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Opals: A Gemstone Steeped in History and Controversy

Opals, with their mesmerizing play of color, have captivated people for centuries. But their history goes beyond just beauty - it's a story intertwined with famous figures, myths, and even a touch of superstition.

Early Admiration:

  • Ancient Romans:  Opals were prized by the Romans, with Pliny the Elder, a naturalist, writing about their fiery iridescence. Some Roman emperors even wore opals as symbols of power and status.

  • Cleopatra:  Legend has it that the legendary Egyptian queen Cleopatra possessed a magnificent opal of unmatched beauty.

Medieval Misfortune:

  • The "Unlucky" Gem:  During the Middle Ages, opals gained a reputation for bad luck. This association may have stemmed from the stone's unpredictable play of color, leading some to believe it could bring misfortune. Queen Victoria's love for opals did little to dispel this myth.

Royal Reemergence:

  • Empress Josephine:  Empress Josephine of France, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, helped revive the opal's popularity in the 19th century. Her extensive opal collection showcased the stone's brilliance.

  • Sir Walter Scott:  The famed author Sir Walter Scott wrote about opals in his novel "Anne of Geierstein," associating them with love and hope.

Modern Marvels:

  • Australian Opals:  Australia emerged as a major source of opals in the late 19th century. These unique opals, with their fiery colors, captured the world's imagination.

  • Hollywood Glamour:  Opals have graced the red carpet, worn by celebrities like Marlene Dietrich and Elizabeth Taylor. These appearances solidified the opal's place as a symbol of elegance and sophistication.

Opals Today:

Opals remain a fascinating gemstone, appreciated for their beauty and individuality. While the "unlucky" myth persists in some circles, opals are increasingly recognized for their unique characteristics and rich history.

Interesting Fact:  Some cultures still associate opals with specific meanings. In India, opals are believed to bring good luck and happiness, while in some Native American cultures, they represent visions and dreams.


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