Opal is one of the most spectacular of all precious stones. Many gems can come in different colours, even diamonds can form in a variety of hues. Opal, however, seems to possess most of the colours in one stone!
The name ‘opal’ means ‘precious stone’, taken from the Latin ‘opalus’. It glimmers with many different colours, which means that it has different wavelengths of light refraction. It is a truly fascinating stone that can steal a gaze from admirers of opal jewellery. But what do we know of this stunning gem stone? Where did it come from?
Opal’s prehistoric origins
Opal is a silica, not dissimilar to quartz. This means that it was formed from water sediments that are deposited in rock fissures. These deposits solidify over millions of years, which hardens, becoming a mineraloid form. The result is an opaque crystalline shape that becomes a stunning stone for opal jewellery when cut and polished.
Many of the opals found today are believed to have begun their ‘life’ up to 50 million years ago. Earth was in its Cretaceous period, and dinosaurs ruled the planet. In fact, fossils of dinosaur bones, eggs and the remains of other Cretaceous animals have been discovered preserved in opal. The opal that preserves these remains is a non-valuable form of the gemstone, called ‘potch’, which has a dull amber or grey/black colour.
Opals on Earth and beyond
The primary source of opal is in Australia. In fact, 97% of the world’s opal comes from various regions of the country. Most of this is mined in South Australia, at the town of Coober Perdy, where the world’s largest opal was found. It was mined in 1956, and measures a staggering 11 inches in length. This gem was named the ‘Olympic Australis’, which weighs in at 17,000 carats, and is valued at over £1.5 million.
Other parts of the world have also yielded opal deposits, including the US, Slovakia, Turkey, Hungary, Indonesia and Nepal. Perhaps the most remarkable discovery are the opals on Mars. Scientists found these incredible alien gems in 2008. This opened up a whole new discussion about life on the red planet. These opal deposits meant that water could have been on Mars for billions of years more than previously thought, extending the window on the possibilities that the planet could support more complex life forms.
The next time you wear your opal jewellery, cast a thought to where it came from, and its birth before humans walked the Earth…
Parriss Jewellers has an outstanding line of pieces including beautiful opal jewellery.
- Turning Carats into Cash: Jewelry at Auction The jewelry world is full of valuable and elegant specimens,...
- Choosing Between Commercial Retail Engagement Rings And Custom Design Engagement Rings Choosing between commercial retail engagement rings and custom design engagement...
- Win Back Your Girlfriend With Charm Your girlfriend left you. Whether this was a case of...
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.
Leave Your Comments »