How did the opal get its name?

How did the opal get its name?

Opals are brilliant, mysterious and colourful gemstones that have fascinated people for centuries. Originating from quartz-like species, these opals despite being transparent in most cases are still extremely unique thanks to their colour palette.

But where does the name opal actually come from? How long have people known about the existence of these beautiful gemstones? Let's find out together in this informative blog.

Where does the word "opal" find its origin?

The name opal comes from the Latin word "opalus" which in turn comes from the Greek word "opallios". Both these terms mean "changing colour" or "seeing change". This definition actually perfectly captures the opal's unique properties. . The history of opal thus begins in ancient Greece. This, of course, comes from a time when language and mythology were widely used together. It even seems that in the time of the ancient Greeks, they believed opals were formed from the tears of gods and titans. These would reach the earth and turn into a colourful opal.

What influence did the Romans have over the name?

During their expansion of knowledge and trade, the Roman Empire came into contact with opal or as they called it "opalus". They had adopted the Greek name and made a few minor changes in it. In their time, the Romans saw the opal as a stone that brought good luck and prosperity. The stone owed this to its beautiful colours, which were considered a combination of all precious stones. Thus, opal was associated with magic and prosperity in Roman times as well.

The opal during the Renaissance

Opals also came back into the spotlight during the Renaissance. Many artists and jewellers were fascinated by the opals' unprecedented colour patterns. This time, the name was changed to "opal" as we know it today. At this time, opal was mostly used in art and writing. Again, the opal was seen as a mysterious and mystical stone. In fact, opal was so sought-after at this time that royal members and other people of status were only too happy to wear this stone to show their wealth and status. Often these members and for what I have found even kings and queens were only too happy to be clad in this gemstone


The name "opal" comes with a rich history, anchored in ancient languages and myths. The opal owes this mainly to its beautiful colours and unique appearance. The opal, as you have read over the centuries, has an especially mystical and mysterious charm that was mostly associated with magic. We at consider it a unique opportunity to be able to learn about our past and of course share this with you. What we know for sure is that the opal will retain its enduring significance and appeal.

Leave a comment

*Uw e-mailadres wordt niet gepubliceerd

* Required fields

Compare products Delete all products

You can compare a maximum of 3 products

    Hide compare box
    Please accept cookies to help us improve this website Is this OK? YesNoMore on cookies »