Gaius Plinius Secundus (23 AD – August 25, 79 AD) known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author and naturalist. Pliny noted in his writings regarding the gemstone opal, ”In opal you will see red fire, the glorious purple of amethyst, and the sea green of the emerald, and all these colors glittering together in incredible union.”
The aboriginal name Coober Pedy in southern Australia means ‘a man in a hole’ —which is exactly how the miners extract opal. The summer temperature is unbearably hot, so the miners build their homes in underground excavations on a hillside.The fragile, white opal may crack when brought up from the cool depths of the earth into the hot and arid temperatures. Opals are brittle, easily chipped and scratched. The hardness of the opal varieties varies from 5.5 to 6.5 on Moh’s scale. If exposed to high temperatures they may crack or craze. The fragility of the stone makes it challenging to cut and polish, adding to its desirability.
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Photo and some information credit: Getty Images, Alexander Deleuse.
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