opal birthstone

Opal Birthstone

opal birthstone

The opal has been perceived as an unlucky gem for several reasons: one was that it resembled the eyes of cats or frogs, creatures linked with witchcraft.

The stone was supposed to be used by wizards and witches to strengthen their evil powers, the laser-like colours used as an evil beam.

A far more likely reason for their association with bad luck is that the stone is very brittle and liable to crack when being cut or set.

Jewellers working with the easy-to- damage stones found themselves out of pocket so spread the rumour about opals being unlucky.

Another story is that opals were replacing diamonds in popularity and the diamond mine owners started the story to ward off competition.

The Roman senator, Nonius, was exiled after refusing to give his large opal to Mark Anthony. King Alfonzo XII of Spain died in 1885, along with his wife- to-be and three relatives, after wearing an opal ring given to him by his jilted for­mer fiancee.

No one suggested poison or cholera as cause of death, preferring to blame the opal.

opal birthstone
An epidemic in Venice in 1385 was blamed, not on the plague, but on opals. The superstition goes that the stone's lustre fades as its owner dies.

For others, the opal represents hope and purity.

Queen Victoria, one of the first to wear the newly-discovered Australian opal, gave the colourful stones as wedding gifts.

Napoleon gave Josephine one of the most famous opals of all time, the 'Burning of Troy', famous for its red flashes, created when the liquid silicon hardened over thousands of years.

Opals were also used in the French crown jewels, sold after the French Revolution proving, perhaps, that they were unlucky for those who lost their heads.

It is unusual for a stone to have such contradictory meanings: opals are unlucky; they protect children; they make romance more 'enjoyable'; they banish evil or represent the Evil Eye.

Opals are also said to improve communication and creativity, reduce stress and help heal old wounds.

Also known as the 'firestone', named after the light within, the opal has several colours.

Although it's meant to be unlucky for those not born in October to wear them, opals are worth considering as an alternative to more expensive stones, especially the colourful versions.

These multi-hued gems are known as 'previous opal', unlike their poorer cousins, the 'potch' or 'common' opal.

opal birthstone

In Arab tradition, opals come from Heaven on bolts of lightening and Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia, has been opened up to reveal fossilised gems in the shape of fish, mammals, plants and birds, as well as normal opals.

Be wary when buying opals over the internet: the colours can be deceptive as the screen picks up colours that can't be seen in normal lights. Always ask for a money-back guarantee, and enjoy. Any piece of jewellery, especially when a gift, is always lucky.


White (the most common), blue, black and, rarest of all, red

Where mined

95% of opals mined now come from Australia. They can also be found in Brazil, Mexico, Oregon (where the fire opal is found), Ethiopia. Kenya and Hungary (where they were found in Roman times).


The word 'opal' comes from the Greek word opthalmios meaning 'eye stone', because it was believed that the eye-like stone could protect eyes and give better sight - foresight as well as normal sight. Later, the stone was likened to the Evil Eye, a superstition equating the gem with bad luck 

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