Fire opal is a variety of the mineral opal, that is red, orange or yellow in color. Its transparency and clarity vary, as well as the specific nuance and saturation of its color, and those are some of the factors that define fire opal's value. Additionally, red fire opal's price is typically higher than the price of yellow specimens.
Fire opal is prone to damage from everyday wear, due to its low hardness on Mohs scale - around 6 to 6.5. It is brittle and scratches easily, which is why it needs to be handled with particular care, and is best used in earrings or pendants (instead of on rings, for example).
Fire opal can be cut in a number of different ways - sometimes specimens are faceted, while in other instances they might be cut in the form of cabuchons.
Fire opal is not to be confused with precious opal, which is another opal variety. Sometimes fire opals exhibit a quality called "play-of-color", where different colors flash and change with movement under light. The play-of-color is one of the properties that define precious opals as such, and when fire opals demonstrate it, they're sometimes referred to as "precious fire opals". This characteristic increases the fire opal's value.
Fire opals are mined in Mexico, Australia, Brazil, Honduras and the States.
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