Opals are admired for their captivating ability to reflect a variety of pastel colors. However, fire opal stands out in the collection of opals, as it reflects warm colors, in the range of yellow to gold.
Its base colors range from transparent yellow to deep cherry red and orange, due to which it lives up to its sizzling name! It may also exude a startling play of colors whose exquisite beauty leaves anyone spellbound.
This makes it a well-sought gemstone for jewelry. It also has many amazing benefits ranging from matrimonial harmony to enhanced creativity. Fire opal gemstones are different from other opals that we know. They were virtually unknown to the globe until the Spanish explored the stones in Mexico and Central America.
Due to the vibrant look and faceted cut, this precious gemstone does not appear like a typical opal and belongs to the luxurious group of opals.
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Fire opal refers to a translucent or transparent gemstone featuring warm, body or background colors ranging from red to yellow and orange. While it does not typically exhibit any play of colors that refers to a sparkling display of spectral colors when under a light source, sometimes it may show bright green flashes.
Fire opals without any play of colors are also known as jelly opals. They have red, orange, and yellow shades, due to which they are named so. They are known as sun opals.
Many people have a false belief that fire opal is an opal having red color in the majority and showing an iridescent display of colors. However, it is not so. It may or may not have a play of colors.
In the name, the word ‘fire’ refers to the fiery background or body color, not the sparkling play of colors. This gemstone, since ancient times, has been regarded as the stone of joy, energy, love, and confidence.
According to historians, the cultural value of this opal started from the Bronze Age and continued through the eons of Roman and Ancient Greece empires and to the Middle Ages. Due to the gem’s unparalleled vivacity, several cultures believed that it was produced in the waters of paradise.
The ancient Mexican natives known as the Mayas and the founders of Mesoamerica known as the Aztecs termed this opal as ‘quetzalitzlipyollitli,’ which literally indicates ‘the stone of the bird of paradise.’
The fire opal stones have been found in Aztec burial sites. The Aztecs also engraved them into the artworks and models and often worn them through different jewelry. These stones were also used for rituals and to make stunning mosaics.
However, the noteworthy gemstone wisdom along with the gemstone seemed to be lost despite being passed through different generations. However, in 1835, they were re-discovered in the Mexican highlands.
Today, fire opals are popular and highly viable for their range of colors, brilliance, iridescence, and the linked cultural and spiritual beliefs. Apart from the lustrous look, a global cultural and spiritual association exists with this gem.
Several cultures consider it as a hub of spiritual powers through which one can improve creativity and passion. For instance, it is a common belief that the fire element boosts strong intuition and independent thinking. Moreover, the gem is also known to fuel vitality and passion in personal relationships.
Thus, the fire opal gem provides positive meanings and attributes to its wearers. Above all, the most important meaning for which it is popular is the exemplification of the joy of the heart.
True to its name, this opal comes from fire; it is created in the depths of old volcanoes. This stone is formed when water percolates silica-rich lava and fills its hollows and ridges.
The lava retains water within it under tremendous heat and pressure, which then solidifies to form sun-bright droplets. Thus, fire opal is composed of small hydrated silica balls of different sizes. These size variations generate a dominant reddish-orange spectrum when put under the light that gets reflected.
As the spectrum is of red and orange, the silica structures are somewhat larger than those opals that result in a blue spectrum. It is a mineraloid, meaning it looks like a mineral but has no internal structure or crystal form.
There is no structural arrangement for forming crystals. Thus, fire opals are neither minerals nor igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic rocks.
The red and orange colors or their shades come from the fine iron oxide traces present in the gem. The non-ferrous ones are likely to exhibit pastel yellow, blue, and peach hues. With new global mines, red and orange are not the only colors or shades of fire opals found today. They can show as many colors as a flashing flame.
Fire opals feature a lower density level than glass. Just like other opals, they are relatively hard, with a rating ranging from 6.0 to 6.5 on the Moh’s hardness scale. Their tolerance to heat, alkalines, and acids is weak. Exposing them to excessive light or heat is likely to result in cracks or make them cloudy.
Although hard, these stones are somewhat sensitive, due to which they need a protective setting.
Fire opal signifies love and passion not only for people but for different life aspects such as careers and hobbies. Representative of good luck and success, this stone is believed to attract more customers when placed in your work area.
The stone is recommended for those who are active with a positive outlook. Its fire patterns are likely to fill one with joy and a sense of natural beauty. Just a look at this gem reveals the strength as well as the energy of its inner fire-like appearance.
Generally, people use opals instinctively for working on a few aspects of their personality. Fire opal is certainly not excluded. It is known to promote the drift of emotions and introduces courage, energy, strength, and endurance.
Its warm, flashing red-orange tones trigger a positive impact on the psyche and act as the mediums of harmony, peace, and friendliness.
