What is an Opal?

Opals are made of microscopic spheres of silica and typically contain 3 to 10% water. If those spheres have uniform sizes and shapes, the opals will display the famous play of colors that makes these stones unique. These are called “precious opals.” However, only 5% of all opals meet this criteria. The rest are called “common opals.” While they may occur in many beautiful colors, common opals are less popular as jewelry stones.

Australia produces 96% of the world’s opals from sites such as Lightning Ridge, Coober Pedy, and Queensland. Other notable sources include Brazil, Ethiopia, Mexico, and the United States.

Precious opals have multi-colored flashes that move across their surface as well as vibrant body colors. Some even show colorful patterns that have received descriptive names like harlequin, fern leaf, peacock, and rolling fire. These opals just have an ethereal, otherworldly appearance. In the mythologies of many different cultures, opals come from the heavens.

Are Opals Unlucky?

Although the traditional October birthstone is available in jewelry stores everywhere, opal has a reputation for bad luck. This may be a modern twist on opal folklore. An early 19th century novel by Sir Walter Scott may…