The ability of opal to contain and reflect all the colours of the rainbow in a single stone remains somewhat of a mystery, which is why so many myths have arisen about this precious gemstone over the centuries dating back as far as ancient Egyptians.
Although there are some myths claiming that opal brings bad luck, quality opals have been sought and coveted by the ruling classes and the wealthy from countries spanning all continents of the world. This unique gemstone is popular in some cultures for the good fortune thought to be brought about by the myriad of colours at constant play within the stone, but for some reason until recently despite being a national icon proclaimed as Australia’s national gemstone in 1993, opal did not gain the same popularity in Australia.
However, recently with a more creative approach to incorporating opal into stunning jewellery creations, opal has enjoyed a world-wide revival creating a renewed demand both in Australia and overseas. But, with the elusive nature of this gemstone across the Andamooka precious stones field, local miners struggle to meet this recent demand for high grade opal, but they work on knowing that if they strike a find they will be rewarded with a high price and a definite sale.
Composition and origin
Opal is essentially composed of a non-crystalline form of silica mixed with trace elements of other minerals depending on which ground it evolves from. Containing water, the most critical factor in the formation of opal was water. The opal would have begun forming as early as the Jurassic Period but the critical formation period was during the Cretaceous period when together with the Tertiary Period was a time of great geological and geographic upheaval and of inland seas and ever-changing waterways.