Opals are semi-precious stones - birthstones for October and for the zodiac sign Libra. Opal has another distinguished significance; it is the accepted gem for commemorating 14th and 18th wedding anniversary. Opal has the power to reflect all colors of the rainbow thus making it one of the most beautiful gemstones in the world.
Opal is believed to enhance insight and dispel unwanted fear. It secures the owner from bad company and is trusted for its healing properties. Opal can transform wishes into reality and is sought to inspire creativity. Read on to learn more about selecting opal jewelry and caring for it.
Opal is predominantly found in Australia and is officially recognized as the national gemstone. The word Opal is derived from Latin word 'Opalus' and Sanskrit word 'Upala' meaning 'precious stone'. In scientific terms, opal is a mixture of silica and water. Common Opal has a disordered structure and shape. It consists of tiny spheres that are mostly irregular in size and shape.
The cavity or gaps between the spheres are filled with hydrated silicon. Only opals with organized pockets of spheres have a regular size, structure and arrangement. These are termed as precious opals and are chosen for jewelry making. Precious Opal exhibits a characteristic play of color diffracting light at various wavelengths.
Depending on the angle at which it is observed, a different color is emitted. More structured the arrangement, better will be exuberance of colors.
Types of Opals
Synthetic opals or man-made opals are artificially created in laboratories and do not contain water like natural opals. Quite affordable, it hardly requires expertise to differentiate between synthetic and natural opals. The brilliance of colors from synthetic opals is much brighter and the shape is irregular.
Further it exhibits an orderly array of colors due to the absence of intricate pattern distinctively present in natural opals. When viewed with a magnifying lens, the arrangement of colors resembles a 'lizard-skin' or a 'chicken-wire' pattern.
Opals found in nature are termed as Natural opals. They are not treated or added in any way other than by cutting or polishing Based on body tone and transparency, natural opals are of four different types.
Black Opal is highly valued, rarely found and enjoys great demand. Semi black and black crystal with a base of a dark body tone stands out bright and strong.
White Opal also referred to as milky opals are commonly found and cost less. The pale body tone which could range from whitish to light grayish, a dull yellow or a light blue-gray or pale-blue color rarely accentuates other colors emitted by the stone. Set a white opal in a piece of exquisite jewelry.
Boulder Opal is the second most valued opal after black opal. It consists of an ironstone base signifying its formation from ironstone rocks.
Crystal Opal refers to any one of the above types of opal with a transparent or semi-transparent body tone. Being opaque, depending on whether it is a light body tone or dark body tone, crystal opal is classified as black crystal opal or white crystal opal.
Fire Opal is any one of the above kinds of opal with significant amount of red coloring. Rarely found, fire opals are extremely valuable.
Unlike natural opals that are in one piece with no addition or enhancement, doublets and triplets consist of layers binded together with glue. These are much cheaper than solid black opals as they contain a small amount of natural opal. Doublets are made of two pieces, a solid piece cemented to a black blacking. Triplets are made of three pieces, a solid piece cemented to a black backing with a crystal cap cemented on the top.
An ideal gift for someone special, opal gemstone can be set in modern or traditional jewelry styles. Opal gemstones can be used in gold, silver or platinum metals. Rings, pendants, brooches and pins, chains, cufflinks, belt buckles and bolo ties are available in opal jewelry.
Opal jewelry buying guide Is it natural or synthetic opal?
While you shop for opal jewelry it is pertinent to arm yourself with accurate and complete information about various aspects of opal jewelry. Expensive opals weigh greater.
What is the foreground color?
Do you like a dark or a light base color?
What are the different colors exhibited by the opal?
What is the brightness of the opal?
Does the opal look dull at a given angle?
What is the size, weight and shape of opal?
Will you receive authentication of opal from vendor
Opal jewelry care Keep away from heat and sunlight
All gemstones require care to maintain its specialty. Learn to care for opal jewelry from dust, skin oil or any other substance by following this maintenance regime.
Keep away from possible chemical contacts
Do not use jewellery cleaner products
Water with vinegar or soap is suitable for cleaning
Use a tooth-brush occasionally to remove dirt
Wipe with a soft cloth or air dry
Try and retain opal jewelry in original package/box.