We are thrilled to kick off this ROCKTOBER with our first Gem of the Week being Opal! Being primarily known as one of October’s birthstones, Opals are usually largely recognized for the vivid “play of color” they show. At W&H, we often look for opals that show “brush strokes” of reds, greens, blues, and even oranges throughout the stone. Each one is so vastly different from the next and that’s why we love them!
Okay, let’s get a little nerdy. Opals are an amorphous variety of silica and are usually found in Ethiopia, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, and the United States. These wildly colorful stones are quite porous, so they will absorb oils and chemicals. It’s a good rule of thumb to take off any opals (especially rings) when you are exposing them to chemicals, including sunscreens. Also, you should always avoid wearing them while doing anything that is highly abrasive.
The name “opal” originates from the Sanskrit word for stone. Opals are said to amplify the wearers inner fire and intuition, while increasing leadership skills, mental clarity, courage, and creativity. So if you are starting a new leadership role in your career or embarking on any big life changes, this would be an ideal stone for you!
Just like us, opals need to remain hydrated. Opals contain anywhere from 3% to 21% water and will shatter or break if they get too dried out! Especially in Colorado, where our climate is so dry, your opals would be happy to receive a little soak from time to time. When storing opals, they should remain in an environment that has a low level of humidity to ensure they maintain their necessary moisture level. Fun fact: Next time you see an opal in a museum, look around the case and you will often notice a dish of water keeping it moist!
One more very important thing to know about opals is that they should never be worn when going from one extreme temperature to another. Say for instance, you were to go from lounging next to that lovely, hot fire inside your winter cabin then outside to watch the snowflakes in negative temperatures… Opals have been known to literally explode from that dramatic temperature change, since the moisture in the stone would go from hot to below freezing. Even if you are lucky and your stone doesn’t explode, it will probably incur a result in what is termed “crazing”, where hairline fractures run throughout the entire stone and affect its overall beauty and durability. No bueno.
All that being said, Opals are a wonderful and mysterious product of nature that we love to admire and “ooo and ahh” at! Each is so unique, there is sure to be a perfect one for each of us out there! Stop by W&H and see the beauties we have in store this month!