Beautiful and breathtaking, opals are such precious stones that exhibit flashes of the colors of the rainbow. The name 'opal' has evolved from the Greek word 'Opallus' meaning a change in color. Later on, the Latin word 'Opalus' meant a precious stone. The ancient Greeks had a theory about these stones; it was thought that these had fallen from heaven during flashes of lightning, they were considered a byproduct of Zeus. The Romans believed that wearing these precious stones would help them to have clarity of thought. These stones, with their tiny crystalline spheres, have dazzled people since ancient times. Their play of color and their brilliance is what has attracted people towards buying and wearing the jewelry.
Opals are probably one of the few stones that have a rich folklore behind them. The colors are created by the arrangement of silica spheres within the stone. Common opals do not have flashes of color. Some of the colors that are widely seen in these precious stones are light or dark body colors that may be either translucent, transparent, or milky white, light green, and pink. The black ones are the most expensive.
It is the volcanic ash that gives the black opal its color. This is entirely due to the tiny spheres. Their body color can range from dark gray to black, these have fiery flashes of color as well. The hardness ranges from 5.5 to 6.5 (on the Mohs scale). Australia is known to be the largest and the leading source, as far as opals are concerned. Some other sources are the United States, Africa, and Brazil.
- To avoid damaging your jewelry, you need to take it off when you are doing household work or chores. For example, avoid wearing it when you are gardening or on a trip to the beach. This will definitely help to keep all the grime away and avoid scratches. Opal is almost like glass, but there are a few differences. The glass-like structure makes it vulnerable, and so they can easily chip or scratch. Therefore, take care of it like it's made of glass.
- Extreme heat and cold may cause damage. This can generally happen when there are sudden and extreme changes of temperature. Everyday changes in temperature may not really affect the stone; you must look out for any extreme change when you are traveling out of town.
- This jewelry can definitely be affected by makeup. In such cases, always remove it to avoid any smudges on your precious stones. Makeup can act as an abrasive material; this is because the fine particles are like microscopic pieces of sandpaper. They rub against the surface and cause damage by reducing the shine of the stone. This may not be visible immediately, but you will see the dullness overtime. Avoid using hairspray or perfumes when you are wearing opals. When it comes to storing, avoid mixing these stones with other jewelry. Store them carefully in separate cases.