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Opal History

The name opal was derived from the Sanskrit "Upala" and later the Greek derivative "Opallios," meaning to see a change of color. Opal is a gemstone that ranges from semi-transparent to opaque. Its body color covers a broad spectrum of colors, but is mostly prized for what is known as "play of color," the ability to reflect and refract light into flashes of multiple colors.

Historically, opal was considered a lucky charm that brought beauty, success and happiness to its wearer. Scandinavian women wore opals as hair ornaments to prevent their blonde locks from going gray. The Arabs thought that opal would ward off lighting and give a cloak of invisibility to its wearer when desired. It was supposed to grant vigor, aid the heart and kidneys and protect against fainting and infection.

Opals were also mined by eastern Europeans, the Aztecs of Central America, and ancient tribes in Central Africa. An opal was featured in the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor, and is still among the crown jewels of France. Napoleon gave Josephine an opal, and Queen Victoria was known to give them out as wedding presents. Opals are mentioned in the plays of Shakespeare and the novels of Sir Walter Scott.

Several opals are worthy of mention, including the 77-carat opal of Louis XVIII, kept in the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, and the 203-carat opal presented by the Australian government to Queen Elizabeth II of England in 1954.

In addition to its place as October's birthstone, opal is also a recommended gift for couples celebrating their 14th wedding anniversary.

 

 

 

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