Opal Gems and Amulets

Opals are lovely gemstones that have been treasured by people for thousands of years. Although it is often classified as a semiprecious stone, some fine qualities of opals -- known as precious opals -- can sell for as much as $1,000 per carat. Opals are considered to possess healing powers and also considered by many as giving people who wear it additional sexual powers. It is also known as The Stone of Hope and as "the stone of the gods".

Opals are usually opaque white in color and interspersed with sparkling colors which can include red, gold, purple and green. In stones known as fire opals, these colors seem to literally "dance" and sparkle, adding a very beautiful and unique quality to these stones. Although opals are found in many countries, some of the most beautiful varieties come from Australia, where indigenous Aborigine tribes attribute mystical and religious qualities to them.

Opals are often worn as amulets, due to their attributed qualities, as well as set in rings and earrings. The stone is made of hydrous silica and are more fragile than other types of gem stone and scratches easily. In Mohs gemstone hardness scale, opals range between 5.5 and 6.5, less than quartz. Opals also may tend to "fade", meaning that the luster and colors may become dull over time, due to exposure to natural elements and other corrosive factors, including body sweat.

Although many varieties of opal stones are mounted in rings, the stone is generally too soft to be faceted. Due to the several varieties of opals, ranging from simple opaque types to the fiery precious varieties, it is easy to find opals that fit any budget.