Opal – The Facts and Story Behind

There is more than meets the eye for the gemstone Opal. We have got some amusing facts and legends behind opal that would make you admire the beauty and fascination of this gemstone.


The Greek for opal is Opallios meaning ‘change in colour’ and the Roman is Opalus meaning ‘precious stone.’

It is also known as ‘Queen of Gemstones’ after a Roman Scholar praised the beauty of stone and called it a kaleidoscope of other gemstones for its rainbow colours.


The American National Association of Jewellers accepted Opal as October birthstone in 1912.

It is the 14th marriage anniversary gift.


The origin and first use of opal are not known, but artefacts in opal were found dated 4000 BC.

Myths and Beliefs

Greeks considered opals to give the power of prophecy. They believed opals to be formed by tears of Zeus shed in joy on defeating Titans.

Ancient Arab believed opals to fall from heaven on lightening.

Australian aboriginals believed opal to be sent by God for peace and harmony when rainbows meet the Earth.

Opal was believed to bring bad luck. In the novel, Anne of Geierstein by Sir Walter Scott, written in 1829, a character named Baroness wore a jewel of opal, which lost its sheen and colour after holy water fell on it and eventually Baroness died.

Craftsmen and cutters denied working with this stone as it is fragile and did not wish to bear the cost of gemstone lost in cutting or shaping.

These led to the belief that opal brings bad luck until Queen Victoria popularised her love for this magnificent gemstone.


Australia is the major resource of opal in the world. In South Australia, white opals are mined in abundance in the region of Coober Pedy.

Other countries, Mexico, Ethiopia, and Brazil also mine opal.

It is the national gemstone of Australia.


The formation of opal is yet not confirmed. It is considered that rainwater when reaches the crevices in rock dries out and the silica left hardens to form opal.

It is considered to take millions of years to form opal.

Opals were found on Mars in 2015.

Royals and Celebs

Opal was Queen Victoria’s favourite gemstone.

Empress Josephine received an opal ring from Napoleon Bonaparte which is popularly known as ‘Empress Josephine’s Burning of Troy.’

The Australian 203 carats oval-shaped opal, Andamooka Opal is one of the most famous opals. It was gifted with a necklace to Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 on her first visit to the country.

Cate Blanchett wore Chopard’s famous opal drop earrings consisting of 62 white opals to Oscars 2014.

Explore the mystical world of opal and make this Queen of Gemstones yours with jewellery designs as stunning as the beauty of the stone. Reserve a designing session with Sparkling Stones for your bespoke opal jewellery.

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