Precious Opal - Lightning Ridge so why the name?
It is said to have come about in the 1870’s when the bodies of a farmer, his dog, and 200 sheep, were found by strangers. The bodies were charred and the strangers concluded they had been struck by lightning. Perhaps a tale… like the tale of Alfonzo XII of Spain and the cursed Opal Ring.
Alfonzo loved the Comtesse de Castiglione and promised to make her his Queen, but he married another of the same royal blood, Princess Mercedes de Orleans. Although her hatred was immeasurable, to show there were no hard feelings the Comtesse, gifted a beautiful opal ring to Alfonzo who gave it to his Queen. Mercedes died two months later. Alfonzo presented the ring to his grandmother Queen Christina, she died. Some people just don’t know when the lesson is over. Alfonzo gave the ring to his sister, Infanta Maria del Pilar, and in just a couple of days guess what? Then to his sister-in-law. DEAD! And finally Alfonzo puts the fated ring on his own hand. Really, mate?. Now would you really be that stupid? Alfonzo dies with-in a month. Is this stupidity the curse of the ‘Opal Ring’, or stupidity caused by so much Royal Family interbreeding.
Precious Opals are regarded as the National Gemstone of this Great Country. A country that is arid, desolate, forested, vast, rich and like no other place on the planet and that is also like everywhere else, currently in the grip of Covid 19.
So what are these magnificent gemstones? They are probably the second least complex stone after a diamond, that is comprised solely of carbon. As water runs through the earth it picks up silica from sandstone and carries this liquid silica solution into cracks and voids left by decaying fossils and natural faults. The water evaporates, and the cycle repeats and over long periods of time Opal is formed. The water content in opal can be from 3% to as high as 21%, but usually between 6% and 10%. Because of the formation process is why opal can take the form of bones, wood and shells. Oh bugger, I’ve just had the realisation this is going to have to be another three part article.