Opals are known for their striking rainbow luminescence; a flash of brilliance passes across the stone with even the slightest movement of light. The first Opal was discovered in Quipe, Western Australia, in around 1870. Australia continues to be the main producers of Opal, and Boulder Opals are found in Queensland, Australia. Boulder opals are easily distinguished by their layer of solid brown ironstone left on the back of the stone. The ever-changing colours of the stone inspired the name ‘Opal’. The term originates from the Sanskrit ‘upala’ meaning ‘precious stone’ and the Greek derivative ‘Opallios’ meaning ‘to see a change of colour’. Nowadays, Precious Opals are describe the ones that change colour and Common Opals describe the ones that do not have this quality.
They are also closely associated with superstitions. In Ancient Rome, Opals were considered to be a token of hope; a good luck charm. Ancient Greeks believed they came from the heavens and were therefore used in divination and prophecy. In the Middle Ages, Opals were thought to bring good luck thanks to the multi-coloured light they produce, representing the virtues of many gemstones. Although initially thought to possess positive magical qualities, the stone soon came to be associated with famine at the time of the Black Plague when it was thought that an Opal’s colours were most intense just before its owner was destined to die. The bad reputation of Opals was solidified in 1829 when Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Anne of Geierstein, was published. One scene in particular caused a stir for the innocent Opal: a drop of holy water tarnishes the Baroness of Arnheim’s Opal talisman which consequently loses its colours and the Baroness dies just a moment later. The book had a direct effect on Opal sales and has caused people to associate Opals with death ever since.
However, this association couldn’t be further from the truth. Boulder Opals carry warm Earth energies and the illuminating energy of fire. Rather than being a cause of death, they inspire perseverance when you face difficulties. The Boulder Opal is the official birthstone of October and possesses an energy that can benefit all chakras, however, it is particularly powerful in relation to the root and crown chakras. Opals open the consciousness to the higher vibrations emanating from your soul, allowing you to see the bigger picture. This is a stone of love, hope, luck and happiness.