Gem Feature – Opal

An opal bracelet.
by Arpingstone, [Public Domain], via WikiCommons

I’ve always thought that one of the most intriguing stones used in jewelry is opal. Whenever you look into the stone, it seems as if it’s not the same, thanks to the constantly shifting light.

Usually, we see it as a white stone with fiery green flecks, but it’s also found in a wide range of colors, including a rare black stone with red spots. Interestingly, it’s found on Mars. Since it’s partially made up of water, this demonstrates that there is water on Mars.

How It’s Formed
Because the stone doesn’t have a very good crystalline makeup, it’s not considered a true mineral, but rather a mineraloid. Instead of a typical composition, spheres of silica are packed closely together, which light reflects off of. They’re what cause the treasured appearance.

It’s deposited and formed at a lower temperature than most other stones, and found in stones like sandstone, basalt or rhyolite. However it has been found by all sorts of other rocks.

There are a few different types of opal. Precious opal is what’s used in jewelry, while common opal is known as “Potch” by miners who find it. There are also clear and fire opals which, while still lovely, they lack the reflective properties precious has.

History
Opal’s unique appearance ensured it an important place in many religions across the world. When Zeus’s tears fell to the earth in ancient Greek mythology, they turned to opal. There’s also an old Indian myth where the Goddess of Rainbows turned herself into a piece of opal to escape from the unwanted attentions of various gods.

It had value beyond religion, as well. Romans prized it as one of the most valuable stones for jewelry, and there’s evidence of mining in the United States region up to 10,000 years in the past. In the Middle Ages, it was thought to help with eye sight and protect the color of blond hair.

Metaphysics
This beautiful stone is still prized in the world of metaphysics. It’s said to prompt imagination and creativity, while amplifying buried feelings as well as ease the stress of big changes. If you want sweet dreams, keep opal by your bedside.

Despite its magnifying properties, it’s also said that it can render the wearer invisible in situations. It’s not that it makes them literally invisible, but less likely to be noticed.

Every time you put on an opal, you’ll be wearing the result of a fascinating scientific process and taking part in a long, unique history.

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