The name given to opal was derived from the ancient Greek and Latin languages.The Greek Opallios and LatinOpalus, which both mean “to perceive a color change”. The first known opal relics were locatedin a cave in Kenya geologists believe that these opals originated from Ethiopia around 4000 BC. Centuries later it is amazing that only in 1990miners and consumers rediscovered Ethiopianopals all over again.Like many gemstones opals were used for jewelery and amulets typically pairedwith other gemstones. Similar totoday opals show off beauty,status and wealth a fashion trend that hasn’t changed for centuries.
1900 Hungarian Royalty uniform displaying crystal opal
Hungary was one of themajor opal producers withtwo locations inDubník and the Tokaj Mountains, near the village of Telkibánya. Precious opal and a special transparent yellow-orange common opal called honey opal were mined here however since theend of the 18th century production from Hungry has slowed and nowdays is mostly non-existent.
Slovakian Opal specimen
Luckily for opal lovers high grade opals were discovered in Australia. The black opal that was found was originally thought to be fake or treated as the opal was much brighter than Hungarian opal.However as buyers became more comfortable andmore black opal was produced Europeans particulary the Germans became the largest buyers. Since the late 1800’s, Australia has dominatedproduction of opalwith over 90% output market share.
The first recorded market for opal was the Romans. As a rich and powerful empire they used their new found wealth to spend on beautiful items that showed off their status.Opals whosecolors alter with each shift of light was considered exceptional when compared to one colour gems likepearls or diamonds. It is understood that the majority of these opals came from Hungary which produced crystal opals.
Mark Antony the famous Roman generalappreciated opal and of course Cleopatra. It is believed that he coveted an opal possessed by a fellowSenator known asNonius as the bright lights reminded him of nights spent with Cleopatra. The Senator refused to sell the stonesupposedly worth 2,000,000 sesterces or (US $80,000) fleeing Rome leaving behind his home but leaving with his most highly prized possessions his head and opal.
The fable also says that one Roman Emperor presented to trade one-third of his kingdom for just a single Opal. Opal has been used in the crown of kings including France, in fact the Emperor Napoleon offered his Empress Josephine a brilliant red opal surrounding with radiant red flashes referred as “The Burning of Troy.” Queen Victoria reignited the trend in modern times becoming adevotee of opal wearing opals throughout her rein.
Was this article helpful?1 person found this article helpful