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In the writings of the ancient Greek Philosopher Pliny the elder is the first documentation of the opal gemstone more than 2000 years ago. Ancient legend and lore involving Roman Emperors and Egyptian Pharaohs reflect at that time opal was the most prized and highly valued of all gems.

After experiencing top gem quality opal from the opal fields of Australia you can certainly see what inspired Pliny to write so vividly and gloriously about opal’s play of color and magical appearance.

Since Australian opal wasn’t discovered until 2000 years after Pliny’s writings and associated lore and legend it has always been speculation as to the source of these beautiful opal gems. The only known possible source would have been the opal coming from eastern Europe, the Hungarian opal. The problem with this idea was that the opal from these opal fields was only known to be lackluster in terms of its performance and display of what the Australian opal does so well, the phenomenal effect opal has with light producing play of color. For the most part the Hungarian opal was an opaque snowy white color with very little actual play of color display. It was not highly valued and used mainly as a coming of age gift for young women in 17th and 18th century England representing purity because of its pure white color.

Then, a little after the turn of the 21st century a nomadic herdsman appeared at an Ethiopian Government office in the capital city Addis Ababa and displayed a brilliant opal specimen he had found wanting to know what it was. That was the discovery of the spectacular Wollo district Ethiopian opal that displayed play of color with a vividness and intensity rivaling the very finest Australian opal.

From this point on it is agreed by everyone in the trade and who has documented opal’s history that this opal from the Wollo district of Ethiopia was the source for the opal that the Roman emperor Mark Antony and the Egyptian Pharaoh Cleopatra sought after as the most highly valued gem in the world.

Today, this opal from Ethiopia has overtaken the market displacing the century long supremacy position commanded by the Australian opal.

The mystery of why this opal disappeared from human history and knowledge for the intervening 2000 years still exists but it is obvious that this is the material so gloriously described by Pliny and known as Cleopatra’s favorite gem coming from within her own kingdom.

See this phenomenal opal at Opal Fields in Honolulu and experience for yourself their display of intense and vivid colors that captured the passion and romance of these ancient people.