Queen of Gems

on . Posted in Famous Opal Lovers



Due to its exceptionality Opal has always been well represented in private collections around the globe.

The mysterious 'Queen of Gemstones' is synonymous with graceful power, beauty and rarity.


Elizabeth_Taylor_Opal_CleopatraNonius_Cleopatra_Antony_OpalPliny the Elder tells the story of how Nonius (a Senator of the Roman Republic), owned a fabulous Opal known throughout the civilised world of his day. The stone was set in a ring, it is said to have been the size and shape of a hazelnut.

Roman General and Triumvir Mark Antony was so entranced by the moving lights within Nonius' stone his fascination led him to covet the stone which he sought as a gift for his lover Goddess-Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt (30-69BC).

Antony offered Nonius several times the 2,000,000 Sesterces at which the Opal ring had been appraised, perhaps even the price of a villa on one of the seven hills of Rome in 35BC. Nonius refused to sell it, declaring it was his life. Mark Antony made him an offer he could not refuse and proscribed the Senator. Nonius preferred to be banished from Rome losing all he owned, leaving behind his wife and family, though fleeing with his most highly prized possession.

Why would a man like Mark Antony make so much trouble over an Opal?

To set the scene one must go back further to 42 BC; Antony summoned Cleopatra to a meeting in Tarsus, present-day Turkey, so she could explain why Egypt had not supported him in the Roman civil war against Caesar’s murderers.

Now that her lover and supporter Julius Caesar was dead, Cleopatra needed Mark Antony’s approval and she set about getting it the way she knew best: with a meticulously planned seduction. She sailed towards him up the Cydnus River in a scented, candlelit golden barge with purple sails, whereupon she invited him to dinner.

He found the preparations made to receive him magnificent beyond words, but what astonished him most was the extraordinary number of lights…So many of these, it is said, were let down from the roof and displayed on all sides at once, and they were arranged and grouped in such ingenious patterns in relation to each other, some in squares and some in circles, that they created as brilliant a spectacle as can ever have been devised to delight the eye. - Plutarch

An eleven year love affair ensued, which became all consuming and fired the lovers with the ambition to create a new world order. They were the ancient world’s most famous celebrity couple.

Therein lies the reason Antony wanted the Senator’s Opal more than any of the innumerable treasures in Rome - it reminded him of the atmosphere in which his mind and body were fatefully seduced – the fiery Opal made light dance in ingeniously mesmerizing patterns around its emboldened beholder.

Why would a respected Senator of the Roman Republic give up all his worldly possessions bar one?

Unlike an animal whose instinct would cause it to bite off a limb in order to free itself from the hunters trap and the danger of death.

Such is the fatal attraction of Opal that men lose all reason when seduced by her charms!


Sue-White opals29 June 2013
Dear Rainbow Serpent,
Thank you for your email and membership.
It is great to know that you are out there promoting Australia's National gemstone & NSW emblem.
Keep up the good work, I love your concept.
Sue White - Orana Glitz & Glamour Extravaganza Inc Assn.

15 march 2013
Hi Peter,
Colourful characters are key,
your Facebook page and the photos look like there are some fantastic people!
We loved the look of Tarzan of Opalton.
Gemma Brady - Boundless productions.tv

Alexander fink.PhysicsPHD opal28 Nov 2012
I would like to welcome your information page on opal,
with detailed information about nearly everything their is to know in a general term.
Alexander Fink PhD - Dept. of Physics La Trobe University

5 August 2010
Hi from another opal lover.
Just wanted to say I love your site, a wealth of information.
I always send people to your page for opal info.
Kind Regards
Sean Tapner - Planet Opal

8 july 2010
Dear Rainbow Serpent,
Will be recommending your website as a primary reference to 15 Macquarie Uni media students who will be doing a PR project for us as part of their assessment soon.
Best wishes
Renata - Opalminded

Opalminded recommend opalsinformation6 June 2010
Dear Rainbow Serpent, 
Greetings from Opal Minded In Sydney.
We are all very impressed with your website – one of the best things that has happened to this Industry for a long time. 
We would love to share it with the visitors to our website. 
Would you mind If we post with us links to your website, 
also on our facebook and twitter. 
Best wishes
Renata, John, Nelly, Fabrice and Summer

Fri, Apr 16, 2010 
Good Morning,
I have just found your wonderful website.
I produce a monthly e-newsletter which is circulated to the Tourism businesses in Coober Pedy and neighbouring stations plus the Info Centres around SA & the NT.
I wondered if I could use some of your Opal info in my October Edition (Opal Month), mainly the parts in your “About Opal” section – names, spiritual info etc.
I would obviously reference it to your website noting the address so others could read your site. 
Sandra Harris
Tourism Officer - Coober Pedy Information Centre

5 April 2010
I am wanting to use your site in an assignment as it is a superb example
of a site to use for a primary teaching unit on gemstones.
Many thanks,