Opal is one of the most surprising minerals that can occur in the nature. Its multicolor optical effects can appear in variety of colors ranging from green to blue, to pink and gold. It can often be found combining more than one color in an individual stone. The most valuable opals are black ones, where the deep grey or black mineral base color intensifies the light leaks. These light leaks are extremely vivid and saturated in this type of opal.
The name of opal comes either from sanskrit word „upala” which means a valuable, precious stone or  from a greek world “oppallios” which means "to see a change” which is a reference to the palette of colors. Opal is considered to be one the most valuable photonic crystals - the type of crystal that has a varying light refraction index. Photonic crystals are often produced in laboratories for practical use, but opal is mostly used for jewelry.
Opals are mined in various places around the world, but some specific types are being exploited in remote places whose locations are separated by thousands of kilometers. Most of the black and white opals are being mined in Australia. The most precious ones with amazing illumination quality are dug out only by a narrow group of highly qualified miners in the Australian Lightning Ridge Valley. 
Fiery Opals, also called Paradise Bird’s Stones are extracted in Mexico, proudly being called their national stone. It’s been known for its incredible mix of orange and red light refractions. Another opal worth mentioning is definitely the Crystal Opal, with a half-transparent structure and intensive „fire” effect that appears on it with the changes of light angle.
Precious Opals are known from the ancient times but they were discovered quite late, around the time of the existence of Ancient Greece. The Mayans and the Aztecs used to compose mosaics from Opals and they performed rituals, believing in the magic power of the stone. It’s a known fact that they used to prepare healing potions from it as the stone was considered to be a gift from the Gods.
Australian and Mexican deposits of opal were discovered in the second half of the 19th century, and from the 1870’s, they became the main centers of mining and export of this unique mineral.
Today, Opal jewelry is commonly chosen as a symbol of love and loyalty, and is frequently set in engagement rings. The value of opals can exceed diamonds because of their rarity, unique colors and light effects.
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