When I first started working in the jewelry industry, the opal jewelry most often sold in America was the Australian white solid opal. They were generally a milky white, with dots of red, yellow, orange and green play of color. It was called "pinfire", and often referred to as "Fire Opal" (although this now refers to the Mexican variety--vibrant reds and oranges). The Australian opals were inevitably oval, and of uniform, calibrated size. They would often be placed in cluster mountings, the opal central and surrounded by diamonds. Frankly, they didn't do much for me. They all kinda looked the same.
Unusual varieties were available back in those days, it just wasn't on most people's radar. Unless you were a rockhound, a world traveler or lived near an opal field, the average person (including a young jewelry store clerk) just didn't know anything about the other types of opals. But how things have changed!
OK--I admit it. Today I'm a confirmed opalholic. Started down the road to ruin with some Australian crystals with broad rolling flash. Lost it completely at Lightning Ridge, with a startling bolt of green electricity against a midnight blue sky. Now I'm smitten with a boulder that has a picture of my heaven on it, with a crayon box of colors.
This is the one I love. It looks to me like my favorite kind of landscape: the sun shining on a mountaintop, a pristine green meadow in the foreground with little yellow wildflowers, a big rock to climb and sit there with a sandwich and feel the breeze cooling your neck after a long hike. There's a lazy creek in the middle distance. There is not one other opal in the universe like this one. To me, this opal is symbolic of my spiritual journey. It speaks to my soul.
Today, a customer brought up the bad luck story of opal again, the very thing I mentioned in my last post. "It's supposed to be bad luck unless someone gives it to you," she said. Then after a pause, she smiled and added, "Well, that's what my mother used to say. But I don't care about that at all. I love opals and I'm going to wear them if I want. They really speak to me."
I think that is significant. The transformation within people on a spiritual level is always reflected in their choice of personal adornment. We're transforming from a consciousness of "it's bad luck" to "I make my own luck". From "they're too fragile for me to wear" to "I'm ready to care for this beautiful gem, this gift from the earth." From "I'm afraid to open my heart for fear you will break it" to "I'm open to love you, because I know how to love and take care of myself first." It is symbolic, I believe, for the love and care we are learning to give to ourselves.
Like just about everything else today, we can point to the internet as a key factor, in the rise in global markets and the barriers to trade broken down, and the sharing of information in an unprecedented way. But there is something deeper here. In the very rise of availability and interest in the varied forms of opal, the innate desire to say something different about ourselves, and to ourselves, is revealed. We're re-inventing who we are, we're integrating all we are into wholeness.
"For in them you shall see the living fire of the ruby, the glorious purple of the amethyst, the sea-green of the emerald, all glittering together in an incredible mixture of light." Pliny the Elder, 1st century A.D.