The History of Opal Gemstones

Held OpalThroughout our history Opal has been considered to be a mysterious stone. Largely due to its unique play of colour -  it combined the beauty of all other precious stones. As early as 250 BC Opal gemstones were established as a precious gem, and the Romans valued the stones, having the impression that it brought them luck.

The Origin of the name "Opal" has long been discussed, it is thought that the name may have originated in Greece - from the word "Opallios" in 100 BC.

Opal is first said to have been discovered in Kenya, Africa. having been found there in 1939 by an Archaeologist named Dr Louis Leakley. The Opal artefact was found buried in the "Nakuru" cave which has been dated from around 4000 BC.

Opals also have a place in Roman history, It is said that a Roman Senator named Nonious had acquired a most beautiful Opal gemstone that was renowned thought the ancient world. Mark Antony wished to give the stone to Cleopatra as a gift, however Nonious declined to sell the Opal and then had to flee for his life from Rome, Opal still clenched in his hand.

Around 250 BC Opals had been reported to originate from the Orient. However other reports indicate Opal mining in Slovakia. These mines are believed to be the source of all the Opal used commercially until the discovery of Opal gemstones in Mexico in the 16th Century.

In the 1890's Australian Opals appeared on the world market taking it by storm. This was due to the abundance of brilliant 'fire' within the gemstones colouration which had not seen before. Thus Australia became the worlds leading supplier of precious Opal. Australian opals have since well earned their popularity, and are now one of the most precious, appreciated and valued of the world's gemstones.