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Are Opals Bad Luck? – The Fluctuating Popularity of Opals

Woman wearing opal engagement ring

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Centuries ago, opal was believed to bring good fortune. In fact, the Romans considered this gemstone as a symbol of hope, while the Greeks thought that it granted its wearer the gift of prophecy. However, later on, the stone gained a bad reputation, and people started believing that it brought misfortune, especially if the wearer was not born in October. Due to these superstitions, opals fell out of favor, but today they’re as popular as ever. Here’s a look at the fluctuating popularity of opals, and why such a beautiful stone became associated with bad luck.

What Are Opals?

Let’s begin by taking a look at what opals are. The name opal came from the Latin word opalus, which means precious stone. During ancient times, this gemstone was known as the Eye Stone and was cherished for its flashes of color. In terms of symbolism, European cultures considered opal as a symbol of purity, truth, and hope. Additionally, some people also believed that this gemstone harmonized or balanced sexual desires. 

In today’s market, you can find two types of opal. The first is the common opal, and it comes with a milky luster. The precious opal, on the other hand, is known for its flashing colors and stunning appearance. Aside from that, the major source of this gemstone is Australia, however, it’s also found in other countries, including Peru, Brazil, Mexico, and the USA. 

As you can see, the opal has had a long history. Naturally, for a gemstone that old, various metaphysical meanings and superstitions are apt to become associated with it.

Superstitions and Stories About the Opal

Superstitions about opals

As we’ve already mentioned, originally opals were considered to be good luck. However, its reputation began to plummet largely because of the following superstitions:

1- The Evil Eye

During medieval times, people began to avoid opals because of its similarities to the eyes of supposedly evil animals, like cats. Back then, the term evil eye signified a malicious stare or glance that was meant to harm people. 

This association with the evil eye began in Elizabethan England. There the gemstone was called ophals, an abbreviation for ophthalmos or the human eye. For the Elizabethans, the stone was linked to the occult, and they believed that it brought harm and misfortune. 

2- Plague, Disaster, and Death

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the opal began to be associated with death and pestilence. It began in the 14th century when the gemstone was linked to the Black Plague, which killed a whopping 50 million people. According to rumors, a patient was wearing an opal blazing with colors, but after the patient died, the stone lost its brilliance. From there, the people blamed the gemstone for this misfortune.

In another story, King Alfonzo XII fell in love with Comtesse de Castiglione, and she reciprocated the king’s love. Unfortunately, the king married another woman, Princess Mercedes. For revenge, the Comtesse sent the couple a large ring with an opal. Smitten by the present, the princess wore the ring, but she mysteriously died after two months. From there, the ring was passed to the king’s grandmother, and she also expired immediately. The ring was given to the king’s sister, and she suffered the same fate. Afterwards, the king’s sister-in-law expressed her interest in the ring, and the same result happened. Devasted by the deaths of his family, the king wore the ring, and he also died.

Although the opal was present when these people died, the cause of death was likely an infectious disease that spread from person to person. Naturally, not knowing the cause of the deaths, it was easier to blame the misfortune on a stone.

3- The Novel Anne of Geierstein

Another reason for opal’s bad reputation comes from a careless reading of Sir Walter Scott’s book titled Anne of Geierstein. In the story, the opal belonged to Anne’s grandmother, who died of poisoning. The gemstone turned pale because it was warning the wearer against the poisoning. In other words, it didn’t represent bad luck but was instead a protective object. However, the public concluded that the heroine in the novel died because her opal was bewitched, and it became discolored after holy water touched it. Thanks to the novel, the European opal market dropped for decades.

4- Jealous Diamond Traders

During the 19th and 20th centuries, some diamond traders saw the qualities of the opal, and realized that the gemstone was going to be a threat to their income. When the Australian opal appeared in the market, it’s said that the diamond traders spread rumors that opals were bad luck. 

Opal in Use Today

So how are opals viewed today? The stigma of bad luck has slowly evaporated, and opals are highly popular gemstones once more. They’re often chosen for engagement rings or fine jewelry and are valued for their beautiful colors and unique sheen. They’re also valued for the purported metaphysical and healing benefits they’re said to have. Some of these include:

1- Emotional Healing

When it comes to emotions, opal is associated with desire, love, passion, and eroticism. For example, it’s said that opals can help you find your true desires that will lead to happiness and self-love. Additionally, this gemstone is believed to balance your emotions or feelings, especially if you have mood swings because of hormonal or mental health issues. Lastly, this stone can also promote creativity and happiness. Overall, opals are believed to you become more in control of your emotions or feelings. Through this gemstone, you can let go of your past regrets and move towards a path filled with love and joy.

2- Physical Healing

Some people use opals to strengthen their bodies and treat physical conditions. For example, opal is believed to support the liver’s functioning. Plus, it’s said that it can also help regulate your insulin levels and boost your immune system. Aside from those purported benefits, opal is also thought to reduce fever, ease PMS symptoms, and alleviate chest congestion. Additionally, the stone can also relieve the pains of childbirth, improve your vision, and ease water retention. Lastly, this gemstone can also help in skin regeneration and strengthen your hair and nails.

3- Money and Wealth

In the past, opal was viewed as a stone of luxury, wealth, and high social status. Additionally, it was also a stone of luck and good fortune, and was believed to bring health, wealth, and happiness to its wearer. Finally, it’s also believed that having an opal around can strengthen your instincts and will let you know if you need to remove yourself from a business transaction that is not right for you.

4- Love and Relationships

A lot of people claim that opal is the stone of love, passion, and sexuality. To be specific, it will encourage you to give up your inhibitions and try new things that will spice up your relationship. Opal is also a revitalizing stone that can help someone recover from heartbreak. Opal radiates positive vibrations, and it promotes love, kindness, and compassion. Through this, you can attract the right people who can bring out the best in you.

Disclaimer: Wedding KnowHow does not guarantee or validate any of the claims related to the metaphysical and alternative healing powers of this or any other gemstone. This information should in no way be used as a substitute for medical advice.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, the meaning or symbolism of a stone comes from what is attributed to it. While opal has been linked to a series of unfortunate events, we believe that it’s safe to say that these arose from a lack of knowledge or from coincidences and are mere superstitions. Today opal is once more respected and valued as a gemstone of exceptional beauty and has increased in popularity.