Sparkly and iridescent, opals catch the light with their ever-changing flecks of color. Inside the stone are tiny, light-reflecting silica spheres, giving opal its rainbow hue. While white opals are the most common, these gemstones are also naturally found in pink, blue, green, black, and purple. No two opals are ever the exact same, so each stone is unique!
This luminescent gem is the birthstone of October and symbolizes hope and purity. Read on to learn about the characteristics of opals, the benefits of wearing them, and how to clean your opal jewelry.
The Physical Properties & History of Opal
Opal is a form of the mineral silica, which is similar to crystals such as agate and quartz. While opals have a primary color — milky white, light pink, pale green, and more — they’re really known for the specks of rainbow hues within. This play of color gives these gemstones a shimmering depth, which makes them so desirable.
The name opal comes from the Greek word “opalus,” which means precious stone. Many cultures, including the Romans and ancient Greeks, believed opals had supernatural origins and powers. Ancient Greeks thought these stones would guard them against disease, while Europeans considered opals a symbol of purity and truth.
Origin as October’s Birthstone
In 1912, the National Retail Jeweler’s Association created the first official list of birthstones, naming opals and tourmalines as the official birthstones of October. But before this official designation, opal jewelry was gifted and worn by those with October birthdays, dating back to the 15th century.
What Are Opal's Metaphysical Properties?
Opal is heralded as an emotional balancer. It’s said to promote a state of calm, good fortune, luck, and love to those who wear it or place it in their home. The protective properties of opals mean they can also help absorb negative energies around you, and reflect them back to their source.
These colorful stones may also spark inspiration and creativity. Some say they help get your creative juices flowing, which is especially useful for artists, designers, and writers. Wearing opal jewelry may also make you feel confident and let go of unwanted behaviors, bringing out your true self.
The Benefits of Wearing this Vibrant Stone
These are just a few of the many benefits of wearing opal jewelry:
- Helps soothe your mind and create a state of calm
- Find inner peace, let go of the past, and overcome fears
- Boosts intuition and self-attention
- Opens your heart to love and brings happiness into your life
- Amplifies your positive thoughts and ideas
5 Fun Facts About Opals
- Opals are the only gemstone found in all colors of the rainbow. The colors of an opal vary depending on the thickness of its layers and the internal structure, which is why they are such unique and beautiful stones.
- They’re known for their opaque, milky appearance. An opal’s quality is distinguished by its luster, how shiny they appear, and transparency, how clear they are. Diamonds have exceptional clarity, giving them a sparkling vibrancy, while opals are opaque stones that have specks of fiery color.
- They’ve been found on Mars. While opals are usually found in the grounds of Australia, they’ve also been located in other places. Did you know that scientists discovered opal deposits on Mars in 2008?
- Opals are gifted on the 14th wedding anniversary. Opal rings and necklaces are popular gifts among sweethearts because they’re the traditional gift for 14th wedding anniversaries.
- It takes 5 to 6 million years for them to form. According to geologists, it takes between 5 and 6 million years for a 1 cm opal to form.
How to Care for Your Precious Opal Jewelry
Opals range between 6.5 and 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, which means they’re delicate gems. So, carefully handle and clean opal jewelry with care to prevent accidentally chipping the stone. Avoid touching the stone’s surface and always store your jewelry in a soft pouch.
While your opal jewelry won’t need frequent cleaning, you may occasionally want to buff the stone. We recommend using a soft microfiber cloth (or an old t-shirt) to gently rub the stone in small circular motions with light pressure. This will help remove dirt and debris that may accumulate on the stone’s surface over time.
To remove dust or clean the bezel setting: dip your cloth in warm water and mild dish soap, then rub the metal. Never submerge your opal jewelry in water or use a chemical cleaner, such as bleach, because it could damage your jewelry.
Add a Rainbow of Color to Your Jewelry Box
Whether you’re gifting opal jewelry to a friend or have fallen in love with the gemstone’s kaleidoscope of colors, discover this stunning stone in our October Birthstone Necklace. The centerpiece is set in a gold vermeil beaded border, so you can wear this long-lasting necklace for years to come.
If your birthday isn’t in October, read our guide to birthstones to discover your month’s special stone. Or, peruse our entire collection of birthstone necklaces to find a gift for a special someone (or yourself)!