History of Opal

What Is The History Of Opal?

Coober-Pedy Opal

There may be several opal origins; one is that it comes from a Sanskrit word "upala", meaning precious stone.

The Romans knew it by "opthalmus" being the Greek word for "eye" and also as "opalus".

To the Romans opal was very much valued, used as a preventative medicine against "eye" disease, as well as a universal good luck charm.

In itself Opal has been a precious stone for a very long period of history.

Australia’s National Gemstone Is The Opal .....

The history of opal in Australia began millions of years ago when parts of Australia were covered by a vast inland sea.

Over a period of time, water and rain floods flushed water, containing silica minerals from the ground surface, down into cavities and niches in sedimentary rocks.

Over a long period of time the silica stone transformed itself into Opal with the silica mixture also replacing any organic material including any plants, animals, sea shells, wood & bone deposited there making "opalised fossils".

When the water itself evaporated, any remaining silica formed a gel (minute silica spheres) hardening over time into what we know now as opal.

Australian opal

Opals, put simply, are a gel from silica with varying percentages of water.

The water content of opal varies between three and ten percent with opal having a hardness on the Moh's scale of 5.5 to 6.5.

The opals fantastic colour play is caused by the silica spheres dissecting light on its passage through the gemstone and turning it into all the colours of the rainbow. Where the spheres are larger and less uniform, the range of colour is much less.

Apart from Australia, opal is found in Mexico, Brazil's north, and also in the USA states of Nevada and Idaho as well as in Ethiopia.
In recent times opal has been discovered in Canada as well.


Over 90% of the world's opal supplies are mined in Australia.

- Black opals come from mainly the Lightning Ridge (New South Wales) area.

- Boulder Opal comes mainly from Quilpie (Queensland) and....

- Crystal & White (milk) opal comes mainly from CooberPedy,Andamooka & Mintabie areas (South Australia).

* (Picture of Cooberpedy, South Australia)

Aboriginal Opal Mythology .....

There are also many legends that surround the Australian opal gemstone.

" In the dreamtime of the aborigines, it is said that the Creator came down to Earth on a rainbow to bring the message of peace to humans and at the point where his foot touched the earth, the stones started sparkling and came alive with all the colours of the rainbow.

Thus was the birth of Opals!"

The following is an interesting aboriginal story, extract courtesy of Janes Oceania/Australia - (http://www.janesoceania.com/australia_home/index.htm) .....

"Opals, like other minerals, have a spiritual value in that they represent a part, such as an organ, a Dreaming ancestor left behind as a sign of his or her presence at a particular spot. Certain minerals and stones are imbued with the powerful energy of the ancestor.

The Adnyamathanha elders relate two stories about opals.

The first is about a young boy who was chasing a kangaroo. he caught it at Minipa with his wooden club, then sat down to have a meal. While he ate, he stuck his club in the ground so that it stood up.

The club turned into opal stone.

This story refers to the vertical or oblique planes of rock in which opal is found, one end of which is on or near the surface.

The second story is about Marnbi the bronze-winged pigeon, who threw a firestick high into the air. It landed near Cooper Pidy, an important opal mining area. When it came down and hit the ground sparks flew off in all directions.

These became opals."

The Metaphysical Properties of Opal .....*

There are many metaphyical qualities to opal, it is not just a "stone" - it is alive!

There are many different types of opal with many different metaphysical qualities that they are used for - here are just a few.

Australian opal

Opal generally has qualities that include helping with the release of inhibitions, the strengthening of the memory and the positive emotions of loyalty and love in relation to others.

It helps with creativity and feeling it from within.

It is known as the "stone of happy dreams and changes".

It can be used to encourage intuition and insight, to invoke visions and was used by the Australian aborigines during their ceremonial "dreamtimes".

Black Opal is an excellent stone for grounding as well as stimulating activity.

It can provide insights from the energy centre of the "third eye" and the "fire" within the black opal provide inner knowing.

With regards to the physical body it is related to the reproduction system, and can help with depression and the digestion.

Boulder Opal can help clear any "muddy" areas from the aura and helping in communication between the conscious and sub-conscious.

Boulder Matrix Fire Opal helps to bring about mental and emotional balance. It is excellent for development, progress and expansion. As the Boulder Opal, it can help with the auric field, clearing and brightening the aura, bringing about healing of areas in your life which are "unclear".

Boulder Matrix has been used in naturopathic remedies to increase healing energy in the direction in one's life. On a physical level it can be used to treat intestinal blockages, circulation problems and help with the stimulation of the flow of blood.

(*The above is given only in the way of topical information and is not to be used as medical facts.)

Other Pages of Interest:

Opal Types

Our Australian Mining Towns page gives information on the outback Australian areas that mine for opal......

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