The flashy birthstone of October is one of Emily’s favorite gems, the most prized of which hail from the mines in Australia.
Opals are formed when water flows deep within crevices in rock and petrified wood; along the way it picks up silica from sandstone deposits and when the water evaporates you are left with an opal. It sounds simple but it typically takes about 5 million years for 1 centimeter of opal to form, which is why natural opals are so incredibly valued.
Opal hardness is dependent on its exact composition and formation conditions but ranges from 5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale. Its toughness is fair, making opal a gem that is suitable for jewelry but requires care when wearing so as to not scratch or break the stone.
Emily has an unparalleled eye for choosing the most spectacularly prismatic opals from Australia, Indonesia, Peru and beyond. She is particularly drawn to those stones with unique patterns in the coloring like striping and checkerboard patterns.