Many people are surprised to know this vibrant orange gemstone is a unique part of the lush world of Opals. Due to their striking, saturated color and faceted cut they don’t resemble the traditional idea of an opal.
What makes it an “Opal”?
This is typically the first question that customers ask when they see this gemstone. In actuality opals come in many colors, including colorless, white, yellow, red, orange, green, brown, black, and blue. Like traditional opals, fire opals are mined near volcanoes and contain relatively high water content of about 3 to 10% (sometimes even up to 20%). This is why opals are considered a delicate gemstone that should be worn with care.
Unlike other opals that flash many hues of blue, green and even red, fire opal is NOT known for its play of color. The appeal of fire opal comes from the vividness of its color. Fire opals can range from yellow to light red and can even have brownish undertones. This is caused by fine traces of iron oxide. They are either faceted or cut as a cabochon because it is the shape that best suits its unique color.
Mexico has the most significant fire opal deposits in the world. But this beautiful gemstone can also be found in Honduras, Guatemala, The U.S., Canada, Australia, Ethiopia, and Turkey.
It is thought that fire opals bestow courage, stamina, will power and energy to those that wear it. It is also thought that the fiery orange/red gemstone conveys the feeling of warmth, peace, and harmony.
The Aztec Indians of Mexico were among some of the first people to discover the fire opal. The Mayas and Aztecs used fire opal in jewelry and for mosaics and religious cults. They called it “Quetzalitzlipyollitli” which means “Stone of the Bird of Paradise”.
Crystal Structure: Amorphous