Gemipedia - A to Z

Mex. Fire Opal

Orange Opal

The embers of a lapsing fire lay naturally awry on the ground, flickering a materialized vision of heat into the night. The mesmerizing vigor of their devil reds, canary yellows, and saffron oranges radiate in the wind, divulging the troves of energy they command so quietly. Mexican fire opal, with their glittering depths of impassioned colors, speaks justice to an open flame in ways that other materials cannot. Coveted by ancient civilizations and modern collectors alike, Mexican fire opal's warmly lit hues beam without apology into our hearts.


Mexican fire opal is the aptly-named amorphous, water-bearing form silica (SiO2·nH2O) that holds a red to yellow body color caused by traces of iron. A true gift of time, opals find their form over hundreds of years within antiquated water routes as microscopic layers of silica spheres settle atop one another. In some examples, Mexican fire opal can show precious play-of-color phenomenon. More often, it exhibits the sheer blanketing of brazen color synonymous with the name without the spectral addition. Mexican fire opals are often faceted, rather than formed en cabochon, in order to highlight the silky depth of its color and unique luster.

For hundred of years, ancient Mayans and Aztecs cherished the Mexican fire opals they would find near the slumbering volcanoes of their homelands. Known as “quetzalitzlipyollitli” to these indigenous peoples and used in rituals and adornment alike, today's translation is known as “the stone of the bird of paradise”. Along with these great civilization's decline, knowledge of Mexican fire opal was lost to history for a time and was only rediscovered to be linked with lore in the early 1800's. Though Mexico is home to the finest and historical examples, similar instances of fire opal can modernly found abroad in North America, Central America, Ethiopia, and Australia. 


Mexican fire opal ranges from 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, marking it as a softer gemstone that is best worn as earrings or in a necklace. When storing Mexican fire opals, one should take caution to avoid heat, arid conditions, and chemical contact as to avoid drying out the water content of the stone. Those delivered in October gain the choice of Mexican fire opals within their birthstone realm, while those born under the signs of Aquarius and Libra find fortune in it's presence. Naturally beautiful and infrequently treated, some samples of Mexican fire opal have been known to see smoke-treatment, filling, or cemented assembly. Emphasis on value is placed with opals that exhibit play-of-color, uniform base color, and a lack of cloudiness.





1.37 to 1.52


1.98 to 2.50

Gem DNA:

SiO2*nH2O Hydrous silicon dioxide

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