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Quotations about Opals


Welcome to the Web's first page of quotations about opal. As a daughter of October, this is my birthstone. Opals are so beautiful, and if you've found your way to this page then you likely agree. Enjoy the quotes!  —ღ Terri

...this wondrous gem
Looks as though some strange influence it had won
From the bright skies — for every rainbow hue
Shoots quivering through its depths in changeful gleams,
Like the mild lightnings of a summer eve.
~Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington, 1836

It was the most wonderful opal in the world, big as a blackberry, shooting red and blue fire worse than Fourth of July. ~Marion Hill, "Just Like That," 1909

"Do you notice mamma's great opal?"
"Yes," said he, "a pearl with a soul in it."
~Mary Elizabeth Wilson Sherwood, "Good-by, Proud World," in Appletons' Journal, 1878

You are ice and fire...
You are cold and flame.
You are the crimson of amaryllis,
The silver of moon-touched magnolias.
When I am with you,
My heart is a frozen pond
Gleaming with agitated torches.
~Amy Lowell, "Opal," Pictures of the Floating World, 1919

My soul is like this cloudy, flaming opal ring.
The fields of earth are in it, green and glimmering,
The waves of the blue sky, night's purple flower of noon,
The vanishing cold scintillations of the moon,
And the red heart that is a flame within a flame...
~Arthur Symons (1865–1945), "Opals"

The opal resembles a fraction of the rainbow softened by a milky cloud. ~Charles Blanc, Art in Ornament and Dress, 1875, translated from French

It might be that a seraph's wing
Had swept along the moistened air,
And left its mingled hues to cling
And beam, a glittering circlet there.
~Rosa Vertuer Johnson, "A Legend of the Opal," Poems, 1857

A rose of fire shut in a veil of snow;
An April gleam athwart a misted sky:
A jewel — a soul! Gaze deep if thou wouldst know...
~Ednah Proctor Clarke, "An Opal," 1894

The angel's teardrop crystallized
With a rainbow's countless rays.
~Rosa Vertuer Johnson, "A Legend of the Opal," Poems, 1857  [a little altered —tg]

A dewdrop came, with a spark of flame
      He had caught from the sun's last ray,
To a violet's breast, where he lay at rest
      Till the hours brought back the day.
The rose looked down, with a blush and frown;
      But she smiled all at once, to view
Her own bright form, with its coloring warm,
      Reflected back by the dew.
Then the stranger took a stolen look
      At the sky, so soft and blue;
And a leaflet green, with its silver sheen,
      Was seen by the idler too.
A cold north wind, as he thus reclined,
      Of a sudden raged around;
And a maiden fair, who was walking there,
      Next morning, an opal found.
~Anonymous, c. 1855

Diamonds might vary in terms of clarity, colour, size, and shape, but fundamentally they are all the same material (carbon) and the good ones all do the same thing (sparkle). The same uniformity of appeal is found in most other gemstones. But opals are a little different. In precious opals there might be a dash of red here, a seductive swirl of blue there, and in the centre, perhaps, a flirtatious glance of green. But each stone flickers with a unique fire and a good opal is one with an opinion of its own. ~Victoria Finlay, Buried Treasure: Travels Through the Jewel Box, 2006

Opal a pool of changeling fires... ~Humbert Wolfe, "Opals and Amber," Shylock Reasons with Mr. Chesterton and Other Poems, 1920

Mysterious opals contain the wonders of the skies — sparkling rainbows, fireworks and lightning, shifting and moving in their depths. ~Author unknown

"Opals grow pale at the approach of danger," said Madge.
"I don't know who does not," said St. John.
~Mary Elizabeth Wilson Sherwood, "Good-by, Proud World," in Appletons' Journal, 1878

Those ruddy flashes 'neath a bluish cloud,
Are like bright campfires through the mist aglow...
~Anne Cleveland Cheney, "The Opal," By the Sea and Other Poems, 1911

It is of a subtle vinous tinge, and its hue is as though pure white snow flashed and sparkled with the color of bright, ruddy wine, and was overcome by this radiance. ~Albertus Magnus, 13th century

