Opals are Noncrystalline gems consisting of hydrated silica in the gel state. Opal has a hardness between 5.5 and 6.5 and a specific gravity of 1.9 to 2.3. The fracture of the mineral is conchoidal and its luster varies from glassy to dull. In color the opal also shows extreme variations from white to black, and in transparency from transparent to opaque. One of the chief characteristics of the opal is the brilliant play of colors which may be seen in superior stones. These colors result from the cracking of the original stone as it hardens and the deposition of additional opal in the cracks. The indices of refraction of the original stone and the additional deposits are frequently different and result in light interference causing a play of colors. 

Opal has been used as a gemstone for many centuries in spite of a superstition that the gem brings bad luck to its owners. A large number of different types of opal are known, but usually only the transparent or translucent varieties are used as gems. Gem opals include white opals, black opals, fire opals which are yellow to red in color, girasol which has a bluish white opalescence, harlequin opals which show uniform patches of contrasting colors, and lechosa opals which have a deep-green play of color within the stone. Other types of opal include moss opal which has inclusions of foreign material resembling moss, hydrophane a porous, white opal which is cloudy when dry and transparent when the pores are filled with water, and hyalite a glasslike, transparent form of opal. Opals are found chiefly in Australia, Czechoslovakia, Honduras, Mexico, and Nevada.

Magic and Myth

Used to awaken psychic perception and mystical awareness, opal strengthens memory and aids in dreaming. It encourages flashes of insight and helps the wearer to achieve their higher potential. It offers creativity and inspiration. There are those who consider opal an "unlucky" stone. This may be because of the fact that opal can stimulate change to occur in your life - if you are not prepared for this, it may be better to chose another stone. If you are prepared for a change, opal can help to catalyze this, causing opportunities for growth to spring up around you.

Both grounding and energizing at once, black opal is a stone for looking within. It stimulates the third eye and brings insight and inner knowing. It aids the wearer in discerning the truth of themselves and those they deal with and helps them to reconcile those truths.

As hypnotic as watching embers burn in a fireplace, fire opal opens us to Mystery. It helps the wearer look within themselves and begin to understand the facets and tides of their lives. It adds clarity, depth and vigor to the intuition and the process of self-reflection. A wonderful stone during stressful times, fire opal helps to alleviate burnout, bringing confidence, renewed vitality and faith in one's abilities. It is a powerful ally for creating transformation in magic and in understanding of the esoteric.