Opal, Green (Gem-Quality)
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Mineralogy of Green Opal
Mineral Family: Silicate
Chemical Composition: SiO2 nH2O
Crystal System: Amorphous
Luminescence: Green (long and short wave)
Transparency: Translucent to opaque
Location: Opals are found in many locations around the world, however 90% of all Opals on the market are Australian in origin. Other deposits are located in Brazil, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Russia, and the United States (Idaho and Nevada).
Mineral Family: Green Opal is a type of Common Opal and a Silicate mineral. Silicate minerals form the largest family of minerals, including more than 25% of all known minerals and 40% of all common minerals. In addition to being a major part of the Earth’s crust, Silicate minerals have also been found on the moon and in meteorites. Silicates are minerals which contain the elements Silicon (a light gray shiny metal) and Oxygen (a colorless gas). Together, these two elements form a tetrahedron – a shape similar to a pyramid – with a Silicon atom in the center and Oxygen atoms at each of the four corners. These tetrahedra connect with other chemical structures, in six different ways, to form various minerals and rocks. There are six main groups of Silicate minerals, and these main groups are further subdivided into secondary subdivisions, such as Quartz and Feldspars. Opal comes in two main varieties, precious and common. Precious Opals have a fiery play of colors sparking across their surface. Common Opals, by contrast, lack this fire and have an opaque, flat color.
Formation: Common Opals are fairly widespread and can be found in most types of rocks, wherever silica-bearing waters are found. Opals are especially abundant near hot-springs and Opal often is part of the fossilization process for Petrified Wood as well as fossilized seashells and bones. Precious Opals, by contrast, are much more rare and can only be found enclosed within a rock, where over time the water is slowly removed from the silica gel, a process which can take thousands of years. The silica left behind settles down and, if it settles in the correct formation, it results in the iridescent color which plays across the gem’s surface.
Mining: Most Precious Opals are found in thin layers embedded in sandstone and are the primary focus for many mines. Some of the mines are small affairs, while others are huge operations that create vast tunnel systems through the sandstone. Precious Opals are found using UV lights. Common Opals, by contrast, are secondary stones found in a wide variety of mines and mining conditions.
Enhancements: Lab created Precious Opals are available in the fine gemstone market. Common Opals, by contrast, are almost certain to be fully natural, regardless of the shade of color, enhanced only by tumbling, cutting, and polishing.
History of Opal
Opal is included in virtually every known lapidary, texts which describe gemstones and their powers. Most of the legends associated with Opals refer specifically to the Precious Opals that contain a flashing “fire” of color inside them. Tumbled Opals, by contrast, are known as Common Opals, and have a flat color. The name Opal most likely derives from the the Sanskrit upala, meaning “precious stone.” It has also been suggested that the name may also come from Ops, a Roman Earth Goddess associated with fertility and the harvest.
At one time, Opals commanded a higher price than any other gemstone, far higher than Diamonds or Rubies. Pliny the Elder (CE 23-79), a Roman author, naturalist, and philosopher described Opal in his lapidary, The Natural History of Precious Gemstones. He related that a generation before him, there had been an enormous Opal, as big as a hazelnut, which was worth more than a villa. It was owned by a Roman Senator named Nonius. Marc Antony, the most powerful man in the Roman world at that time, demanded that the Senator give the gemstone to him. Nonius refused and fled, leaving all his worldly possessions behind, taking only the Opal.
There are numerous myths associated with Opal, many of which are gruesome. According to one legend, Opal was created when the Storm God grew angry and jealous at the Rainbow God. The Storm God shattered the Rainbow God with his lightning, and cast his body down to the earth in a million little pieces. When the pieces landed, they petrified and turned into Precious Opals, which still sparkle with a rainbow of colors. In another story, Opals were formed by the Norse smith-god Volömer, who stole children’s eyes and used them to fashion the pretty gems.
Some of the stories associated with Opal appear to trace back to an allegory in Plato’s Republic (380 BCE). Once upon a time, a poor shepherd named Gydes from the kingdom of Lydia left his home in search of adventure. During his journey, Gydes survived an earthquake and saw a chasm opened up in the Earth. He went inside and saw a corpse wearing a ring with a precious stone. He stole the ring and returned to Lydia. He soon discovered that the stone could be manipulated to make the wearer invisible. He used the ring to sneak into the bedchamber of the Queen and make love to her, and then later killed the king. The Queen married Gydes and elevated him to the throne, and the two lived happily ever after. The purpose of this story in the Republic was to ponder whether or not an intelligent person would behave morally if they had no fear of being caught or punished for any misdeeds. While Plato did not name the stone specifically, later historians agree that that the stone was an Opal. Opal was widely believed to be able to confer invisibility and was also nicknamed, the patronus furum, or “Protector of Thieves.”
Despite these unsettling stories, during the ancient and medieval period Opal was seen as a symbol of hope and purity. In one of the myths of Orpheus, the legendary Greek musician, Opal was described as “the delight of the immortals.” During the Roman Era it was sometimes referred to as cupid paederos, or “Cupid’s Stone” because of its bright color and flashing fire, as well as how it inspired love in all who beheld it.
