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Don’t Fear the Opal

As the holiday gift-giving season kicks off, many are fearful of receiving opals. This fear is unsubstantiated. There is no rational reason to fear opals.

Opals were revered through ancient times. The colorful gemstone represented fidelity. The Ancient Greeks believed that the gem bestowed foresight and prophecy to their owners. Equally, it was the number one favorite gemstone in Ancient Roman times, equating to purity and hope. Further, the Ancient Arabs believed the stone came to earth via bolts of lightning and were, therefore, incredibly special. The stone brought good luck to those in possession during the Middle Ages. Today, the stone is lucky for businesses in China and Japan.

However, the opal is thought to bring bad luck. It is said that only those born in October should wear the gem. Opals were the birthstone for the month until 1912 when the listing was changed to favor transparent gemstones. But do not be dissuaded. One may offset the bad luck if one wears the opal with diamonds. Or if one was born during the 6 PM hour. One urban legend states to never gift an opal. Instead, one should exchange money for the pricey stone. Another legend claims that when the owner of the opal dies, the opal loses its shine. These false stories are rooted in fact.

In 1829, Sir Walter Scott published Anne of Geierstein; or the Maiden of the Mist. The character Lady Hermione wore enchanted opals. In her hair, the opals displayed her mood by changing her hair’s appearance. Lady Hermione met an unfortunate end when a drop of holy water fell onto her opal. The story was popular as readers associated death with the stone.

One person failed to believe the hype: Queen Victoria loved her opals. She helped reignite the opal market, which was displaced by the growing popularity of diamonds. Hence, the second source of the myth.

The diamond broker company De Beers, founded by Cecil Rhodes, began spreading lies about opals in order to sell more diamonds. Luckily, the Black Opal was discovered in the Australian opal mines, and the opal regained its place as an expensive, luxurious gemstone. It is also worth noting that Australia mines 95% of all opals. The Australian government gifted Queen Elizabeth II with the exquisite Andamooka Opal for her coronation. The monarchs jewelry collection boasts a lot of opals.

Today, opals appear in fantasy stories. They were called patronus furum in Latin, translating to “patron of thieves,” due to people believing that if they carried opals wrapped in fresh bay leaves, they would be invisible. Although modern magicians probably don’t believe this, they do use opals to assist in astral projection.

Consider purchasing and wearing opals. And if someone warns you to beware, merely educate them on their worth.