Tears of Joy of the Gods
Hardly any gemstone is surrounded by so many myths and legends like the opal. According to the mythology of antiquity, its colour-changing inclusions are tears of joy from Zeus, father of the gods, which he shed after defeating the Titans. Therefore, the stone was associated with the gloss of Olympian heaven and it was believed that the beauty of all the precious stones on earth converged therein.
Around the time of Christ, the gloss of opals beguiled Roman author Pliny the Elder: “For there is amongst them the gentler fire of the ruby, there is the rich purple of the amethyst, there is the sea-green of the emerald, and all shining together in an indescribable union.”
For a long time, opals were known to exist only in Hungary and only small quantities were found. The discovery of new and more plentiful deposits in the 19th century established the stone as a gem for the wider public. By now, previously unseen white and black opals from Australia as well as fire opals from Mexico and Brazil reached the European continent. British jewellery of the Age of Queen Victoria in particular features a rich and precious use of opals, since Australia as a colony of the empire delivered them primarily to Great Britain. Its wealth of colour suited the tastes of the time and it was often combined with reddish gold. Yet in the subsequent periods, the opal always remained one of the most popular gemstones.