During the nineteenth century, Opal became associated with bad luck, an idea which may have first been promoted by the jewelry industry as an explanation for why Opals fracture so easily, even when treated with care. As proof, the jewelry industry nodded towards a novel by Sir Walter Scott, Anne of Geierstein, (1829), in which an enchanted princess named Hermione wore an Opal in her hair, which mimicked her moods with its flashing colors. She married a man she loved and bore him a daughter. But when it came time for the christening, a drop of Holy Water splashed on the Opal, turning it into a dull pebble and sending Hermione into a coma. The next morning Hermione’s body was gone, only the dull pebble and a pile of ashes remained.
However, the reputation of Opal as a symbol of bad luck may also have been related to the Spanish Royal Family. During the summer of 1885, King Alfonzo XII (1857-1885) died during an outbreak of cholera. His mother, sister, and sister in-law also died. Queen Maria Christina (1858-1929) believed that these deaths were due to a “fatal gem,” an Opal that the King had given to her on their wedding day. She had the Opal made into a necklace, and hung it around the neck of the statue of the Virgin of Alumdena, the female patron saint of Madrid. No more deaths rocked the royal family, and the Opal necklace remains in place to this day.
Today, the vast majority of Opals come from the outback of Australia. The “Opal Capital of the World” is the small desert town of Coober Pedy, in Southern Australia. Opals were discovered in the desolate Stuart Mountain range in 1915, by a 14-year-old boy named Willie Hutchinson. He and his father were searching for gold but instead found a mother-lode of pale white sparking gems.
An Opal Rush began, and hundreds of men seeking their fortune poured into the “Stuart Range Opal Field.” This name was deemed too boring, and was replaced with kupa piti, Aboriginal words that meant “the boy’s watering hole,” a nod to Willie Hutchinson. In a bizarre turn of events, Willie died in 1920 while swimming in a water hole. Kupa piti gradually become Coober Pedy, which local residents now claim means “white man in a hole.”
Healing Properties of Green Opal
Spiritual: Green Opal gives us a fresh perspective on life whenever we are feeling stuck in a rut. It can point us towards our “calling,” whether it is one which lasts for our entire lifetime, or only for an important season in our life. Green Opal reminds us that life is beautiful and to actively, consciously notice that beauty in our everyday lives. It stimulates our creativity and originality and encourages us to be our dynamic, wonderful self! Green Opal deepens meditation and can also be used to align the Chakras and balance male/female energies. It is attuned to the Heart Chakra and linked to Aries, Cancer, Libra, Scorpio, Pisces, and Sagittarius. It is connected to the Elements of Earth and Water and vibrates to the numbers 8 and 9.
Emotional: Green Opal lightens the heart and shares with us its relaxed and sensual energy. It has a very soothing vibration, which helps us to recover after dealing with stressful situations. It renews our emotional reserves and helps us to return to optimal emotional readiness. Green Opal liberates us from feelings of fear, shame, and guilt. It is a wonderful stone for exploring self-love, gently reminding us that when we take care of ourselves and nourish our own hearts, we are stronger and more capable of taking care of the rest of our world and the people we love. When used in romantic relationships, Green Opal amplifies desire and teaches us the art of seduction, while also inspiring loyalty and faithfulness.
Mental: Green Opal amplifies our discernment, helping us to sort through complex information and correctly identify the parts that require our attention. This discernment also helps us to make better judgement calls about people and situations, so that we can give our energy only to those individuals and opportunities that serve our Highest Good. Green Opal attracts good friends and business partners, and can also encourage us to make wise financial choices. When placed in an office, Green Opal improves business relationships and creates a more effective and pleasant environment to get things done.
Physical: Green Opal is used by metaphysical healers to treat the physical heart as well as the liver and kidneys. It is often used during detoxes, spa treatments, and while fasting. Green Opal is believe to reduce insomnia and to provide a deeper and more restful sleep. It is also said to prevent or reduce nightmares, especially among children.
Always use wisdom when considering crystal therapies for healing.
Ethically Sourced Green Opal
I first met the owner of the lapidary at the 2006 Gem and Mineral show in Tucson, Arizona. At that time I was working for a crystal shop in Utah and was at Tucson primarily as a “pack mule” to help carry all the stones. It was generally agreed by our crew that the “Madagascar” tent contained the most beautiful stones in the entire show.
In 2014, I embarked on my first buying trip for Moonrise Crystals. The company I knew of only as “Madagascar” was the one company I was most determined to find and buy from. This lapidary company only sells at a handful of major gem shows. The only time they are in the USA is for the Tucson Gem Show. During the rest of the year, the lapidary hand polishes their stock and also does charity work in their local community. They continue to offer some of the most beautiful tumbled stones in the industry and are among my favorite suppliers.
In 2019, Moonrise Crystals and the Madagascar lapidary company joined together to financially support a rural school in Madagascar.
Green Opal Tumbled Stone
Color: Lime-green. This is a 100 % natural stone, so minor variations are part of their unique beauty
Size: 1 inch, or a little bit bigger
Weight: 1 oz
Shipping: Next business day – Domestic First Class averages 3-7 days, while International First Class averages 2-3 weeks.
Supply Chain: Traveling Earth to Pocket, this stone would have traded hands only four times.
The miners sells directly to the tumbler. The tumbler sells directly to Moonrise Crystals. Moonrise Crystals sells directly to you.
Safe Handling of Opal
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