The Lure of the Mexican Fire Opal
Precious opal contains a wonderful diffraction grating. The more beautiful a fire opal is, the more valuable it has.
The word “opal” is derived from the ancient Sanskrit “upala”, meaning “precious stone”. Fire Opal – a panoply of captured light refracting endlessly off the surfaces of billions of microscopic spheres; full of water, yet ablaze with internal fire; a precious gem , yet not a crystal: in short, a paradox. The play of colour, or “FIRE”, within the stone arises from the phenomenon physicists call diffraction: something breaks up white light into all the colours of the rainbow, spreading them out as if for the pleasure of the human eye.
Precious opal contains a wonderful diffraction grating, formed by the line-up of ultra-microscopically tiny but uniformly sized spheres of silica. The net effects of this array is a three-dimensional diffraction grading, resulting in a spectacular display of spectral colours. If the little spheres are all quite uniform in size and have settled very slowly so as to form a very perfect array, then the colours are the most spectacular known in the gem world.
While opal is not a very soft stone ( it’s hardness is from 5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale – harder than turquoise, malachite and lapis) , it will scratch with wear and some care must be taken with it. Opal may crack if subjected to a hard hit. However, an opal that is properly set will last several lifetimes . A well-set opal is nestled down into its setting with gold protecting its thin bottom edge. It should never be set in prongs like a diamond.
The more beautiful an opal is, the more valuable it is. Beauty is enhanced by brighter fire , fire in many colours (especially red) , and a clear or dark base color for the fire to play off . The best black opals with red fire can have a retail price of US$20,000 or more per carat. This makes them more valuable than most diamonds.
Opals occur worldwide in primarily volcanic areas where the eruptions of time gone by, caused water to be suddenly trapped within the silica base . The primary producing areas are to be found in Australia although good fire opal occurs in limited quanitities in certain areas of Mexico. The Mexican material is more translucent and jelly like compared to the Australian material . The best Mexican material shows an excellent play of colour. It appears like ice that is thawing – having a luminous lustre and the surface looks like it is dripping.
The MEXICO OPALOS CORPORATION , based in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, owns an operates a small mining operation within the Mexican interior . In addition, we purchase select opals from sources across Mexico . We cut the rough material here in Mexico to the highest international standards with excellent finishes showing off the stones best potential . Most opals are polished into an oval dome-shaped finished form called a “cabochon” or “cab”. Some material is faceted in the same way diamonds are cut for example, but the majority of material is cabbed as this form of cutting tends to show off the stones better.
To an extent, opal is an unstable stone due to the trapped water within its structure. It is therefore exceptionally important that you purchase opals from a reputable dealer who is willing to put his name or guarantee behind the opals. Unstable opals may change colour overnight or crack badly. This is why the MEXICO OPALOS CORPORATION guarantees all opals that we ship to you – we want our customers to be 100 % satisfied to ensure good future business . If you are not happy with our stones, we urge you to return them to us and we will refund your money to you. Our rough and cut material is carefully inspected for cracks or colour changes and is “aged” for several months before we ship it to you.
The MEXICO OPALOS CORPORATION is able to bring you Mexico Fire Opals at wholesale prices due to our location and the fact that we deal directly with mine-owners and also own a small mine here in Mexico. In addition , due to the collapse of the Peso against the dollar, prices are far more reasonable than our Australian counterparts . With reasonable stability now in Mexico and an economic upturn forecast as well as a general worldwide scarcity and increased demand for opals, we expect prices to increase above the rates of return for fixed income securities and stocks in the States. Opals are therefore an excellent investment and hedge against inflation.