Mexican Fire Opals
The most important locations of Fire Opal in the world are found in México.
Fire Opal are something unique in the splendid world of Opals. Even in ancient times, in India and the Persian empire, in the empires of Central America and in Native American tribes they were cherished as symbols of deepest love. Such gemstones sparkling with utmost vividness like Fire Opals were believed to have originated in the waters of paradise. Mayas and Aztecs loved it for jewellery and used it also for mosaics and religious cults. It was named “Quetzalitzlipyollitli“, which means“ Stone of the Bird of Paradise“. But there came a time when the gemstone knowledge handed down from generation to generation in Mexico was almost completely forgotten until sometime in the year 1835 when the fiery treasures hidden in the Mexican highlands were remembered, and a systematic mining was slowly beginning. Today Mexican Fire Opal is considered as the National Stone of the central American state.
Sometimes the orange red gemstone is also found in other countries in the world, like in Honduras or Guatemala, in the USA, Canada, Australia or Turkey, but in fact most of these occurrences are without considerable economic value. This is different for Brasil – in an agate mine near Campos Borges in the South Brasilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, yellow to range coloured, Fire Opals were discovered some years ago, and these stones are set apart by their beautiful colour, which often appears slightly dimmed, but is not opalescent. Their vivid and warm orange varies in all shades and hues between yellow and red, sometimes set against a brownish underground. Especially remarkable is the size of the rough stones. Some achieve a size of a fist and thus allow for completely new approaches of design. These Brasilian Fire Opals today provide afresh accent in the fascinating world of gemstones.Mexico has the most important locations of Fire Opal in the world. The Mexican plateau with its many extinct volcanoes is threaded and veined with opaline rock. With only few exceptions the gemstone is hidden in niches and caves and is mined above the surface, so that in the areas of occurrence you will come across canyons with walls rising up to heights of up to 60 meters, and labyrinthine routes carved into the mountains.
The Mexican Fire Opal is named for its brilliant red to orange body color which is partly due to iron oxide. Mined in Mexico, this opal is lighter weight than other opal. These Mexican Fire Opals tend to have one body color and do not usually contain the flashes of light and color typical of other opals. Mexican fire opal is the only natural opal that is normally faceted. Light and Dark Mexican Fire Opal varies from a bright orange to a reddish orange and is brilliant cut with precise calibration.
History: The Aztec Indians of Mexico were among the first to know about this fiery gem. Europeans learned about Mexican fire opals when the Spanish conquistadors returned from the New World with this brilliant gem. Mohs hardness: 5-6.5 – Refractive Index: 1.37 to 1.45 – Specific Gravity: 2.15. Information courtesy of Rio Grande Gems & Findings