The name opal is derived from the Sanskrit word "upala," as well as the Latin
"opalus," meaning "precious stone." This was probably also the root for the
Greek term “opallios”, which translates as “colour change”.
To ancient Romans, the opal was a symbol of love and hope an appropriate
attribute for a gem with a rainbow locked within it. Orientals called it the
"anchor of hope." Arabs say opals fell from the heavens in flashes of lightning,
thus acquiring their fiery colors.
Napoleon gave Josephine a beautiful opal with brilliant red flashes called "The
Burning of Troy," making her his Helen.
During the Medieval period, a change in color intensity of an opal was believed
to indicated if its wearer was ill or in good health.
In Elizabethan England, the opal was treasured for its beauty. Shakespeare wrote
of it in the Twelfth Night as the "queen of gems." Queen Victoria presented her
children with opal jewelry, thus making the stone very popular.