The gemstone is linked to the second chakra called Svadhisthana representing sexuality. Thus, it helps in sexual healing by cleansing the memoirs related to the unfavorable or negative past experiences in this matter and making us realize our probable abuses of this vital energy. Thus, this stone is often recommended to couples for improving their married life from this aspect.
Fire opal is also known to help us get a better view of the present relationships for improving them. On the physical plane, it is believed to overcome energy deficits, stabilize the cardic system, fight infections, and kindle adrenaline production. It can also relieve one from lower back injuries and kidney ailments.
This gem is known to increase self-confidence in shy people. The fire-like appearance tends to kindle their confidence.
Types of Fire Opals
Fire opals are of two types, each varying in terms of background color and play of colors. These types are precious and common. The precious fire opal models exhibit a play of colors in crumbly and reflective patterns giving an illusion of flickering fire flame.
These multi-color forms show a whole spectrum of colors. Their array of coloration is due to light refraction. Most Australian models belong to this category.
They are admired for an extraordinary play of colors, less translucency, and lighter base colors. Despite exceptions, they typically do not have a rich base and sustain a lighter coloration than the common fire opals.
On the other hand, the common fire opals are translucent and show only a single primary color. These opals can be found in a variety of colors, but each specimen exhibits only one primary color range. These mono-color forms do not show a play of colors. Most precious Mexican models belong to this category.
Precious fire opals are the outcomes of a rare geological occurrence. Although silica is an abundantly available mineral, the process of producing a stone exhibiting the play of colors is does not occur frequently.
Many Mexican models are highly sought due to their rich reddish base and translucency. Indeed, fire opal is the national gemstone of the country.
Fire Opal in jewelry uses
The fiery, warm radiance of fire opal entices the jewel and jewelry fans across the globe. Unlike most opals, this one is often faceted due to which it sparkles with brilliance and showcases its symbolic sunburst.
Due to this brightness and good clarity, fire opal is particularly chosen for making earrings in which even small gems contribute to a stunning pop of color. The stone is also widely used in making hairpins and pendants that are usually not left to rough wear.
Fire opals are either faceted depending on the allowance by transparency or cut as a cabochon. The latter is known to reflect a rich glow.
Usually, the translucent fire opals are often transformed into cabochons, while the transparent ones are faceted that incident light can illuminate. However, it is common to spot a translucent to nearly opaque specimen with a stunning color being faceted.
Similarly, if a transparent specimen reflects a spectacular play of colors, it is possible to cut it into a cabochon just as most precious opals. In the case of the minor interplay of colors, it may be faceted with a little wonder of flash.
In most cases, when opal is used in jewelry, it is cut, shaped, and polished to be a cabochon. The resulting shape has a convex top and a flat bottom.
There are two reasons why cabochon cut is used for opals. First, these gemstones are delicate and contain a good amount of water. So, cabochon protects them from chipping and breaking. Further, cabochon polishing and smoothing reflect the most stunning rainbow of colors.
Second, faceting an opal is not meaningful if it is opaque. A translucent one is faceted as it allows the light to glow through it in a better way.
Otherwise, faceting an opal of solid color will not give any special effect such as brilliance (reflection of light), although it will give a different shape. So, faceting is only preferred for a translucent opal that will sparkle.
Although fire opal is usually cut in cabochons, it is possible to cut it into a faceted stone to add brilliance to the vibrant color.
Fire opal for jewelry use is made available in different shapes such as trillions, ovals, rounds, and cushions. However, oval is considered as the classic shape for valuable opals. You may even find these stones cut into other creative shapes.
Where does Fire Opal come from
A major reason that makes fire opal stones so distinct is that they are mainly mined in the different parts of Mexico and South America. This is why they are also called Mexican opals. In Mexico, they are found in the states of Queretaro, Chihuahua, Julisio, San Luis Potosi, Michoacan, Guerrero, and Hidalgo.
The mines in Queretaro are the most famous ones, as they have been active since 1835. Here, even today, you can spot small fire opal pebbles in the flowing lava having silica. Fire opals from these mines are commonly termed Mexican fire opals.
The Mexican highlands have substantial deposits of translucent varieties featuring a fiery red shine. Small quantities of this stone are also found in British Columbia and Oregon.
The gemstone is also abundantly found in Australia, Brazil, Peru, Ethiopia, and Honduras. The finest specimens of precious forms are from Australia; while the finest common specimens come from Mexico.
How much is Fire Opal worth
Fire opal is valuable and usually is sold at high prices in the international market of gemstones. Its value depends on its overall physical characteristics, such as the base color, presence of internal play, brilliance, and translucency.
There are also market-driven factors, which affect the values based on the current affairs. For example, the global demand for this stone can fluctuate as per the current events of the nation from where it is mined.
