Opal is one of the world's most unique and gorgeous gemstones with its iridescent, multifaceted aesthetic. According to the Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, opals can contain up to 20% water trapped inside of the stone's silica structure.
If you're interested in custom handmade jewelry that features opal, this fascinating stone has an interesting history and a lot of unique facts to discover.
Read on to learn more about opal so you can decide if this stunning stone is the right choice for your next jewelry purchase.
A Beloved Ancient Gemstone
The opal has long been a treasured and revered stone that writers, artists, and other creative souls love. The name opal comes from the ancient Roman word opalus, which translates into the term "precious stone."
Some Romans believed that opal got its brilliant color from lighting. While it's not certain when or where the first opal was discovered, there is some evidence of opal dating as far back as the year 4000 B.C.
The ancient Romans revered this amazing stone more than any other. Today, it is the official birthstone for the month of October. If you're born in this month, consider some stunning opal custom handmade jewelry to commemorate your birthday.
Try opal rings with diamonds to add a shimmering touch to your ensemble. An opal doublet ring is another gorgeous choice, or you can give your special someone a custom opal engagement ring.
Opal Takes Time to Form
Similar to many other precious stones, opal takes a very long time to fully develop. Some scientists believe that silica is carried down into crevices of rocks during heavy rains and storms.
When the water evaporates from the stones, a fine silica gel remains and hardens over time. It's believed that this silica can take millions of years to completely harden and form into the famous opal gemstone.
The water content of opals is typically around 20 percent, although some varieties may contain as little as five percent. The color of opal may vary from a mixture of pinks and reds to shimmering green, white, and light blue. These brilliant flashes are known as play-of-color and can range from deep and dark to light and iridescent.
Custom Handmade Jewelry: Types of Opal
When researching your custom jewelry options, it's important to know more about the different types of opal available. While there are many to choose from, most jewelers place the stone into five main categories.
White or light opal has a translucent to semitranslucent color that features its play-of-color against either a white or light gray background. Black opals are translucent to opaque and their colors play against dark or black backgrounds.
Fire opals are one of the world's favorites thanks to the combination of colors including brown, yellow, orange, and red. These opals are often known as "Mexican opals."
The boulder opal is translucent to opaque with brilliant fragments of the stone surrounding the finished gemstone. Finally, the crystal or water opal is another popular choice for unique jewelry. This opal features a clear background that really highlights its brilliant play of color.
Before you decide which type of opal is right for you, check out a variety of different options and colorways. Shimmering handmade opal rings with diamonds look incredible, while an opal doublet ring is a perfect way to make a bold style statement.
Where do Opals Come From?
An important part of finding the perfect custom handmade jewelry is knowing its source. Approximately 95% of the world's opal comes from Australia. In fact, it is the official national stone of the country.
This shimmering gemstone was first commercially mined in Queensland, Australia in 1875. Today, opal is also mined in nations like Mexico, Brazil, and Ethiopia.
Precious opals like fire opals have a bright, vibrant color. Common opals are also shimmery, but their colors aren't quite as bright and don't stand out against the background quite as pronounced as precious opals do.
You can measure opal hardness using the Mohs Scale of Hardness. The stones rank 5.5 to 6.5 out of 10 on the scale, which means that they're a bit more fragile than some other gemstones.
Opal Jewelry Care Tips
If you're looking for custom, unique jewelry, then opal is an excellent choice. Once you've found the perfect piece, it's important that you take proper care of your investment.
Try to keep your new jewelry out of extremely high temperatures or very low humidity. If you choose an opal doublet ring, make sure you never get it wet or submerge it in water for long periods of time. Too much water can cause the layers of opal to separate, leaving a foggy or greyish color behind.
To clean your beautiful opal custom handmade jewelry, use a mild, gentle detergent and a bit of warm water. Take a soft microfiber cloth or a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently scrub it clean. Never use bleach, abrasive cleaners, or chemicals to clean your opal jewelry as it could scratch or damage the stone.
Don't immerse your opal in water and never use an ultrasonic cleaner since the vibrations could cause the stone to crack. A professional jeweler can polish your opal jewelry to make it look smooth and shiny if it ever becomes dull.
When storing your opal jewelry, keep it in a soft padded cloth bag or jewelry box. Always keep it away from direct sunlight and out of environments with extremely low humidity.
Discover the Queen of Gemstones
Now that you know more about this fascinating stone, you can find the perfect opal custom handmade jewelry for you. Whether it's an opal engagement ring or opal rings with diamonds, there's a design out there that's perfect for your unique personality and style.
To discover more of our stunning custom jewelry, be sure to explore our website and check out our amazing one-of-a-kind pieces.