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October Birthstone – The Opal.

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Opal is derived from the Roman term “Opalus” meaning “precious stone”.

Opal the October birthstone exhibits a vibrant spectrum of colours, as you move the stone you will see flashes of colour, this phenomenon is called play-of –colour. An Opal may show a single colour, two, three or all colours of the rainbow. If an opal has all the colours of the rainbow, it is very rare and valuable.

According to legend, Cleopatra is said to have worn a magnificent set of opals to attract Mark Anthony, ruler of Rome. Queen Victoria was a collector of the gemstones, one of the many rulers who wore crowns encrusted with the gems to protect them against evil and enemies .Other nations believed that the opal was considered a gemstone that brought immense fortune to the wearer. As a result the stone was considered lucky.

The Opal, is thought to have healing properties and it is believed to be effective in curing eye infections, enhancing ones creativity, calming nerves and strengthens memory.


Famous Opals

The “Olympic Australis” is an extraordinary & unique Opal that is reportedly the largest and most valuable Gem Opal ever found. Weighing 17,000 carats and is currently valued at AUD$ 2,500,000.00. The gem is 11 inches long, with a height of 4 ¾ inches, and a width of 4 ½ inches. This extraordinary gem opal is housed in a special safe at Altmann & Cherny’s showroom in Melbourne.



The Red Admiral or “Butterfly Stone” was discovered during World War I on the “phone line” field and weighs 51 carats.  In 1920 the stone was given the name “Butterfly” because of its resemblance to the British butterfly, the Red Admiral.  



The Fire Queen Opal, found in 1906 by Charlie Dunstan and originally named "Dunstan's Stone" (Later renamed to "The Fire Queen"). The gem weighed in at about 6.5 oz. or nearly 900 carat and was alive with colour a marvellous gem.

 Charlie Dunstan sold the gem for a small sum of £100 to an unknown buyer on a trip to Angledool, the story goes that Dunstan got drunk and "lost" two other big stones. In November 1910, Charlie Dunstan was found dead in his hut from a gunshot wound to the head. The verdict was that he had committed suicide.

After being originally sold for a mere £100, the stone changed hands several times, each new buyer finding it difficult to sell as there was hardly any market for big black opals in those days. By 1928, the Chicago Museum, valued the gem at £40,000 after being renamed "The Fire Queen". In the 1940's, it was then resold to J.D. Rockefeller for £75,000, who donated the gem to his prestigious family collection.


Halley's Comet Opal is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest uncut black opal. The massive stone was found by a group of opal miners on the Leaning Tree Claim atLightning Ridgeknown as "The Lunatic Hill Syndicate" about the time "Halleys Comet" appeared in Australian skies.

The opal weighs 1982.5 carats and measures 100 x 66 x 63 mm, or 4 x 2-5/8 x 2-1/2 in. Halley's Comet was for sale in 2006 for AUD $1.2 million. The gem has a thick gem quality green and green/orange colour bar and is the largest gem to be found at Lightning Ridge to date