The Opal is Octobers traditional birthstone and also considered to be the Zodiac star sign Libra's birthstone symbolising love, hope and purity and sometimes associated with the sign of Scorpio too.
Opals are mostly found in Australia, which produces 97% of the world's supply and has the gemstone as their national stone, but deposits can also be found in Mexico and South America too.
Opal is a very unique gemstone, most commonly found in 'white' and are famous for their play of colours and flashing hues of the rainbow. The iridescent effect is due to the interference of light from the presence of thousands of tiny little scales. I don't use Opals very often in my own designs but I wish I could. I find them extremely beautiful and at times mesmerising; a truly exciting and mysterious gemstone.
The 'bad luck' myth is the result of centuries of misinformation, superstition, wives' tales, and jealous diamond traders spreading rumours which as a result dramatically reduced the value of opals in the 1800's. This myth is said to have started by Sir Walter Scott when he published his novel "Anne of Geierstein" in which he used an opal to reflect the changing fortunes of the herion and amazingly this myth started by book critics so long ago still exists today.
Care tip - Opals are known as a soft stone, so wear with care and although it is true that chemicals can harm them it is a total myth that if you place you opal jewellery in a damp environment whilst you aren't wearing the pieces the stones won't crack - Australian Opals are actually non-pourous and can't soak up any water, oil or anything other substance, unlike doublet and triplet opals that are non solid and water will damage these stones.
The Andamooka Opal
Queen Elizabeth was presented with the magnificent gift on March 23rd in 1954 on the occasion of her first visit to South Australia. This was an opal weighing 203 carats found at the Andamooka Opal Fields, west of Oodnadatta in 1949. It is said to be the finest-quality opal ever found in the Andamooka Fields, partly because of its extraordinary size, but also because of the intensity of the fire and the flashes of colour in the stone. The opal was then set in a palladium and diamond scrollwork necklace - doesn't she look absolutely stunning in the set!