Color – Black, White, Gray, Yellow, Red, Orange and Colorless
Mohs hardness scale – 5 – 6.5
Source – Found mainly in Australia, Brazil, Mali, Japan, Russia, USA, Mexico
Opal is a very popular gemstone, mainly due to its wonderful variety of rich and beautiful colors. One of the extraordinary features of this gemstone is called opalescence. Opalescence is a kind of light play that happens with certain high-quality stones. Light reflects and bounces around the very small structures of the stone, giving it a wonderful aura and sometimes iridescence.
The name Opal is derived from three sources: Sanskrit ‘Upala’, Latin ‘Opalus’, and Greek ‘Opallios’. All three of these words mean the same thing – precious stone. The group of fine opals includes quite a number of wonderful gemstones. These gemstones are differentiated on the basis of the variety, place of occurrence, and color of the main body, into dark or black opal, white or light opal, milk or crystal opal, boulder opal, opal matrix, Mexican and fire opal.
Opals come in many colors, including black, white, gray, yellow, colorless, orange and red. Red is considered the most popular and attractive color that Opal comes in. There are usually two types of red colors – cherry red and fire red. Fire red is usually the most popular and possibly the most expensive due to its wonderful hue.
Australia is the major supplier of fine opals and almost 95 per cent of all opals come from Australian mines. Opal is made from sand and water. It has the same chemical formula as quartz with the addition of 3-10 % water content. Due to this reason, opals must be protected from harsh light and heat, which could dry it out and cause cracks. Opal is relatively less hard than many other stones and must be worn with caution and care taken to avoid chips or other breakage. Opals come in many attractive colors, shapes and sizes and are used on many types of ornamental jewelry including rings, earrings, brooches, charms, bracelets, etc.