      No other gem can compare for an instant with the opal in its depth of colour, in its infinite variety, and in that changing mystery of loveliness, the secret of which it so sedulously guards. Those glorious lights, one must realise, are not the ordinary hues of the diamond and prism, but far softer and deeper tones which burn and glow with steady flame, that quiver and ripple and palpitate and vanish in an instant and gleam again in never-ending surprises of form and colour — meteoric shafts and pulsing star-glints and broad joyous flashes.
      The diamond is wonderfully pure, and, as a companion for every other gem, incomparable. It is a kind of guardian angel with a flaming sword, but it does not quite speak to us and set our own lamps burning. Is not its brilliance just a trifle cold, its fire an intellectual fire, searching and a little merciless? But the tones of the opal are homelights, warm and tender.
      The pearl again is wonderfully soft and pure — a perfect thing — and those of the "rosy" tint are as warm and divinely toned as their destined home — but where is the "infinite variety" of the pearl? The pearl has infinite sameness.
      The pearl and the diamond will hold their places for ever, one can be sure of that, but I claim that the opal will draw up beside them to form a lovely trinity. Together they embrace all colours and every shade and tone of them, and every degree of brilliance and softness — from the steely flash of a bayonet to the velvet bloom on a crimson rose petal. Opals for very many will always stand high and clear above all other precious stones. Ever since the days of my northern trek in my youth, I have never needed to "chase rainbows," for I've always had one in my pocket. ~T. C. Wollaston, "Opal: A Gem of the Future," Opal: The Gem of the Never Never, 1924  [a little altered —tg]

The hues of the opal, the light of the diamond, are not to be seen, if the eye is too near. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Friendship," 1841

So many fancies kindle at thy flame,
Strange gem, possessing beauties manifold,
Now all ablaze, and now so wan and cold,
Like to a woman, seldom twice the same...
~Anne Cleveland Cheney, "The Opal," By the Sea and Other Poems, 1911

Pale as a pearl the morning lay
In cloud diaphanous and gray;
While slow the smothered sun goes by
A smouldering opal in the sky.
Faint color in the wood he throws
Like scattered petals of a rose;
And lays by every stem a hue
Most sagely, delicately blue.
~Philip Henry Savage (1868–1899), "Opal," Poems, 1898

There are worlds in an opal. ~Terri Guillemets

The Sunbeam loved the Moonbeam,
      And followed her low and high,
      But the Moonbeam fled and hid her head,
      She was so shy — so shy.
The Sunbeam wooed with passion;
      Ah, he was a lover bold!
      And his heart was afire with mad desire
      For the Moonbeam pale and cold...
Just as the day lay panting
      In the arms of the twilight dim,
      The Sunbeam caught the one he sought
      And drew her close to him...
And lo! the beautiful Opal—
      That rare and wondrous gem—
      Where the moon and the sun blend into one,
      Is the child that was born to them.
~Ella Wheeler Wilcox, "The Birth of the Opal," 1889

He loved the red gold of the sunstone, and the moonstone's pearly whiteness, and the broken rainbow of the milky opal. ~Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890

I think a really fine opal the most beautiful stone in the world. ~Rosa Murray-Prior Praed (1851–1935), Christina Chard, 1894

...a magnificent fire opal ring, with superb diamond setting, flashed out from its nest of rose-coloured cotton, like a condensed rainbow, circled with sunbeams. ~Sarah Warner Brooks, "My Fire Opal," 1896 diamond truth in opal poetry set... ~W. T. Washburn, "The Vow," Poems, 1878

Opal is the multi-gem. ~Terri Guillemets

Gem with the lambent hues,
That through thee move and shine,
What pencil e'er shall use
Such living tints as thine—
The ruby, azure, gold, and green...
~Hannah F. Gould, "The Opal," c.1845

There is in them a softer fire than the ruby, there is the brilliant purple of the amethyst, and the sea green of the emerald — all shining together in incredible union. Some by their splendor rival the colors of the painters, others the flame of burning sulphur or of fire quickened by oil. ~Pliny the Elder (23–79 CE)

October's stone is the opal, a gem which possesses wonderful and aptly varied play of color, suggesting the glories of a bright fall day in the country... It is full of light and beauty... This stone is the symbol of hope... ~Harriet Keith Fobes, Mystic Gems, 1924

Entirely common and vulgar compared with these, yet to be noticed as completing the crystalline or vitreous system, we have the colours of gems. The green of the emerald is the best of these; but at its best is as vulgar as house-painting beside the green of bird's plumage or of clear water. No diamond shows colour so pure as a dewdrop; the ruby is like the pink of an ill-dyed and half-washed-out print, compared to the dianthus; and the carbuncle is usually quite dead unless set with a foil, and even then is not prettier than the seed of a pomegranate. The opal is, however, an exception. When pure and uncut in its native rock, it presents the most lovely colours that can be seen in the world, except those of clouds. ~John Ruskin, "Colour," 1870

