The symbol of Napoleon’s love and passion is the mysterious “Burning Troy” opal

Opals have taken quite an interesting walk through history. Humanity felt a magnetic attraction to them. Interesting

Opals have taken quite an interesting walk through history. Humanity felt a magnetic attraction to them. Interestingly, diamonds have only recently been used in engagement rings since the 15th century. Until this time, opals were the cornerstone of jewelry. They were extremely prized and sought after by emperors, sultans, pharaohs and kings.

In this article we will talk about opal with a rather mysterious history. It involves Napoleon Bonaparte and Empress Josephine de Beauharnais - and the name of the mysterious opal is “Burning Troy”.

It is difficult, of course, to describe an opal that has not been seen for more than two hundred years, but it made such a strong impression that people tell stories about the beauty of the stone and keep the memory of it to this day.

I think this sample can roughly give the impression that Napoleon's opal made:

Troy was burned by the Achaeans

Johann Georg Trautmann. "The Fall of Troy"

The cause of that war, the echo of which lasts throughout the history of mankind, was a woman - Beautiful Elena...

Evelyn de Morgan (Pickering), 1898

Napoleon, in love, apparently associated his Josephine with Helen of Troy, who kindled the fire of war...

Born on June 23, 1763 in Martinique, where her family owned a sugar plantation, Josephine was a widow with two children when she met Napoleon. Six years younger than Josephine, he immediately fell under her spell and married her a few months later. The union lasted fourteen years, but Josephine was unable to produce an heir. This led to divorce. Napoleon married someone else, who gave him children. However, during Napoleon's exile to St. Helena, he admitted that it would be best for him to have a child with Josephine. And her name was the last thing he said on his deathbed.

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Let's return to the significant stone! Why is Napoleon's Burning Troy opal interesting from a gemological point of view?

From the descriptions of the stone it becomes clear that it is black opal.

But the famous Australian black opals had not yet been discovered, and the only European deposit yielded opals with a light background...

Plus, among black opals, stones with a flash of beauty are a rare find!

It’s you and me, in the age of the Internet, we can see the rarest stones in abundance, it may create a misleading impression of their availability, but this is not so. And in the time of Napoleon, finding an opal of this color, quality and size was absolutely fantastic...

So what is known about the mysterious Burning Troy opal?

  • Based on existing documentation, the Burning of Troy opal is reported to weigh at least 700 carats. There is even a report that says it weighs 3000 carats, although the authenticity of this report cannot be confirmed. Even “just” a 700 carat opal would be huge.
  • Unlike some of Napoleon's other gifts, the Burning of Troy was not considered spoils of war, although no one knows exactly where he got it from or how exactly.
  • After Josephine's death in 1814, the stone disappeared for almost 100 years. The most likely explanation is that it was given to one of Josephine's heirs, who hid it.
  • Before the outbreak of World War I, opal reappeared in Vienna. Some historians believe that at this time the city authorities purchased the stone from a seller whose name remains unknown. It is reported that at the end of the war, the Austrians were offered huge sums of money for the opal, but they refused, despite the value of these funds in their post-war depleted financial state. It was simply a treasure too big to pass up.
  • The Austrians owned the stone for more than 20 years, then World War II engulfed Europe, and the opal disappeared again without a trace, never to resurface.
  • This is one of the most talked about and sought after gemstones. Today no one (admittedly) knows where the Burning of Troy is.
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Jewelry with Australian opal

Where could the incredible black opal, sparkling with the scarlet fires of passion, come from at that time? Experts concluded that the stone could only have come from Honduras.

How Napoleon got a stone mined in Honduras we will no longer know, but I promise to tell you about opals from those lands, with an ancient and mysterious history!