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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History


Opal from Peru
Photo by Ken Larsen. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G11454-00
Locality Peru

Gift of La Rosada Mine in 2012.

There are two types of opal: precious opal, which is opal with play-of-color, and common opal, which is opaque to translucent opal without play-of-color. Play-of-color is the optical phenomenon that precious opal can exhibit, seen as brilliant flashes of spectral colors “floating” within the gem. Common opal can be found in many varieties and in many localities in shades of white, blue, pink, yellow, green, brown, grey and even colorless. Pink opal is a variety of common opal from Peru, mainly found in the Andes Mountains and referred to as Peruvian opal or Andean opal. It is typically a beautiful opaque milky-pink color, as seen here in the four cabochon gems. However, it can range in color from very pale pink to a medium rose. Trace amounts of included organic compounds called quinones give rise to the pink color of Peruvian opals. The pink opals pictured here are from the La Rosda Mine, in Ica, Peru.


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