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The Colorful and Beautiful Opal Stone

The opal is one of the most beautiful of gemstones, flashing ever-changing colors from all ranges of the spectrum at our eyes. They shine like diamonds with a much larger variety of color and pattern.

Opal stones range in color from clear to white, yellow, orange, red, blue, green, rose, pink, slate, brown, olive, magenta and black. Of these, the most rare are the black opals and those with red hues. The most common are the white and the green opals.  

Enjoy these stunning photos of rare and vibrant opals!

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 There are two variety: precious opal, which shows flashes of color or iridescence, depending on the angle of viewing and light; then there is common opal which is often opaque and displays no iridescence. The iridescence of precious opal is caused by the way the structure, or regular arrangement of tiny silica spheres, diffracts light. 

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It was only 50 years ago, during the 60's, that a team of Australian scientists, analyzing the various opal stones with an electron microscope discovered the cause of the beautiful stone's unique visuals. It was discovered that small spheres from silica gel caused interference and refraction of light, and these in turn created the amazing hues and color play of the opal. 

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Some opal stones flash in myriad colors when exposed to light, such as this amazing Ethiopian opal who was only recently discovered, and looks for all the world like a scene from some underwater world when held against the light. It is called the 'Welo Opal' for that area of Ethiopia, and is priced per carat highly enough to compete with the most expensive rubies, emeralds and diamonds.   

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The opal is a unique stone in that it is not crystalline in nature, but made of hardened silica gel, and containing about 5-10% water. It's name comes from the ancient and now extinct language of Sanskrit, from the word "upala" which means "precious stone". 90% of all opal stones are mined in Australia, while the other 10% can be found in Brazil and Mexico.  

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The opal is also known, historically, as a very lucky stone, especially the black opal. It was thought to ward off the evil eye and grant travelers protection on their voyages. It guards your dreams from nightmares and focuses your mental abilities and energies.

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It was also thought to have psychological benefits, such as increase your inner confidence and aid in the 'casting away' of emotions and behaviors you wish to rid yourself of. 

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