultures throughout history. Some tell a story or are believed to have special powers, but all of them share a common beauty and appear in every colour of the rainbow.
In ancient times, the opal was known as the Queen of Gems because it encompassed the colors of all other gems.
Many considered opal to be beneficial to the eye and wore it to cure eye diseases. Some even believed it could render the carrier invisible. Supposedly, carrying an opal wrapped in a fresh bay leaf would keep others from seeing you. This superstition earned opal the popular designation of patronus furum, Latin for “patron of thieves.”
Australia’s Lightning Ridge is known for its rare and stunning black Opals. The ideal black opal is one that displays broad patterns covering the surface, with all the colors of the rainbow, including red.
The name opal is thought to be derived from the Sanskrit upala, meaning “precious stone,” and later the Greek derivative “Opallios,” meaning “to see a change of color.”
In modern times, however, opals obtained a reputation for a stone of bad luck. Interestingly, the origin of this unfortunate reputation and myth is attributed to Sir Walter Scott! His bestselling novel, Anne of Geuerstein, written in 1829, tells the story of Lady Hermione, who is falsely accused of being a demoness, and dies shortly after a drop of holy water accidentally falls on her opal and destroys its color.
The reading public carelessly took this to mean that the popular and revered author was warning of the bad luck an opal can bring. Within months of the novel being published, the opal market crashed and prices plummeted down 50%. Although undeservedly, Sir Walter Scott is often credited with destroying the European opal market for almost 50 years.
In 1912, tourmaline was added as an alternative birthstone to opal as October's birthstone.
For thirteen other mysterious and possibly cursed gemstones, click the black opal!