Opals are in a class of their own. As a species, the opal is so unique that it has its own descriptive vocabulary. More than any other gemstone, each opal is distinctly individual. Opals are also the most delicate gemstones commonly worn and require special care.
Opal – Origin and occurrence of the stone
Opal forms when silica gel fills fissures in the rock. When water evaporates, the silica is deposited in the form of tiny spheres. The opal spheres form a fantastic variety of patterns and colors and no two opals are exactly alike. Opal is found on all continents and in Antarctica. However, most sites only offer common opal.
The most important and best known deposits of the precious opal are in Australia. The coveted black opal comes from Lightnin Ridge, New South Wales. The Yowah opal field in Queens mainly supplies boulder opals and Coober Peedy in South Australia is known for fine crystal and milk opals.
Germany - Spain - USA
- Formation by silica gel fissures in the rock
- Variety of patterns and colors
- Origin: Australia, New South Wales
Stone/Gemstone Opal – the gemstone from the desert
Opal stones, which can contain up to 10% water, are often found in desert regions where the vital resource is scarce. Coupled with its prismatic quality, it’s not hard to see why the meaning of opal is so closely associated with tears, raindrops, and stormy skies. Themes of rainbows, lightning and thunder persist across cultural and geographic boundaries and across time.
- Up to 10% water
- Often in desert regions
- Connection with tears, raindrops and stormy sky
Price of opal – depending on color, clarity, cut and carat.
The price of an opal depends on four factors; color, clarity, cut and carat. Opal’s spectacular play of color can represent all the colors of the rainbow and experts expect different levels of clarity for different types of opal. Fine opals are often cut into irregular shapes to provide as much color play as possible, and opal has a relatively low density so larger sizes are comfortable to wear.
- Color, clarity, cut and carat
Buy Opals – Price: depending on basic tone, brightness & play of colours
The opal can be obtained either from a jeweler or a gemstone dealer. When buying, pay attention to the basic tone, brightness, color play and inclusions or flaws. The keynote is the basic color of the opal gemstone. The keynote is read by looking through the top of the stone and ranges from N1-N4 (black opal) to N9. Opals have a brightness scale that indicates how matte or brilliant the opal is. The scale is numbered and the brightest opals are rated the highest.
When buying Australian opals, you should make sure that the entire gemstone has a consistent color play. Color play is the most important feature in determining whether an opal is natural or synthetic. The most popular opals will show a play of color at any angle you hold the opal.
Opals are extracted from the earth and naturally have some inclusions and flaws. While some are eye clean, others have inclusions that lower the price. Imperfections are actually a positive feature as they prove that the opal is 100% genuine and not synthetic.
- Jeweler or gem dealer
- Value depends on basic tone, brightness and color play
- Inclusions or defects lower the value
Real vs. Fake: recognizing a real opal – Video
Find out how to spot a fake gemstone in this video.
Jewellery – necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets with opals
Jewellery with opal gemstones looks very elegant and high quality. Opals have a very long history and there are many myths surrounding the stone. In the Middle Ages, all blonde maidens wanted a necklace made of opals, as this was considered an absolute guarantee that their hair would not fade or darken. It was also believed that the opal would make a person invisible whenever they wished, so they called it patronus forum (patron saint of thieves).
- Elegant and high quality
- Blonde maidens in the Middle Ages wore necklaces of opals
- Patronus forum (patron saint of thieves)
Ring with opal – engagement, anniversary or birthday
Rings with opals are very beautiful and stand out directly when they shine in different colors. Especially as an engagement ring a ring with an opal is suitable, but it is also a nice gift for an anniversary or birthday, especially in October, because the opal is the birthstone of October.
- Engagement ring
- Anniversary gift
- Birthday present
Choosing the right opal ring – Video
Find out which ring is the right one for you.
Effect of opal – spiritual meaning
Opal is a spiritual stone with a strong connection to the sea. It is said to connect with sea creatures such as mermaids, dolphins, and so on. Its vibrations calm unpredictable emotions and promote personal confidence. Opal is known as one of the most powerful healing stones and is also called the stone of hope and happiness. For faithful lovers, it is the stone of love. For unfaithful lovers, this stone will bring bad luck.
Opal, along with pink tourmaline, is the birthstone for the month of October. It is also the stone given to celebrate the 14th year of marriage. It is believed that the name opal is derived from the Sanskrit upala, meaning “gemstone”, and later from the Greek derivative “opallios”, meaning “to see a change in color”.
- Strong connection to the sea
- Calms unpredictable emotions
- Promotes personal trust
- Powerful healing stone
- Stone of hope and happiness
- Birthstone for the month of October
Opal color – colorless, blue, red, yellow & green
The opal can shine in all colors of the rainbow and especially common are opals in colorless, white, yellow, orange and red , yellow-brown, green, blue, gray, black or purple. Just as the different angles at which you hold an opal will bring out different colors, the size of the stone will also determine the color. This is why it is so difficult to define opal as a single color. However, there are some rules of thumb:
- Large opal stones: in round and oval shapes warm red tones
- Small opal stones: cool and predominantly blue and green tones
- Intense colouring: uniform silica structure within the stone
Opals in different colors – Video
Look at opals in different colors here.
Care of the opal – long hold of a gemstone
Your opal will last a long time if you take good care of it. You should treat your opal with some care to avoid scratches and knocks. The stones should never be kept in oil or other chemicals. This can cause them to lose all or part of their fire. Since opals contain some water (up to 20% water), they should never be stored in a bank or safe for long periods of time because of the dehumidifiers used in many safes.
When opals become too dry, they tend to crack. This phenomenon is called crazing, and it ruins the value of the stone. You should avoid leaving your opal near anything that is potentially drying. To prevent your opal from drying out, it may be helpful to immerse it in water for several hours from time to time.
- Never store in oil or other chemicals
- Do not store in the safe for a long time
- From time to time immerse in water for several hours