The term “opal” is derived from the Greek term “opallios” which means changes in color. The presence of multiple colors in an opal is due to microscopic silica spheres. These are able to diffract light, displaying many colors of the rainbow.
Many varieties of opals exist in the world, however a few have universal recognition such as the Boulder Opal and Fire Opal.
Australia is the country with highest deposits of opal. When the parched outback terrain is soaked by seasonal rains, it carries forward silica deposits into cracks that lie between rock layers. Once the water evaporates, it forms opals. Sometimes this silica will seep into skeletons and sea shells which will result in opalized fossils.
Opals were discovered in Australia in the 1850s. Since then, the country has provided up to 95% of the world’s opal supply. Other countries where opal is sourced include Honduras, Brazil, Mexico, Czech Republic and Idaho and Nevada in the United States. On the Moh’s scale of hardness, opal rates 6.
The term “tourmaline” is derived from “turamali”, which is Sinhalese and means “stone of mixed hues”. The tourmaline gemstone displays a broad spectrum of colors in the rainbow. Tourmaline is made up of several minerals which results in different colors, physical properties and chemical compositions.
Tourmaline is sourced from Sri Lanka, Brazil, Mozambique, Nigeria, Afghanistan and California in the United States. On the Moh’s scale of hardness, tourmaline ranks 7.5 which makes it a perfect, everyday jewelry. Egyptians valued tourmaline for their array of colors. The Chinese emperor was particularly fond of wearing tourmaline.
In ancient magic practices, black tourmaline was used as a talisman for protection against evil forces and negative energy. Today it is believed that wearing tourmaline shields against toxins, negative thoughts, pollutants and radiation.