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White Opal Beads

White Opal derives its name from the Sanskrit word “upala," meaning “precious stone”. The chief producer of precious opal is Australia, where it was discovered in 1887. The mining town of Coober Pedy, located in the desert of South Australia, is known as the opal capital of the world. It gets so hot here during the day that most of the residents live in underground homes, many of which are abandoned opal mines! Small amounts of precious opal are also mined in India, New Zealand, and the western United States.

Our white opal beads are a translucent, milky white with the fabulous play of color, or “opalescence,” that makes precious opal so beautiful and unique.

Precious opal consists of tiny, transparent spheres of hardened silica gel with water in the intervening spaces. Unless the silica spheres are precisely arranged and of the correct size, there is no color play, which is caused by the diffraction of light through the spheres. This makes the occurrence of opal extremely rare. Additionally, this gemstone can only form in an undisturbed space within another rock that is capable of holding a clean solution of silica from which water is slowly removed over the course of thousands of years. All precious opal is probably relatively young in geological terms, since it cannot withstand the heat and pressure of being underground for millions of years.

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