Moreover, the opal mines tend to offer variable production rates according to the output, contributing to the opal’s worth. Following are the main factors that affect the worth of fire opal:
- Rarity: Fire opal is rare as compared to other opals due to its depositional location and face-value aspects. For example, a particular appearance of one specimen, when matched with the demand for a few color blends can make it rarer than others. In general, most fire opal gems are rare as compared to other opals. Thus, they are more valuable than other opals.
- Body Color: As the red color is rarest of all shades, red fire opal is more valuable than other fire opal stones. Orange and yellow ones are more abundant and commonly found, due to which they are cheaper. Nevertheless, according to the thumb rule, the more intense the hue, the higher is the price regardless of the color.
- Transparency and Play of Colors: The more transparency, the more intense is the deep red body color, and the higher is the value. The best specimens are transparent, reflect a strong play of colors, and are fire-red orange in color. These are the highly prized ones. In contrast, the translucent specimens that are yellowish are far more affordable. It should be noted that fire opal stones with exceptional color cost more than some precious fire opal specimens with a less striking play of colors.
- Cut Type: A higher value is applied to fine cabochons featuring the most wanted play of colors than to faceted fire opals.
- Type: Opal miners have found that up to 99% of all opals are the common ones. This means only 1% will show a play of colors! Thus, those with the play of colors are more valuable than those without it. Precious opals are rarer than diamonds.
In short, the most valued fire opal is crystal clear, reflects a play of colors, and is extremely bright.
How to wear Fire Opal
Opals are worn because wearing them enables them to keep the water content balanced by consuming moisture from air via skin contact. Fire opals are no exception.
It is best to wear fire opal earrings, pendants, rings, or necklaces. In the case of a ring, it is recommended to wear the ring on the middle finger of the right hand on any Friday for boosting the positive influence of Venus.
How to cleanse Fire Opal
To clean your fire opal safely, wash it in a mix of warm water and mild dish soap and scrub those parts where dust is seen using a soft brush. You can even use a dry or wet microfiber cloth, soak it to get the trace amounts of the mix, and move it in a round motion to remove dust. Finally, rinse it properly.
Just ensure that you do not cleanse using any chemical-based or oily solution. As fire opal is not that hard, it needs some extra care. You should not wear it while performing hard physical work. This is because they are likely to chip upon hitting hard.
Like all fine jewelry, it is wise to remove fire opal jewelry before sleeping. It is not mandatory to store fire opal in oil or water when not in use.
However, it is essential to store its jewelry separately in a soft pouch or bag where it does not come in contact with other gemstones or crystals. Otherwise, it will get scratched or damaged by other jewelry.
Fire opal has almost 20% water, which indicates that it can get dry and end up cracking. This is known as the crazing phenomenon and should be avoided by occasionally soaking the stone for some hours in water. Some specimens may be filled with wax, oil, or plastic to keep crazing at bay.
Fire opals are highly fragile and undergo negative impacts from changes in light, temperature, and humidity. Nevertheless, proper care can make your stone last for a long time.
The best combination to use with Fire Opal
The flashing red-orange color is an ideal accent to earth tones and goes well with bright shades. For boosting your psychic abilities, consider using fire opal with Herkimer diamonds, indigo gabbros, or diamonds.
The orange fire opal activates the root and sacral chakra; whereas peridot kindles the heart chakra. Topaz stimulates the throat chakra; while amethyst activates the crown chakra. Ruby is known to positively impact the heart and sacral chakras for peace.
When you use blue-colored fire opal with emerald, expect the pair to give truth with compassion. It is for the empaths who are finding their destiny. While the former makes you wise and kindles the throat chakra, the latter instills humbleness and activates the higher heart chakra. Jointly, they can induce a charismatic personality!
If you want to cherish some meditative, calming vibes, consider using blue fire opal with aquamarine. This combination aids in restoring the lost treasures while meditating with the ring on the middle chakras. The healing fire opal ring can assist you in knowing the truth and wisdom in your life.
Consider using white fire opal with amethyst, a sacred blend for boosting the energy of high crown chakra. The white fire opal is known to make you smart and intelligent. As a combination, you can expect to build a better connection with the guardian angels.
When it comes to jewelry, Mexican fire opal earrings should be paired with equally bright and different colored stones to get a new look to the jewelry. Pink topaz and yellow fire opals can be an ideal pair. Bright yellow or orange ones can be combined with purple amethyst.
Fire opals are transparent to translucent gems with red, yellow, and orange base colors and with or without the play of colors. Their energies will bring delight to the wearer and help in improving relations and self-confidence. They are precious stones and are best used in jewelry pieces such as rings, pendants, earrings, and pins that are not exposed to rough wear.