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20 Fun Facts About Opals

Let’s shine a light on one of the most intriguing gemstones, the luminescent opal. We guarantee these fun facts about opals will amaze you!

cool facts about opals

While other gemstones like diamonds, rubies and sapphires may get all the limelight, the unique and mesmerizing opal is definitely one of our favorites. 

An opal refracts natural light to reveal thousands of different hues and colors. This rare gem is well-known to hypnotize with its beauty. I mean, just look at all the colors!

We’ve got you interested, haven’t we? Then keep on reading to discover some more fun facts about opals that will really surprise you.

Like what planet has opal been discovered on other than Earth? Or how do droplets of rain from millions of years ago form into an opal? And what about Coober Pedy, the Australian opal mining town where everyone lives underground?

interesting facts about opals
How much do you know about opals?

The world of opals is quite fascinating, and the mind-boggling opal facts we’ve uncovered will have you wanting to splurge on an opal pendant – especially if you want to get rid of your recurring nightmares!

Let’s find out how opals went from an omen of bad luck to a harbinger of good fortune over time. And let’s bask in the million-dollar opal that is said to shine from within.

Opals are the most delicate gemstone that radiate in a rainbow of color and it’s time we give them the attention they deserve. Let’s dive in and bask in the gorgeous opalescence!

fun opal facts
It’s time to learn all about opals!

20 Fun Facts About Opals

1. Origins of the opal

While the exact date of discovery for opals is still disputed, the earliest artifacts containing opal come from before 4000 BC. The Romans called opals, opalus, which translates to precious stone. A truly deserving name for this magnificent gem!

2. The spirituality of the opal

Opals are good luck stones that can protect us from nightmares and bad spirits. Opals are also said to have the ability to quiet thoughts, bring on visions, and foster connection with the spirit world. So you wanna talk to a ghost? You need some opals in your life!

worlds biggest opal
How beautiful is the Virgin Rainbow opal?

3. The most famous opal

The Virgin Rainbow opal is a sight to behold! The range of colors within this opal are infinite and people get lost in its beauty unable to take their eyes off of the ever changing play of light.

This opal was discovered in 2003 and is on display in an Australian museum.

4. What happened 30 million years ago?

Opal was first formed by deposits of silica that solidified between rocks 20 to 30 million years ago. How long exactly does it take opal to form? 

Not too long, just 5 million years! This was one of the opal facts that blew our minds!

5. Let it rain!

Believe it or not, opal formation can be linked back to a single raindrop. Most experts believe that rain washed silica into the cracks and canyons of what is now Australia. 

When the rainwater evaporated, the silica was left behind to start the 5 million year process of hardening into opal!

opal trivia
It can take 5 million years to form an opal!

6. Water softener

While gemstones like diamonds are so hard they can’t even be scratched, the opal is quite soft in comparison. Opals are 6 on the MOHS scale of hardness compared to a diamond’s 10.

The reason? There is still unevaporated water in an opal. A typical opal can have between 3% and 20% water content.

7. The land of opal mining

Australia, where opals are believed to have first formed, accounts for a whopping 95% of opal mining in the world! Some of the lesser countries that also mine for opal are Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua and Ethiopia.

8. Are you common or precious?

Opals come in two categories. Precious opals are rarer, deeper in color, more eye-catching and much more expensive. Common opals are one solid color and are not as sought after. The most desirable precious opal is the black opal.

where are opals found
Like most gemstones, opals have to be mined

9. Cracks in the foundation

Because of the high water content of opal, the opal is the most delicate of all the gemstones. In fact, the water in an opal never stops evaporating, leading to opals sometimes cracking over time. To us, the fragility of opal makes it even more precious!

10. Oh, the many ways to describe an opal

Known for its multitude of ever-changing colors it isn’t surprising that describing the opal with words is an almost impossible task.

However, some have tried, with opals being compared to erupting volcanoes, nebulous galaxies, and exploding fireworks. But really, you gotta see it to believe it!

11. An opal by another name

Opals have inspired and mesmerized many people and civilizations over thousands of years from the Romans to the Royal family.

Some of the nicknames given to opals throughout their illustrious history include; Pandora, Light of the World and the Empress of Jewels.

opal information
Opals are actually unlike all other gemstones

12. Come on opals, let’s get in formation!

Here is one of the more scientific and nerdy fun facts about opals that we unearthed!

Unlike other gems, opals don’t have a crystalline structure. Instead, when looked at under a 30,000X microscope, opals are made up of billions of silica spheres in a uniform grid.

13. The opal capital of the world

Did you come looking for interesting opal facts? Well we’ve got you covered! Coober Pedy, Australia is famous for opal mining. In fact, most people live in underground houses to avoid the sweltering heat. 

How did the town get such an odd name? From the indigineous phrase kupa-piti, meaning white man in a hole. LOL!

14. Opal officials

Here are a couple opal facts that you might want to learn for when the time comes to purchase the perfect gift.

Opal is the official birthstone for anyone born in October. Also, in traditional gift giving, opal is the suggested gift for a 14th anniversary. Ready to come opal shopping with us?

black opal facts
95% of the world’s opals come from Australia

15. The greatest opal miner

Just call him the opal hunter! Charlie Dunstan has discovered some of the most famous opals of all time. 

In 1938 he unearthed the Aurora Australis opal, the most valuable black opal valued at over $1 million. He also mined the Andamooka opal that was gifted to Queen Elizabeth II in 1954.

16. All of these opals are not like the others

If you splurge on a piece of opal jewelry you can rest assured that you have a one-of-a-kind treasure. No two opals are alike! 

What makes each opal different are the veins, sheens, colors and impurities special to each individual piece.

17. What am I going to pay?

An opal’s price depends on a few criteria. The type of opal is the first thing to consider, followed by the vibrancy and deepness of the color, and the diversity of color. 

For the famous and rare black opal you’re looking at $100 to $1,500 per carat. Start saving now!

opal history
Opals need to be refined and polished before they resemble the gems we know today

18. Opals on Mars

Can you believe it? This is one of the coolest facts about opals hands down! In July 2015 the NASA Reconnaissance Orbiter discovered opal deposits on the surface of Mars. It is one of the only Earth-occurring gemstones ever found in outer space!

19. Opals are good luck!

Even as far back as the Romans, opals have been considered lucky. The Romans thought that since opals were made up of all the colors of the different gemstones, the good qualities of each were encompassed in the opal’s rainbow.

20. Opals are bad luck!

The reputation of opals took a hit when the writer Sir Walter Scott wrote a book called Anne of Geierstein in 1829. In it the main character dies after her opal pendant turns colorless after making contact with holy water. 

This plot twist rattled the opal market, plummeting purchases of opal down 50% for almost 30 years!

Who wants more fun facts?

fact books

If you’re looking for some recommendations, these are a few of our favorite fact books to buy. We use these when planning fun trivia nights with family and friends!

  1. Interesting Facts for Curious Minds
  2. 1,144 Random, Interesting & Fun Facts You Need To Know
  3. The Intriguingly Interesting Book of 555 Fascinating Facts

Did these facts made you see every color of the rainbow? Or are there a bunch of fun facts about opals we have left unearthed? You can let us know in the comments below!

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