The word “opal” comes from the Sanskrit upala, meaning “precious” or “valuable stone”. It is largely associated with Australia as they continue to produce upwards of 95% of the world’s yearly supply of opal, and tout the gem as their national stone.
One of the most unique properties of opal beads is its amazing variety of naturally occurring colours within a single stone! The technicolour appearance of many opal beads is caused by a blend of silica and water. In fact, opal is referred to as an amorphous stone because it develops in the form of a gel, where trapped underground water has no choice but to mix with preexisting silica residues. The result is a stone that is often more than 6% water – very soft indeed. This means that, as with all relatively soft gemstones, opal jewellery bead wearers should be careful not to scratch or crack their piece of opal jewelry. Since opal has such a high water content, it also has the potential to dry out, developing cracks and fissures. Not to fear – opal gets all the moisture it needs from the natural oils in human skin. Wear your opal jewellery bead often, give it the attention it deserves, and your opal jewellery bead will retain its beautiful colours and sensational lustre.
Opal has been thought to alleviate depression, enhance memory, help eyesight, and soften Parkinson’s disease symptoms.