Opal is a gorgeous stone; its beauty knows no bounds. Throughout history, countless cultures and royal figureheads have admired this stone for its rarity, splendor, and peculiarity. It took a long time before opal opened up in markets, as the number of locales was tiny.
Though like with all great stones, there are great myths and stories associated with opal. Perhaps the most famous in recent history is the nature of gifting opal, as it is commonly told in legend that gifting opal is dangerous to the receiver.
This legend has roots in the story Anne of Geierstein by Sir Walter Scott, where a character dies shortly after the stone is doused with holy water. However, it is also possible that this myth pervaded from an incident that occurred later. Later, this myth of death became associated with King Alfonso XII and Queen Mercedes. The King gave his wife a beautiful opal ring, and, shortly after, she died; this happened only over forty years after the publication of Scott's novel.
Though much of the bad luck myths with opal are modern, as we will see, it turns out that there was a squabble over such a stone in Roman times. One Senator, Nonius, had in possession a fine opal ring, where the stone was supposedly as large as a hazelnut. Marcus Antonius coveted the ring and sought to purchase it from the Senator so he may gift it to Cleopatra. Nonius adamantly refused.
Marcus Antonius was not going to give up so easily, and so he provided an ultimatum to Nonius: sell the ring or live in exile. The Senator still refused to sell the ring. Given that opal is seen as a gift of death, perhaps Nonius did Marcus Antonius a favor.
Another anecdote supposedly comes from a Parisian newspaper. A young girl went to a small shop with a fine and fancy ring to sell. The shopkeeper took the ring, inspected it, and noted that it was opal.
Of course, the young girl didn't look like someone who could afford such an expensive piece of jewelry, so she was arrested immediately, as the shopkeeper suspected that she had pilfered it.
The young girl told the story of how she acquired it to the authorities. She claimed that she was out walking in the town, where she eventually paused for traffic and found herself next to a wealthy woman. Much to the young girl's surprise, the woman handed over an opal ring.
The legal officials were not amused by the story but took note of the descriptions, knowing that someone would, of course, come and claim an opal ring. Though, they did reach out to the supposed woman in the girl's story to see what held weight.
They were perhaps in shock when someone did come to see the ring and averred that the ring did indeed belong to the young girl, though perhaps the woman did not want to be the victim of bad luck if she took her gift back. Thus the girl was let go.
It seems unlikely that the stone is actually cursed or gives anyone bad luck. Scott himself probably never intended for the stone to be taken as such. But that is how people read it.
In fact, opal is probably a lucky stone. Anyone fortunate enough to lay their eyes, or, better yet, their hands, on such a stone is no doubt lucky in our books!
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