ROMANCE, HISTORY & LORE
True to its name, this gemstone was borne from fire.
Formed in the depths of ancient volcanoes, fire opal is created when water seeps into silica-rich lava, filling its seams and hollows. Under this incredible heat and pressure, the lava traps water within itself, forming these magical, sun-bright droplets. The fire opal was prized by Mayan and Aztec peoples, who called it “quetzalitzlipyollitli” or, “the stone of the bird of paradise.”
Fire opal has long been regarded as giving its wearer confidence, energy, and joy.
Fire opal is mined in the Mexican states of Queretaro, Hidalgo, Guerrero, Michoacan, Julisio, Chihuahua and San Luis Potosi. The most significant deposits were discovered in Queretaro in 1835, and are still producing today. Small quantities of this gem can also be found in Oregon and British Columbia.
SELECTING A STONE
The most prized fire opal is both crystal clear and intensely bright.
The blazing red-orange of this gem is the perfect accent to earth tones, and also pairs well with bright hues.
Unlike most opal, fire opal is often faceted, which allows the stone to sparkle with brilliance as well as display its trademark sunburst.
Due to its clarity and brightness, fire opal is especially well-suited for earrings, where even small stones add a striking pop of color.
Because of its softness, fire opal should be set in a protective mounting, especially when fashioned into delicate marquise or pear cuts.
Like all opal, fire opal has a high water content. As a result, it should be protected from intense heat and prolonged exposure to strong light, which could dry the gem out.
For safe cleaning, wash fire opal pieces in a solution of mild dish soap and warm water, using a soft brush to scrub behind the stone where dust can collect. Like all fine jewelry, fire opal should be removed before sleeping.