2/23/2018

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Opal

Question: What is an opal?

Answer: An opal is a mineral gemstone made of hydrated siliceous gel that has a glassy to dull luster with an assortment of colors that seem to change depending on the angle in which it is viewed.

Opal are found in beautiful colors from white to red to deep black and are transparent to opaque in transparency.

There are three main subgroups designated for opal:

  1. Precious Opal: Includes black, which are rare and highly prized, white, boulder, harlequin, jelly and crystal.
  2. Fire Opal: Named for it's brilliant orange to reddish color.
  3. Common Opal: Agate, angel skin, wood, honey, hyalite, moss, porcelain, wax, hydroplane, prase, and girasol.

The name opal is thought to come from the ancient Sankrit (Indian) language for "upala" meaning "precious stone."

Used as a precious gemstone for centuries, opal was at one time considered to represent danger or misfortune for the person wearing it. But today, as the birthstone for the month of October, it represents a strong sense of assurance, hope, and well being.

Opal is a popular gemstone for rings, bracelets, brooches, and other pieces of fine jewelry.

Special care must be taken when setting opal stones because it is splintery and brittle due mainly to a high content of water which ranges from 3 to 30 percent.

Care must also be taken when storing opal gemstones because they are sensitive to acids and heat.

Most opal gemstones come from Australia. Other countries that lead in opal production include the Chech Republic, the United States, Mexico, Great Britain, and Brazil.

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