Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Fall-ing for Opals

It’s almost the month of tourmalines and opals! To some, however, the opal remains to this day a bad omen…not so, say we here at the Eve Alfille Gallery & Studio! But rather than defending this ourselves, why not let the author of “The Curious Lore of Precious Stones” himself, George F. Kunz, do the explaining?
opal
“Le radeau de la meduse” opal pin by Eve J. Alfille. Photo Credit: Matt Arden.
“There can be little doubt that much of the modern superstition regarding the supposed unlucky quality of the opal owes its origin to a careless reading of Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Anne of Geierstein. The wonderful tale therein related of the Lady Hermione, a sort of enchanted princess, who came no one knew whence and always wore a dazzling opal in her hair, contains nothing to indicate that Scott really meant to represent the opal as unlucky. […] when a few drops of holy water were sprinkled over it, they quenched its radiance. Hermione fell into a swoon, was carried to her chamber, and the next day nothing but a small heap of ashes remained on the bed whereon she had been laid. The spell was broken and the enchantment dissolved. All that can have determined the selection of the opal rather than any other precious stone is the fact of its wonderful play of color and its sensitiveness to moisture.”
– George Frederick Kunz, “The Curious Lore of Precious Stones”
hermione
Engraved Portrait of Lady Hermione in her famous opals by W.H. Mote
In fact, in the novel, Hermione is described as quite a knockout! Perhaps rather than thinking of her opals as bad omens, we should be taking notes…
‘The silver lamp was extinguished, or removed from its pedestal, where stood in place of it a most beautiful female figure in the Persian costume, in which the color of pink predominated. But she wore no turban or head-dress of any kind, saving a blue ribbon drawn through her auburn hair, and secured by a gold clasp, the outer side of which was ornamented by a superb opal […]. The little lady’s countenance was of a lively and expressive character, in which spirit and wit seemed to predominate; and the quick dark eye, with its beautifully formed eyebrow, seemed to presage the arch remark, to which the rosy and half smiling lip appeared ready to give utterance.’
-Sir Walter Scott, “Anne of Geierstein”
…And after reading the book, if your October-birthday baby is still skeptical, well…maybe stick to tourmalines!
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