Can Opal Scratch Glass? Yes, but only barely.
In the article that follows, we’ll explain why it is that opal can scratch glass, as well as teach you more about this interesting specimen.
Can Opal Scratch Glass? (EXPLAINED)
Opal rates a five and a half to six on the Mohs Scale of Hardness.
Stones on the scale can just leave small scratches on glass.
The stone itself can be scratched with a blade and harder stones such as moonstone, zircon, peridot and tanzanite.
Opal may be only just as hard as glass, which often rates five and a half on the the Mohs scale, making it the perfect test of hardness, being right in the middle.
Some unusually strong glass may even be able to scratch opals!
The Wonder of the Opal
The opal stone is made up of hydrated silica.
Silica gel fills crevices in rock, water evaporates and the result is silica taking the form of tiny spheres.
The real beauty of the opal is the way the surface reflects light, creating thousands of tiny, sparkling rainbows.
Most gemstones are associated with just one color, but the opal is every color at once.
Because of the unique structure of the silica spheres, every opal is a singular individual.
The opal is a snowflake that never melts.
The History of the Opal
The opal is a stone that has been treasured since antiquity.
The Ancient Romans named it “opalus”, meaning “precious stone”.
The words “opulent” and “opus” closely related to the word “opal”.
The Roman scholar Pliny wrote about the glorious spectrum of colors reflected in the opal in 75 AD. In the Middle Ages, opal was thought to be lucky.
However, in 1829, Sir Walter Scott wrote a story called Anne of Geierstein that convinced people the opal was unlucky except for people born in the month of October.
In 1850, opal deposits were found in Australia, reviving popularity of the stone.
The largest and most valuable opal in the world is the “Olympic Australis”.
It came from Coober Pedy, Australia in 1956, coinciding with the Olympic Games in Melbourne.
This specimen was valued at $2.5 million in 200.
This particular opal measures eleven inches long and weighs 17,000 carats, roughly 7.6 pounds.
Where to Find Opals
Australia is, of course, the number one place to go to find opals.
Ethiopia, Brazil and Mexico are also good places to look.
If you are in America and looking for opals to add to your collection, try your luck in the west.
Places famous for great mountains and canyons like Nevada and Arizona may have some hidden treasures the gold prospectors missed.
Oregon has a few “fee mines” where you pay a little to dig for a day and anything you find is yours to keep.
Louisiana is known more for swamps than mountains, but here is where you can find the rare Louisiana Sand Opal.
Formed when sand grains bind together with clear opal and exposed to sun rays, this elusive phenomenon exhibits an illuminating iridescence of color in scintillating specks of purple, blue and green.
While Australia is clearly the opal capital of the world, some rare finds can be sought after in the Americas.
The celebrated opals of Australia form underneath sandstone in clay layers.
In most other parts of the world, opals can be found in places with a history of volcanic activity, even if it no longer experiences it.
Geothermal fluids are rich in the silica that makes up opals.
Look between layers of volcanic rock and sediment and you might be lucky enough to find a vein of iridescent sparkles.
The Symbolism Of Opals
Opals are the birthstone of October.
Though this covers both Libras and Scorpios, opals are more suited to the harmonious Libra.
The opal is associated with love, passion and other matters of the heart, much like the Venus ruled Libra.
It’s a stone that is thought to amplify positive emotions such as love, hope, loyalty, peace and self-awareness. It is also thought to dissipate anger and inhibition.
The unique nature of an opal make it a great symbol for originality.
You can meditate over an opal if you need creative inspiration or insight.
Though some believe the opal unlucky, the opal is often used to signify luck in lithomancy.
It may also be used to represent the moon, which is associated with spirituality, intuition and change.
Difference from Moonstones
Opals are very similar to moonstones.
Both are associated with emotion and intuition.
Both are known to be smooth textured with an iridescent sparkle on milky white, though opal sparkles just a bit brighter with more play of color.
Opals are slightly more delicate than moonstones, with moonstones rating a 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
How to Take Care of Your Opal
Is it a solid stone, a doublet or a triplet?
A solid opal is just as it would be found in nature, only maybe cut and polished.
A doublet is a slice of opal on a black backing to enhance the color.
A triplet is a doublet with a transparent layer on top to give it a rounder shape.
Doublets and triplets can get a little wet but must never be immersed.
A solid opal can actually take damage in zero humidity vaults.
At any rate, remember that opals are too delicate for rough conditions.
Opals should be cleaned with mild detergent, warm water and a soft cloth or toothbrush.
Do not use ultrasonic cleaners as the vibrations can be strong enough to damage opals.
An opal is a delicate stone that can just barely make small scratches in glass.
In spite of or maybe because of this delicateness, the opal is a beautiful and unique stone.
They are as singular as snowflakes, reflecting every color of the rainbow.
It is a treasured gem in any mineral collection.