When you think of regality, royalty, and beauty, you think of gemstones. They are the epitome of grace and luxury and have been used for centuries. Their rarity makes them unique, and people have found great symbolism in them, and one such gem is the opal, one of the rarest gems in the world.
The story behind its discovery lies in Australia; since then, Australia has been the hub of premium opal. So, how did people find it, and what is the significance behind the Australian opal?
A Brief History
This precious stone is made when silica-rich water seeps into the cracks of the Earth’s crust, forming small silica spheres. It takes about 6 million years for a small piece of the stone to form, making them highly precious among all gemstones. Likewise, you can generally find these precious opals in Cretaceous-age sandstones or mudstones in Australia.
The discovery of such gems holds immense historical significance. Johannes Menge, a German mineralogist, was the first person to discover opal in Australia back in 1841. He found them at Angaston in the Barossa valley, and it was then found in Queensland in 1869 as well. Black opal, one of the rarest kinds of opals, was discovered in the 1880s in Lightning Ridge. Tully Cornwaith Wollaston, who eventually became the father of the opal industry in Australia, took these opals to different countries and continents and thus began the emergence of the Australian opal.
Roman author Pliny the Elder beautifully describes the opal, saying that in this stone, you will see the flame of the ruby, the rich purple of the amethyst, and the sea-hues of the emerald blending in a mesmerising union.
Different Types Found in Australia
A few varieties of these stones are available today, some of which are found in Australian lands. So here are some of them:
- Black Opal
The most popular of all, this Australian opal variant has little to no opalescence. It can have hints of orange, yellow, and blue and originates from the Lightning Ridge area. It is believed that black opals have a healing effect on depression and anxiety and help manifest your goals and dreams.
- Crystal Opal
The crystal opal is almost transparent and looks ethereal when put under light. It is said that crystal opals promote good health and enliven the spirit, bringing happiness and joy.
- Boulder Opal
The boulder opals are said to have a deep connection with the Earth’s energies and bring clarity into the life of the wearer. It comes in vibrant colours, making them extremely beautiful to look at.
- White Opal
It is the most common and is the one that it is known for. It may not be as rare and precious as the black one, but the spectrum of colours that gets reflected on its surface looks absolutely stunning.
- Matrix Opal
They form in unique ways and occur between infillings, which appear like veins on the Earth’s crust. The matrix opal is said to deepen the connection with one’s emotions. It centres the mind, helping in decision-making.
Opals are not just beautiful gemstones. They also have deep symbolic meanings that are beyond your comprehension. As such, Australia will continue to be one of the central markets of these gemstones, and with gem companies becoming more mindful and conscious about sustainable mining practices, you can expect the industry to grow even bigger and better.