Fire Opal Gemstone

Fire Opal Gemstone

The name Fire Opal is derived from the vivid fire-like orange color that Fire Opals are famous for (though they have also been found in white or brown colors). The brown variety of Fire Opals are usually the ones that exhibit a play of colors rather than the yellow-golden types.

The name 'opal' is derived from the Greek "opallus" which refers to the Opal's iridescent colors; "opalus" which is Latin means Precious Stone.

According to an Aboriginal Australian legend, when God came down to Earth, he came down with the rainbow. When his feet touched the Earth, at the very spot, the stones became alive and started to sparkle. That was how opals were created.

Fire Opal is the lesser known of the wide-ranging variety of opals. Fire Opals are known for the vivid colors that they display which come in yellow, brown, saturated orange or orange-red.

It is an amorphous hydrous silicon dioxide in chemical composition. Amorphous means that Fire Opal has no definite crystal structure; hydrous means that it contains water which in regards to Fire Opal is between 3 and 10 percent and in some cases, as much as 21 percent water weight. This high-water content makes Fire Opals delicate to heat and prolonged exposure to strong heat tends to dry and crack the stone. The high-water content makes Fire Opals look like jelly.

Fire Opals have a sub-vitreous to waxy, resinous luster when cut and polished. Lower grade Fire Opals have a cloudy appearance.

The Europeans of the Middle Ages were mesmerized by the display of colors as they believed that these colors were the colors of the many different types of colorful gemstones and thus brings good luck. Nevertheless, the Russians associated Precious Opals with the Evil Eye.

Fire Opals come with colors that are rich, intense, bright and glowing. Because Fire Opals occur with a good transparency, they are usually faceted. Brown Fire Opals, on the other hand, are cut en cabochon to maximize its effect of the iridescent display of colors. Fire Opals can also be fashioned into traditional ovals, rounds, cushions and pears.

Mexican Water Opal or Hydrophanous Opal are opals that display an internal blue or golden sheen. Mexican Water Opal is not the same as Mexican Fire Opal.

The Fire Opal that is cut with its host rock intact is sold as Cantera Opal. Jelly Opal is the name given to Fire Opals that exhibit no play of colors.

Fire Opal is not known to be treated or enhanced in any way though imitation opals do exist.

The golden variety of Fire Opals looks similar to Hessonite Garnet or Hyacinth Zircon. This golden variety usually comes from Brazil.

Other gemstones that can be confused with Opals include Ammonite, Labradorite, Mother-of-pearl and Moonstone.

Opal is said to get rid of depression and help the wearer find the love of his or her life. It is also believed to inspire creativity and inspiration.

Opal is porous and thus is believed to be able to absorb the thoughts and feelings of people, rid negativity and increase positive emotions.

Fire Opal carries powerful protective and healing powers.

Opal is the birthstone for October.

Due to its relatively low hardness at 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, opals are best used as pendants, earrings and brooches. Fire Opals, though being a soft, delicate gemstone, is often used in ring jewelry. However, it is highly recommended that this ring comes in a bezel protective style setting.

Opals are relatively soft. They have a tendency to lose their water content and when this happens, they tend to crack. It is therefore very important to keep your precious Fire Opal from drying out. You can do this by storing your opal inside a sealed plastic bag with a moist cloth or moist cotton ball. This is to keep it moist and prevent it from drying out.

Opals are also sensitive to heat and chemicals. They can be easily scratched. Thus, you can clean your Fire Opal simply by rinsing it with warm water and using it a soft clean cloth. Avoid coming in contact with bleach or any other household chemicals such as detergents.

A damaged opal is almost impossible to repair. Usually, damaged Opals are replaced rather than repaired. Damaged opals are repaired by impregnating it with resin to fill in the cracks.

Fire Opal is mostly found in Mexico and is mined in the Mexican states of Queretaro, Hidalgo, Guerrero, Michoacán, Jalisco, Chihuahua and San Luis Potosi. The most important deposit of Fire Opal is found in Queretaro and since its discovery in 1835 it is still producing Fire Opals today. Fire Opal has also been found in Guatemala, Australia, and British Colombia, Canada, Oregon in the United States, and more recently, significant deposits of Fire Opals have been found in Northern Brazil.