Empire Gemstone Q&A: Opals
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The opal is the birthstone for the month of October—the Zodiac sign of Libra—and the 14th wedding anniversary gemstone. Opals also have a rich history dating back to Ethiopia about 4,000 B.C. Whether you were born in October or not, test your knowledge of opals with Empire Jewelers’ True or False quiz! Scroll down for the answers—but don’t cheat!
The opal is an ancient mineral known as petrified silica gel that is found deep in the earth’s core where geothermal hot springs once existed.
Opals are most commonly white in color, and usually contain a rainbow-like iridescence known as "opalescence” which changes the colors that appear in the stone depending on the angle it is viewed.
The subcategory of opals known as precious opals are the most common and in demand because of their "opulence.”
The word opal is derived from the Latin word "opalus," meaning precious jewel, as well as “upala,” the Sanskrit name for precious stone.
Opals are given to celebrate a 14th wedding anniversary, and are a symbol of faithfulness and confidence.
The Great Bard, Shakespeare, loved opals so much, he nicknamed them the “queen of the gems.”
The ancient Romans called the opal “Cupid Paederos,” which translates to “a child beautiful as love.”
In ancient Rome, opals were ground up and consumed because they were believed to be very nutritious.
The opal is Australia’s national gemstone, and its indigenous people call opals “the flash in the desert.”
Goober Pedy, Australia is known as “The Opal Capital of the World” because 51 percent of the world’s supply of opals are mined there.
In 2008, NASA discovered opal deposits on Mars! Since opal is made up of mostly water, Mars may have contained water for billions of years.
October Birthstone True or False Answers:
False. Opals are found near the earth's surface where geothermal hot springs once existed.
False. Precious opals are the most in demand because of their "opalescence” or “play of color.” This is caused by a hydrous silicon dioxide material that causes the gemstone to flash iridescent colors when the opal is viewed from different angles.
False. “Cupid Paederos” translates to “a child beautiful as love.”
False. Ancient Romans would grind up and eat opals because they believed they had healing properties and the power to ward off bad dreams.
False. The indigenous people of Australia call the opal “the fire in the desert.”
False. The name of the city is actually Coober Pedy, Australia.
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