Perhaps you’ve heard the old superstition; maybe your grandma whispered it to you while you played in her jewelry box, or, more likely, maybe you encountered an old woman in a cemetery who shouted it at you before she disappeared into a mysterious cloud of vapor:
“Don’t wear an opal unless it’s your birthstone!”
Well there’s one man to blame for this: thanks a lot, Sir Walter Scott. Seriously– SWS wrote a novel in 1829 called Anne of Geierstein (or The Maiden in the Mist, if you’re pretentious) and one of the characters wore a prominent opal that changed color with her mood. Then some dude accidentally sprinkled holy water on it (typical) and it lost its luster. So… she died. Logic leads the reasonable mind to assume the stone killed her. And let me tell you, if anything besides cholera was pervasive in 1829, it was logic. So the poor opal– beloved, lovely and thought to be lucky for literally millenia prior– became lapide non grata. Opal sales dropped by 50% after the book’s publication and now, almost two centuries later, the superstition still echoes.
But time passes. Old women whisper less about allegedly cursed stones. And now the opal is enjoying a rightful renaissance.
Frankly, it’s the kind of stone that deserves a renaissance: the kind of stone that the Bedouins thought fell from the sky containing captured lightning. The kind of stone that’s compared to fireworks and galaxies. The kind of stone that deserves to be worn by everyone, not just October babies.
Primarily mined in Australia (but found in other places globally, like Ethiopia), opals contain spectral color: ghostly whispers of rainbows floating within. And while most precious opals demonstrate color flashes called “play of color,” each type of opal does so in a wholly unique palette. Jelly (also called crystal or water) opals are clearish yellow stones that appear to be embedded with vibrant pieces of iridescent glitter. Black opals are mysteriously dark and reflect a rainbow starscape. White, or light opals are lively and bright with a pastel-hued burst of color. Fire opals are vivid orangey-red and pop with sparks. Boulder opals generally come embedded in the matrix of the rock from which they were mined, creating a “nature cracked open” kind of vibe.
So here’s to the fabulous opal in all it’s kaleidoscopic glory! Let us wrest it from the hands of superstition and wear it proudly, each of us carrying our own private rainbow.