Opulent Opals for October
October. It’s the time of year where nature explodes into a kaleidoscope of rich oranges, fiery reds and warm inviting yellows. When the air is crisp, and the skies are a clear cerulean blue which plays in perfect contrast with the evergreen trees. No wonder the Opal is October’s birthstone. Available in an array of color patterns it is the perfect gemstone to represent the explosion of color that is the fall season. October babies, you are one lucky group!
History of the Opal
The history of opals is one of great length, with data dating back to approximately 4000 B.C., when it is said the stone was discovered in Ethiopia. From there, many countries around the world started mining the stone, spanning everywhere from Hungary to Mexico and supplying its discoveries to surrounding countries during the 16th century. However, even though other countries mine the stone to differing degrees of quality, Australia has been the number one supplier of top-quality opals since the 1800’s and remains in that position today.
Fun Fact: Did you know the largest opal was found in southern Australia? The “Olympic Australis” weighs in at over 17,000 carats (over 7 pounds) and is 11 inches long! Due to its purity (99% gem opal and 1% soil from the mining site), it will remain intact.
Lore of the Opal
Along with a rich and lengthy mining history the lore that surrounds opals is just as expansive as its color palette. The opal has been said to possess magical qualities which gifts the wearer with the ability to see limitless possibilities.
Barrel Charm in Pink Opal with 18K Yellow Gold
Why Are Opals Special?
Opals have captured the attention of artists, celebrities, royals and philosophers spanning thousands of years due to their array of color patterns and uniqueness. One philosopher, Pliny, once marveled at the beauty of the opal romantically ruminating at the wonder of its color palette. Andy Warhol collected opals and even had an art exhibition dedicated solely to these rainbow gems. Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis were avid opal fine jewelry collectors. A stone that possesses the colors of every fine gemstone of the world must be special.
Opals captured the hearts of nearly every civilization known to man. The Romans wore opals to signify love and hope. Arabians believed opals fell from the heavens in flashes of lightning. A Greek owner of an opal was said to receive the gift of prophecy and protection from disease. The Europeans? They believed opals symbolized hope, purity and truth. It is clear to see how anyone who wears an opal is wearing thousands of years of history and symbolism.
Jane Taylor Floral 14k Yellow Gold Opal and Diamonds Huggies
Choosing an Opal
Selecting an opal is an exciting way to bring a personalized piece of jewelry into a collection. Finding your perfect opal comes down to the 4 C’s: color, clarity, cut and carat.
Opals come in an array of colors. Red on black is the most valuable color way, but if you admire blue or white opals select a stone that speaks to you! There are white opals, boulder opals, jelly opals and crystal opals just to name a few. However, the black opal is the most rare and valuable.
Saturation, hue, and tone determine an opal’s clarity. Transparency is also a factor. A brighter, more saturated colored gem will be of higher value than the same-colored opal possessing a lighter hue. Bright blue vs light blue, for example. The brighter deeper blue will be of higher value than a lighter blue stone.
Unlike sapphires or emeralds, opals are not usually faceted. They are cut into oval shapes possessing a dome which allows light to travel through and off the stone. Look for a nice, rounded surface. An improperly cut and more flat opal will be more susceptible to cracking and damage.
Like most gemstones, opals are cut and measured by carats. The carat size will have an influence over its value. Remember the Olympic Australis mentioned before, which weighs 17,000 carats.
Opals fall between a 5.5-6 on the Mohs scale, which means its toughness is poor making it good for jewelry, but proper care should be taken to ensure the gemstone does not crack or become scratched. Harsh chemicals should be avoided to clean the stone. A dampened soft cloth with a mild jewelry cleanser should be all that is needed. Extreme temperatures like boiling water should also be avoided when cleaning your piece of opal fine jewelry. Storage in a soft cloth bag is desirable, and if storing for an extended period place the cloth bag into a plastic bag to keep the stones moisture intact.
Marli Cleo 18k Gold Sapphire and Opal Ring
14k 5mm Opal Birthstone October Stud Earrings
David Yurman Elements Heart Amulet in 18k Yellow Gold with Pink Opal
If you would like to gift or wear a piece for Fall, we have the experts to help you select the perfect opal fine jewelry. Stop by one of our storefront locations. If you have additional questions our online concierge is here to help.