Becky Pearce Designs

Handmade ContemporaryJewellery in Silver & Gold

Why are opals said to be unlucky?

Birthstones, Useful informationBecky Pearce

I love the symbolism behind the different gemstones. I’ll be honest, I’m a bit of a history nerd and find the fokelore and history behind the different gems absolutely fascinating.

One idea that people have told me over the years that you shouldn’t wear opal if it’s not your birthstone, as it’s unlucky. But since ancient times opals have been considered a lucky stone; seen as second only to emerald as the stone of the kings. So how did their reputation change so dramatically?

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It came about in 1829 because of a novel written by Sir Walter Scott. In this book, “Anne of Geiersteen”. In this story, a character called Lady Hermione wore a golden clasp with an opal in her hair. This opal had a fire in it which appeared to change to reflect her mood. On the day of her daughter’s christening some holy water accidentally splashed onto the opal which “shot out a brilliant spark like a falling star” and became instantly as colourless as a common pebble. A few hours later all that remained of Lady Hermione was a handful of ashes.

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Gemstone cutters of the time were apparently quite pleased to promote the idea that opals were unlucky as they can be tricky to cut, and easily damaged in preparation.

So the fortune of this lucky stone was reversed because of a character in one novel 200 years ago.

Thankfully opals are well and truly having a revival, which is lucky for me as I love using them in my jewellery. I probably wouldn’t open an umbrella in doors, or purposefully walk under a ladder if I could help it, but I’m very very happy to wear all the opals!