(Last Updated on : 28/12/2012)
Opal is a precious gemstone and is often regarded as the symbol of happiness, hope, and genuineness. The name of opal evolved from 'Opalus', which is a Roman word literally meaning 'to see a change of colour'. As per other popular theories, the name of opal was derived from the term 'Upala', which is a Sanskrit word and it means a stone. Opal has hundred of diverse varieties as well as trade names. However, the list comprising the names of the more accepted ones and the regularly used ones is a bit shorter. Precious opal is the most widely used one and these are basically translucent to transparent. Precious opals are notable with a mixture of pearly to milky opalescence and with a striking play of various colours. These vibrant colours flash and change when the stone is viewed from diverse directions and is caused by the interference of light along minute cracks and other internal homogeneities. The precious opal is broadly used as a gemstone.
Types of Opal
A variety of forms of widespread Opal are extensively mined for use as insulation media, abrasives, and ceramic ingredients. Colour modifiers like black, pinks, white, and blue, further sub-divide this gemstone by describing the body colour. Fire Opal that is the reddish-yellow, orange, bright red or brownish-red body coloured type of Opal is considered as the second most significant opal commercially. There are some varieties of Opal that needs special mention like black opal. Black Opal is present with a very dark grey or blue to black body colour. This is particularly rare and highly prized. White Opal has light body colours whereas fire opal is characterized by yellow, orange, or red body colour. White and Fire opals are much more common than black opal. Moreover, synthetic opal is also available widely and commercially. But the quality of the synthetic is not at par with natural Opal. It is rather low in thickness and mass and very permeable.
Basic Features of Opal
This precious stone is basically colourless, but it is rare to found. Some dispersed impurities usually give the opal some really tedious body colours that vary from yellows and reds. Further, the various white and grey coloured Opals can be attributed to large quantity of minute gas-filled hollow space in them. The precious Opal depicts light with a magnificent play of some wonderful colours across the visible range, red being the most valued. Moreover, crystal opal has got a colourless backdrop and displays excellent play of colour, but, not like black or white Opal, it lets the light pass through it. It is said that Opal along with tourmaline is known as the birthstones of Libra
. Interestingly, Opal is said to be the anniversary gemstone for the 14th and 18th years of marriage anniversary. Opal is fragile, heat sensitive, and breaks and scratches easily. But still with all these drawbacks, Opal's unmatched beauty assures its status as a leading and popular gemstone.
Since the ancient Roman times precious opal has been a very popular gemstone. This gemstone was included among all the other noble gems and interestingly it was given the second position after emeralds by the Romans. The most outstanding quality of opals is its capability to reflect definite wavelengths of light. The interaction of diverse wavelengths of light is the cause that actually gives this gemstone its exclusive visual appeal, making it one of the most attractive and sought-after gemstones. 'Orphanus', a very precious and attractive Opal, was set in the crown of Holy Roman Emperor. Moreover, Opals are also set as France's crown jewels. Most opal usually dates back to Cretaceous period over 60 million years old.
Healing Abilities Opal
Opals are also known to have several healing properties. In the medieval times, Opals were used to cure eye diseases. There is some healing ability, which varies according to the different types of Opals.
Fire Opals are basically used for diminishing Red corpuscle and other blood disorders, depression, apathy, and lethargy.
The Black Opal helps in the revival of reproductive organs, spleen and pancreas; further it also filters red corpuscles and aids the white corpuscles. Black Opal is considered as one of the extremely lucky stones. In antique times this precious gemstone was accepted as a sign of confidence and faithfulness. Also it has some well known curative properties, like it can increase mental capabilities. Traditions also state that black opals if worn near the heart on necklaces can protect from evil eye. It is also said to protect the travellers in distant lands.
The use of white opals usually balances left and right brain hemispheres for neuro- disorders and it also stimulates white corpuscles.
Maintenance of Opal
Opal demands proper care and attention. Like for instance, opals expand if exposed to sun. Further, loss of water leads to loss of iridescence and thus this precious gemstone
should be oiled regularly for retaining the water inside. They should be protected from detergents that can dry the gem. Moreover, the opals can be quite breakable as they contain water. Fire opals generally are surface cut, but others are finished in cabochon because their optical properties are best displayed on smoothly rounded surfaces. Many Opals are protected by water because they might get a crack or lose its colour after it dries up.
Opal is a mystifying gem, as each one appears different and has delicate beauty. It has always been one of the most popular gems of all times. It passes massive amounts of energy. Various opal imitations and also synthetic opals are available in the market nowadays. So, it is very necessary that one should have a professional consultation before purchasing.