Opal is a form of silica that is amorphous and has a water content of three to twenty-one per cent depending on the sample. On average, the water content of opal is about six to ten percent. Opal is categorized as a mineraloid and can be found in a variety of environments and fissures of different rocks, from marl to rhyolite to basalt. It can also be found in the crevices of rocks like limonite and sandstone.
Australia claims opal as its national gem, and almost all of the commercial-grade opal in the world comes from the Australian subcontinent. 80% of all that mined opal in the subcontinent comes from its southern region.
What is Opal?
The name of this gemstone is derived from the Roman term “opalus”. However, the root of the naming is still debatable, but the name has stuck, and no one has an issue with it. Some people also say that the name has Greek origins (opallios). Opallios can be interpreted in several ways. It can mean opaque in English, or “seeing”. It can also mean “alias” or “alter” in some cases.
There is still some ambiguity in the naming of this gemstone.
Opal features a wide variability of interior colours, and despite being a mineraloid, it has an internal crystalline structure like proper minerals. When you look at the internal structure of opal, you will see layers of silica sphere of variable sizes, from one hundred nanometers to three hundred nanometers.
The colours of opal are produced when light interacts with the internal structure of the mineraloid, causing light interferences and in some situations, diffraction of the light passing through the minuscule layers of opal inside.
The uniformity and constancy of the internal structure of this mineraloid determine the overall quality and grading for the gem. When the planes or layers of silica are more consistent in size, there is more profound and more vibrant colour, because the light can pass through more quickly through the spaces between the silica globes. The colour and light observe through opal are determined by the physical structure inside, for the amount of light and type of lighting available while noting the gemstone.
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How is Opal Made?
The majority of the opal that we see in the market is opals that have been processed and cut into cabochons. There are two main classes of this gem on the market: solid opal and commercial grade opal.
There is a difference between the two. Solid opal is pure opal and is polished on its own and sold with the tag of mineraloid purity in tow. Commercial grade opal, on the other hand, maybe slivers or thin layers of opal that are too lightweight to be sold on their own.
Such samples of opal are often combined with other minerals or mineraloids and then sold as doublets. Doublets are usually made of a slim layer of opal then another mineral like ironstone, obsidian, potch, and the like. The second layer in the union tends to create a playful and exciting contrast between the two minerals, emphasizing the difference in colours. The goal is to make the doublet more appealing to the buyer, without minimizing the value of both minerals used in the construction.
When three layers are used in a single construction, we call that a triple. Like the doublet, the triplet is composed of an opal layer and two other layers.
This time, either plastic or clear quartz is used as the capping material (topmost layer) to sandwich the opal. Then there’s a darker material underneath to emphasize the clarity and qualities of the opal. If quartz is used, you will notice that it will be highly polished than usual.
This is done to emphasize the great colours underneath. The quartz layer also serves as protection for the opal, as opal is softer than other minerals and can be easily scratched or damaged. The applications of opal in different kinds of jewellery are often limited because it is sensitive to pressure and various cutting techniques.
Opal Meaning and Properties
Opal is the birthstone of October and is intimately linked with the following zodiac signs: Pisces, cancer, Libra, and Scorpio. It is a water gemstone and transmits at energy frequency number eight. It comes in a variety of colours from reds, purples, greens, beiges, whites, pinks and blacks.
Opal is a powerful gemstone no healing and is intimidated connected with unconditional love, loyalty to partners, and consciousness. It also helps people sustain their faithfulness in romantic relations, and in other situations where reliability is favoured and adds to the personal power of the wearer.
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Who Should Wear Opal?
Opal should be worn by people who want to take control of their emotions and may have emotional baggage that may no longer be helping them grow as people. This gemstone powers your feeling of freedom and allows you to practice your independence as an individual fearlessly. Some people feel that they can’t do it on their own, when in fact, the Universe assures everyone that you can do it, that you can manifest what you want in life through your power. Opal is also an excellent power stone for linking your earthly spiritual consciousness with the Source. This may result in psychic abilities and the ability to use prescience to your advantage. Mystical visions are not far off when you use opal to tap into your third eye’s power.
Are you struggling with anger and other unnecessary negative emotions? You can use opal to strengthen your resolve so you can finally release the rage and violence that is preventing you from healing and from pursuing the things that you want in life. Sometimes, the emotional baggage from anger is too much, and it blocks you from even creatively thinking of how to move from your past mistakes and heartaches. This is intimately linked with the ability of opal to sustain loyalty in a relationship, as resolve is needed to make something wrong despite its flaws.