THROWBACK THURSDAY – The opal’s superstitions and scandals, a history of October’s birthstone

The birthstone for the month of October is the opal. Our friends at Morris Jewelry in
downtown Bowling Green researched the history of the opal, an extremely special
gemstone sometimes known for its magical origin stories. In this week’s Throwback
Thursday, we visit the superstitions and scandals of the opal.
“Opalus” means a change in color and originated in ancient Rome. Opal gemstones
are known for their multicolor, glittery looks, depending on the way lights shines
upon them. Some associate the color changes with good luck, hope, truth, and purity,
but others believe a more ominous theory of suspicion and bad luck. We visit the
views from a few famous people throughout history.
The ancient Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, the man who wrote the first
encyclopedia, wrote of the various colors found in opals. The ancient Greeks
believed opals provided prophecies and guards for their owners.
As time went on and the world fell into the chaos of the Middle Ages, opals took a
more intriguing, dark turn in reputation. Sorcerers and witches were said to use
black opals for evil magic. The opal somewhat resembled an evil eye and became
associated with all things black magic: snakes, toads, and black cats. During the
Bubonic Plague, it was noted that opals worn by patients would remain bright until
their deaths, when the color dulled as the life left their body. Opals are affected by
heat, and will “burn brighter” the closer they are to it.
Are opals cursed? A line of Spanish royalty all died after wearing a certain opal ring.
Napoleon gifted Empress Josephine a fantastic black opal at over 700 carats, named
“The Burning of Troy.” That black opal has not been seen since her death.
But British royalty scoffed at the curse during the 1800s. Queen Victoria was known
for wearing several opals and gifted them to her family and friends. The British
somewhat saved the opal’s reputation.
Opals come in all colors, shapes and sizes. Discover white, crystal, black, grey,
boulder, jelly, and fire opals at Morris Jewelry, and send them all your opal
superstitions.