Beautiful, precious opals are unique gemstones, famous for their shimmering display of colours. Multi-chromatic flashes of colour appear and disappear as the stone is moved.
So where do these colourful gemstones come from? Opals are generally found near the earth's surface where there were once ancient geothermal springs. Millions of years ago, a silica-rich solution was carried into cracks and voids in the rock, and as the water evaporated, it left behind a silica deposit, eventually forming ribbons of opal within the sedimentary rock.
Large deposits of opals have been found in Eastern Europe, North Africa, Central America, and famously, Southern Australia (the location of an 'Opal Rush' in the early 1900's). Now more than 90% of the world’s quality gem opals come from Southern Australia.
These mesmerising gemstones have been cherished for thousands of years. In Aboriginal culture, opals feature heavily in Dream-time stories, associated with their first ancestor, conveyed to Earth on a great rainbow. According to ancient Greek legend, opals were formed from the tears of joy wept by Zeus when he defeated the titans. The Roman historian, Pliny, admired the opal, describing it as containing: “a softer fire than the ruby, the brilliant purple of the amethyst, and the sea green of the emerald - all shining together in incredible union".
Opal gemstones have been prized throughout history by royalty in Europe. A large white opal featured as the central stone in the 13th Century crown of the Holy Roman Emperor, and Queen Elizabeth I often wore a full set of opal jewellery she received as a gift from one of her favourite courtiers, Sir Christopher Hatton. Opals were also a favourite of Queen Victoria, who gave them as wedding gifts to each of her daughters; in Victorian times opals were seen to symbolise purity and hope.
The opal is the traditional birthstone for October. We have used white opal in our October birthstone jewellery. This opalescent creamy white gem contains fiery flashes of pink, blue and gold, giving a rainbow-like shimmer with every movement.
Our sterling silver October birthstone pendant displays the gemstone in a simple polished surround. Matching opal stud earrings are also available to complete the set, or to wear separately as classic everyday earrings.