Black Opal and Queen Victoria

Sir Walter Scott | Black Opal
In 1829 “Anne of Geierstein” a best selling novel written by Sir Walter Scott served to destroy the European market for Opal. In his book Lady Hermione is falsely accused of being a demoness, is granted to have her life source linked to the red fire within an opal she wore about her neck.

“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, which, amid the changing lights peculiar to that gem, displayed, internally a slight tinge of red like a spark of fire.”

Anne of Geierstein | Black Opal
When a drop of holy water take the color from the stone, Scott writes that the lady’s life is taken from her also.

“As they passed the threshold, the Baron dipt his finger in the font stone, and offered holy−water to his lady, who accepted it, as usual, by touching his finger with her own. But then, as if to confute the calumnies of the malevolent lady of Steinfeldt, with an air of sportive familiarity which was rather unwarranted by the time and place, he flirted on her beautiful forehead a drop or two of the moisture which remained on his own hand. The opal, on which one of these drops had lighted, shot out a brilliant spark like a failing star, and became the instant afterwards lightless and colorless as a common pebble, while the beautiful Baroness sunk on the floor of the chapel with a deep sigh of pain.”

Queen Victoria | Black Opal
Prince Albert the royal consort of Queen Victoria had a passion for designing jewellery. He drew the pattern for a parure (set of jewellery) incorporating diamonds and Opal which was manufactured by Garrard and Co. This set included the Oriental Circlet tiara which was consequently gifted to his wife.

Queen Victoria loved opals and ignored the superstitions of the time. She wore them often and made numerous gifts of opal jewellery to family and other royalty. With the royal house being the centre of attention for fashion it did not take long for the fortunes of opal to turn.

As luck would have it the soaring demand for opal in Europe coincided with the findings of the first Black Opal in Lightning Ridge, Australia in 1877.

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