Thursday, 13 October 2016

Birthstone of October: Opal

The name opal originates from the Greek word 'opallios', which meant 'to see a change in colour'.

There are lots of myths and legends surrounding the majestic Opal - The Aboriginal Australians thought that the creator of the stones came to Earth on a rainbow, leaving colourful opals where his feet touched the ground, meanwhile according to Arabic legend, opals fell from the sky in bolts of lighting.

In the Middle Ages, people believed that the opal possessed the powers of each gem that reflected in the stone, making it a powerful and lucky gem to have in ones possession. However, in 1829 with the publication of 'Anne of Geierstein' by Sir Walter Scott, the stones reputation for good luck turned to bad. The story featured and enchanted woman who wore an opal that changed colours with her moods, and resulted in the woman dying when the stone was destroyed. With that the reputation of the opal became that of bad luck (at least to all those not born in October) and within a year of the books publication, opal sales had fallen by 50% in Europe. In the modern day the opal has since shed it's negative association and is once again a very popular gem. 

The opals country of origin is Australia and is made by rain carrying silica deposits underground into cracks between layers of rocks. The water then evaporates and an opal forms in the deposits. It has also been known for silica to seep into spaces in nature such as seashells, wood and even skeletons, creating opalized fossils.

The opal is one of the most popular stones used in jewellery today, and is not only colourful in form but also in its history.

With Octobers birthstone in mind, we took a look around Alfies for some opal jewellery.

18ct gold, diamond and opal necklace. Offered by Kieron Reilly

Art Deco opal, diamond and sapphire ring set in platinum. Offered by Kieron Reilly

Early Edwardian silver and opal necklace. Offered by Good Time Antiques

18ct gold, opal and diamond daisy ring, c1920s. Offered by Naneen Brooks

Gold and opal necklace, c 1950s. Offered by Good Time Antiques

Victorian opal ring with old cut diamonds. Offered by Kieron Reilly

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