We LOVE Peruvian opal. Also known as Andean opal, it is relatively rare and it seems to be getting harder to locate fine Peruvian opal beads by the day! This beautiful blue (and sometimes pink) stone is only found in the Andes mountains near San Patricio, Peru.* Opal was formed many millions of years ago, when a combination of silica and water flowed into cracks and spaces in the ground. This then gradually hardened and solidified to become opal. It is a stone which contains water; this makes them soft, so they can easily be cracked or chipped.
Peruvian opal is a very translucent stone with a gorgeous, soft blue color -- similar to the Caribbean Sea. Depending on how the stone is cut, it can be clear, scenic (showing varying degrees of color), or dendritic** which has black fern-like inclusions. It is the national stone of Peru, and it has quite interesting folklore/legend associated with it. Some say that the blue version of this precious stone takes the tension out of communication and helps ideas flow freely. There is also a belief that it softens the impact of stress from the outside world, releases trauma of old wounds, and facilitates facing the future with a tranquil nature.
The pink version of Peruvian opal is equally divine; it derives color from trace amounts of included organic compounds known as quinones. These opals range from opaque to translucent, and depending on how the stone is cut, the color will either be clear or show the stone's matrix and inclusions. (As with the blue stones, some pink Peruvian opals show the fern-like dendritic inclusions.) Folklore portrays the pink Peruvian opal as a stone of love and gentleness, bringing kindness to both romantic relationships and relationships of other kinds. As with other opals, it is also said to bring inspiration, imagination and creativity. Some believe it can even help release inhibitions and bring happy dreams.
Even if you don't believe in 'magical powers' of stones, I can personally testify that simply looking at these stones has a 'softening' effect on me! That is probably just the same effect any incredibly beautiful thing would have -- the eyes adore it, and there is a feeling of reverence while viewing it.
We intend to keep acquiring and selling these beautiful stones as long as we can find them. We have a Pinterest Board called 'Peruvian Opals to Die For' -- here (of course we hope you'll follow it):
We (and others!) love to visit it often to see what gem collectors and jewelry designers have come up with. Check out just one of our lovely samples here on the web site under our 'Bead of the Week' column. And you can be sure -- these aren't the last! We will have more!
p.s. Here's a link to the incredible artist who made the Peruvian Opal earrings to the right: http://patriciareinkingdesigns.artspan.com/large-multi-view/%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20Previous%20work%20Earrings/1930087-1-165481/%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20Previous%20work%20Earrings.html#.U9rpzGd0zIU
(Patricia Reinking Designs)
Until next time,
p.s. Some Footnotes:
*We've been told the LAST place to look for Peruvian opal these days is Peru; our experts at the Tucson Gem & Mineral show say it's all been 'mined out' and is now all in other hands. Whose hands? We are still trying to crack that nut! Even our favorite, reliable old sources say they have not been able to acquire any at all for the past year.
**'Dendrites', a Greek word for 'tree-like', are inclusions that appear organic due to their plant-like structure, but they are actually inorganic traces of iron or manganese. The iron and manganese ions gain access to the forming stone as weathering solutions from neighboring rock. The impurities crystallize inside the stone in branching formations, seeping through fine surface fractures.