• Choosing the Perfect Opal

October 07, 2016

Distant galaxies, a bolt of lightning and erupting volcanoes; the kaleidoscopic display of colours found in opal gemstones are simply magical. Understandably, this powerfully beautiful gemstone has captured the imagination of ancient cultures for centuries.

Galaxies and Opals

Opal is the birthstone for October and opal jewellery can make meaningful jewellery gift for someone born during this month, whether it's a gift for Christmas, a birthday or a token to mark a special achievement such as a graduation.

We source all our gemstones in-house and we're always on the look out for a truly magical precious opal gemstone.  When we do find something special, we'll work hard to create a bespoke design which enhances the natural beauty of the gemstone, always choosing to set our gemstones in gold or other precious metals. Our independent jewellery shop has been established for almost two decades now, and in those years we've had the pleasure of making some very special bespoke opal earrings, opal necklaces and opal bracelets on request for our opal-loving customers. 

 

Above: Designed by Joy Everley, this beautiful pair of bespoke opal earrings featuring two milky White Opals with a semi-translucent cream background. These opals have rainbow-like iridescence that changes with the angel of observation. Visible colours of greens, blues, pinks, purples, yellows and oranges.

What is an opal? 

An opal is the product of seasonal rains drenching the soil of very dry terrain and desert. The rain water carries silica (a mineral which mostly forms the type of sand found in deserts) deep underground where it deposits in ancient rock layers. When the water evaporates it leaves silica deposits between the sedimentary rock, which eventually forms what we know as Opal.  An opal will always contain water, the content varies but it can be as much as 30%. It's magical to think that contained within an opal are ancient droplets of rainwater formed by powerful torrential rainstorms!

Where do opals come from?

Opals mainly come from Australia where the sandy, dry soil found in in the outback create the perfect conditions for forming precious opals. Opal deposits have also been found in Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan and the U.S (Nevada). 

Are there different types of opal?

There are five main different types of opal: Fire opal, White Opal, Black Opal, Boulder Opal and Water Opal. 

Fire Opal- Named after its orange-red colour, fire opals do not have exhibit any opulence and are usually milky looking. The best fire opals are transparent, though they very rare and extremely delicate!

Black Opal- Black opals are also very rare and feature a mysteriously dark background with a colourful display of light known as 'play-of-colour', radiating through the precious gemstone, as though distant galaxies where contained within it. This play-of-colour is the spectacular colourful display and the most widely know feature of all opals.  

Boulder Opal- Boulder opal is one of the rarest types of opal. It occurs as a pebble-rock, with veins of precious opal running throughout to resemble a colourful spiderweb or matrix effect.

Water Opal- This type of opal has a clear, or almost translucent background and can feature the most radiant play-of-colours compared to all other types of opal. Water Opals are captivatingly beautiful, and look as though they hold a bloom of jellyfish in the depths of a precious gemstone ocean. 

White Opal- Are translucent or semi-translucent opal with a white or light cream background. White opals can exhibit the most dramatic 'play-of-colour' compared to all other opal types. 

Bespoke Opal and Gold Pendant Necklace

Above: Designed by Joy Everley, this milky White Opal has been set in a secure rubover surrounding of 9ct yellow gold and suspended from a fine gold chain. 

Choosing the Perfect Opal for your Bespoke Jewellery

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your perfect opal and it's good idea to view the loose gemstones in person. Once you've decided what your budget is and what type of opal you like best, you can book an appointment with our bespoke design consultant who will source a selection of precious opals for you to view at our independent jewellery shop in Soho, London.

When viewing your opal gemstone make note of the background colour; opals have a wide variety of base colours which can entirely change how an opal looks. It's entirely up to you what colour you prefer! If you have chosen a Water Opal, Black Opal or White Opal then look for an even play-of-colour, as sometimes an opal may have a 'dull spot'. When viewing loose opal gemstones at our jewellery shop, our Bespoke Design Consultant will talk you through the gemstone selection to help you choose the perfect one. 

Caring for Opals

Opals are extremely fragile and are prone to cracking. We do not recommend using precious opals in rings as they are highly sensitive to pressure and knocks. As we use our hands all the time, opals set in rings are very likely to get damaged. 

Over time opals can loose their light and opulence. This may be because the stone begins to lose its water, which could lead to cracking and diminished opalescence. To prolong the lifecycle of your opal jewellery, we recommend storing your opal gemstones with slightly moist absorbent cotton wool. Opals should never be left in direct sunlight and should be stored wrapped in a soft, PH balanced cloth.




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