Stones

Spicy and Steamy But Not Smokin'

Our aptly-named Spicebush necklace features a flutter of amorphous fire opals tastefully complemented with matte nuggets of vivid lapis lazuli. Fire opals are milky orange to deep red in color and rarely possess the ability to diffract light the way that precious opals do; however, according to lore they are powerful in their ability to draw out pent-up emotions and strengthen our sexual desire in a potent almost explosive way. Spicy indeed!

The name opal was likely derived during ancient times from the word “upala”, Sanskrit for “valuable stone”. Opal is essentially hydrated silica (think of those gel packets that come in your shoe box to absorb moisture) that has formed at low temperatures when water soaks through the earth picking up silica from sandstone then settles into cracks and voids. The resulting silica gel evaporates slowly leaving behind silica deposits in the form of veins and nodules.

 

By Dpulitzer - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30411934

By Dpulitzer - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30411934

25,000x magnification of the structure of opal: Image courtesy of usgs.gov

25,000x magnification of the structure of opal: Image courtesy of usgs.gov

The water content in opals can range from 3% to 21%, so they benefit from being worn regularly as they like humidity from the air and skin as well as body oils which seal in their moisture. In precious opals, the white and black varieties with lots of play-of-color we are used to seeing in fine jewelry, the silica molecules are regularly ordered in stacked planes, like ping pong balls in a box, that interfere with and diffract light as it passes through the opal’s microstructure. This diffracted light can express nearly every color of the visible spectrum. In common opal, or “potch, the distance between the silica molecules is large enough that the light doesn’t have to bend to pass through, so it is not diffracted and does not display any play-of-color. In fire opal, the burnt oranges, yellows, and deep reds are believed to come from trace amounts of iron.

All varieties of opals should not be left in the sun or overheated for they will dehydrate and possibly craze, and their play of fire, if any, will decrease. So while your fire opals like being steamy with you, they don’t appreciate actual fire ;) Simply lean into the power of Spicebush and wear it with total abandon.