In shadows brown I saw an opal lie,
      Sombre as April sky,
When far the sun supreme his light has hid,
      The ashen clouds amid.
Gently I moved it where the sunbeam's play
      Caressed its face of gray,
And lo! within the seeming-sterile gloom
      A red rose burst to bloom.
Then emerald, crimson, violet—all rich dyes
      That stain the evening skies,
Upon the jewel's magic mirror came
      In trembling maze of flame.
~Sister Mary Blanche (Elizabeth King, b.1852), "The Opal," Poems, 1913

I have opals that burn always, with a flame that is cold as ice, opals that make sad men's minds, and are afraid of the shadows. ~Oscar Wilde, "Salomé," 1891

      Presently, Duke lifted an abalone shell from the porch rail and called her attention to its beauty. Together, they traced the milk and fire that blended like changing glory in the heart of an opal. "Look at the lavender, the blue, the sea-foam green, the amethyst, purple, gold, jasper, ruby! It's all there, isn't it?" he cried. "But it was hidden until Sam told you to boil it in ashes, and polishing it with emery and oil!"
      "Like me!" Beth answered. "Aunt Miriam says I need polishing." ~Daniel Frederick Fox, The Vindication of Robert Creighton: A Tale of the Southwest, 1921

October... is the opal month of the year... when the summer, with all its fulness of innate beauty, has gone through its course, and is about to die, it knows how to break out with more gorgeous beauty, and die with more glory on its head than it had in its positive freshness and vernal beauty. ~Henry Ward Beecher, "Back Again," 1869

Some of the days in November carry the whole memory of summer as a fire opal carries the color of moonrise. These are the days I especially love, when the air lies soft and quiet over the dreaming earth; it is a reflective and thoughtful time. ~Gladys Taber, "November," Stillmeadow Daybook, 1955

Let the days be steeped in color and perfume and music and loveliness; let them glow with all the fire of the opal, and reflect in their many-faceted hours a thousand charms and visions of beauty. ~Lilian Whiting (1847–1942), "Vibrations: Redemptive Social Agencies," The World Beautiful: Second Series, 1896

...the sun, rising higher and striking its arrows aslant the pearly vapours, awoke all the colours which burn in the heart of an opal... ~Dorothy Nevile Lees, "A Tuscan Fair," Tuscan Feasts and Tuscan Friends, 1907

White snow and silver water, faint ghosts of ships and trees and spires through the mists, deeps of chrysoprase and shallows of amethyst, and beyond the snow a sunset fire like the dream in the heart of an opal. ~Elizabeth Godfrey (Jessie Bedford), The Winding Road, 1902

That distant mountain seemed a cloud
Or like a melting opal rather,
With such a gracious light endowed,
That lingering October weather.
~Harriet McEwen Kimball (1834–1917), "The Lingering October Weather," Poems, 1889

October's child is born for woe,
And life's vicissitudes must know,
But lay an Opal on her breast,
And hope will lull those woes to rest.
~Author unknown, c. 1870

The sun was up when I awakened and the world was remade and shining. There are as many worlds as there are kinds of days, and as an opal changes its colors and its fire to match the nature of a day, so do I. The night fears and loneliness were so far gone that I could hardly remember them. ~John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America, 1962

I could feel my house, the old Hawley house, from half a block away. Last night it huddled in a web of gloom but this thunder-bordered eve it radiated excitement. A house, like an opal, takes on the colors of the day. ~John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent, 1961

To wake in that desert dawn was like waking in the heart of an opal. The mists lifting their heads out of the hollows, the dews floating in ghostly wreaths from the black tents, were shot through first with the faint glories of the eastern sky and then with the strong yellow rays of the risen sun. ~Gertrude Lowthian Bell, The Desert and the Sown, 1907

The sky was pure opal now, and the roofs of the houses glistened like silver against it. ~Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890

A diamond is a brilliant stone,
      To catch the world's desire;
An opal holds a fiery spark;
      But a flint holds fire.
~Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830–1894)

The heaven-hued sapphire and the opal blend
With objects manifold: each several stone,
With wit well blazon'd, smiled or made some moan.
~William Shakespeare, "A Lover’s Complaint," c. 1609

Now, the melancholy god protect thee; and the
tailor make thy doublet of changeable taffeta, for
thy mind is a very opal. I would have men of such
constancy put to sea, that their business might be
every thing and their intent every where; for that's
it that always makes a good voyage of nothing.
~William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, c. 1599

The scientists realized that the difference between precious and nonprecious opal lay not in the materials they were made of, but in how those materials were organised. In precious opal the glasslike molecules are stacked like billiard balls set out in neat rows, creating regular triangular gaps between them on the surface; ordinary opal is more like a disorganised school equipment locker... ~Victoria Finlay, Buried Treasure: Travels Through the Jewel Box, 2006

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published 2005 May 19
revised June 2021
last saved 2023 Dec 13