The Opal Gem

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Compared to the night sky, holiday fireworks, and the power of erupting volcanoes, opals contain a majesty incomparable to other precious gemstones. One opal can display a vast amount of color with intense display. Extreme color variations in an opal can challenge even the most expensive gems, such as rubies, emeralds, and even diamonds. The birthstone for October and for a couple’s fourteenth wedding anniversary has a unique history and a list of characteristics that make it stand apart from other gemstones and solidifies itself among the best of all gems.
The opal gem has a rich history that spans across many cultures and locations throughout the world. Its name is derived from the Sanskrit word “upala” meaning cloud or precious stone (Sanskirt Dictionary). Eventually this word was absorbed into the Roman language; their word “opalus” means precious stone. The Greek language also contains the word “opallios” meaning to see color change. Definitions such as these fit the opal gem quite well because both the Roman and Greek civilizations saw the opal as the most valuable gem, only second to emerald. Opal was treasured to the Romans to such an extent that the scholar Pliney praised the opal, saying:
For among them the gentler fire of the ruby, there is the rich purple of the amethyst, there is the sea-green of the emerald, and all shining together in an indescribable union. Others, by an excessive heightening of their hues equal all the colors of the painter, others the
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