Opal is brittle, heat sensitive, and breaks and scratches
easily; additionally, some varieties self- destruct through
the loss of water.
Even with these drawbacks, opal's unsurpassed beauty
guarantees its status as a premier gemstone. The derivation
of its name even adds to its position.
opal's name evolved from the Roman word opalus from
the Greek word opallios meaning "to see a change of
color." The Greek word was a modification of the ancient
Indian Sanskrit name for opal, upala, which meant
"precious stone." If one spoke in mixed tongues, then opal
would be opallios upala, "to see a change of color
Opal has over one hundred variety and trade names, but
the list of accepted or commonly used names is much shorter.
The most important and most widely known opal is the
Precious opal may be subdivided
further by color modifiers, white, black, pinks, and blue,
which describe the body color of the opal. Australia is
famous for its white and black precious opal.
Fire opal, the bright red, reddish-yellow, orange, or
brownish-red body colored opal is the second most important
opal commercially. Until recently, the best fire opal came