Did you know: In the Middle Ages, opal was considered a stone that could provide great luck because it was believed to possess all the virtues of each gemstone whose color was represented in the color spectrum of the opal
Opals are a very soft stone, and must be treated with care. Because of the softness, almost all opals are cut into a cabochon. A cabochon looks domed or like a half sphere. This arched shape makes the gem less susceptible to damage during wear. The cabochon shape also allows light to "dance" across the gem- increasing an opal's brilliance.
Opals are valued for their fire and brilliance. High quality opals will display a variety of rainbows and bold colors.
Typically, opals are mined in Australia. However, in 1994, opals were discovered in Ethiopia. These Ethiopian ovals are more brilliant than their Australian counterparts, and thus command a higher price.
Opals can be found in three states:
- Solid Opal. This opal consists entirely of opal.
- Boulder Opal. Boulder opals are rocks with large opal veins.
- Matrix Opal. Matrix opals are mixed almost evenly with the parent rock.
Opal is the birthstone for people born in October, along with Pink Tourmaline.