What is Mexican Opal?
Mexican opal stones have several different names that they are often called; ‘fire’ and ‘crystal’ opal are among some of the more common names. Like other opals, Mexican opal is a hydrated silicate and has a water content that ranges anywhere from 3% to 10%.
Mexican opal also has a very beautiful opalescence, also known as ‘play of color.’ This describes the beautiful color-changing patterns that you see within the stone. Many gemologists state that the Mexican opal value depends greatly on its play of color. You can find Mexican opal in a wide variety of colors ranging from crystal clear and virtually colorless to stones in varying shades of yellows, oranges, and deep reds.
Brief History of Mexican Opal
In Mexico, the state of Queretaro was the first opal mining area and still remains the best location today. The oldest mine is Santa Maria del Iris, which was opened during the early 1870’s and since then has been closed and reopened nearly thirty times. From 1960 to 1970, the mines of Queretaro were being mined almost nonstop. Back then, it was far easier to find high quality opals in vibrant colors than it is today. The stones found during this time not only had vivacious coloring, but exquisite play of color as well. While Mexican opal is widely available today, finding gems of this same quality is extremely difficult, not to mention costly.
Buy Mexican Opal
Loose Mexican opal is quite easy to find as well as a wide array of beautiful jewelry pieces of all sizes and styles. Mexican opal is one of those stones that can be made to fit anyone’s particular jewelry tastes. The Mexican opal prices vary considerably depending on the quality of the stone as well as the setting it is in. Because Mexican opal can be slightly fragile, it’s best to buy jewelry pieces that are less likely to be knocked against things throughout the day. Necklaces and earrings make the best pieces, while rings and bracelets should be avoided.
When you buy Mexican opal, the one thing you need to be aware of is called “craze.” This is the tendency of the stone to develop very small cracks because of dehydration. You want to be aware of this especially when you are purchasing loose Mexican opal; be sure that you buy from a reputable seller. You can inquire to the seller as to whether the Mexican opal has been tested by being exposed to extremely high temperatures. Mexican opal that has not been tested should not be purchased.
Mexican Opal Myths and Beliefs
Thanks to Sir Walter Scott’s 1829 novel, Anne of Geierstein, Mexican opal (along with other opal) myths began that suggested that opals brought bad luck to the person wearing them. Such a beautiful stone was given such a bad name for a long period of time. In today’s tradition, the Mexican opal is considered a calming stone. It is said to invoke feelings of mental relaxation, harmony, and peace.
Mexican Opal Sources
True Mexican Opals are as the name suggests mined in Mexico, in particular Quereataro.