Divine Tears of Joy

32 Objects
Antique Opal Jewellery

round 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.” (nat. hist. 37.21) It is no surprise that many legends and myths have grown up around the opal and that it is one of the most popular gemstones of all.

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.

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. Especially British jewellery of the late Victorian era features by a rich and precious use of opals, as large opal deposits were discovered in Australia, the colony of the Empire, at the end of the century. Its wealth of colour suited the tastes of the time and it was often combined with reddish gold.

But also in the following epochs, the opal always remained one of the most popular gemstones. And new deposits such as the fire opals from Mexico further enriched the possibilities of choice.