by Suzanne Sachs • 5 min read
THE BASICS --
Opal is one of the most fascinating gemstones in the world. Its ever-shifting colors and patterns are so alluring that many call it “The Queen of Gems.” Some opals flash all colors, while others are mostly reds and oranges or mostly blues and greens. This guide will help you pick the right opal ring, explains the symbolism and legends of opals, and describes the different types of opals.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW--
In this guide, we will explain the following:
- What is opal?
- Opal mines
- Opal color
- Benefits of an opal ring
- Opal symbolism
- Magical symbolism
- Greek legend
- Celebrity symbolism
- Doublets and triplets
- Choosing an opal ring
What is Opal?
Opal is a luxurious, iridescent gem with fiery color that sparks from deep within the stone to give it a lifelike spirit and unique charm. Opals are formed when rain showers soak through underground rock formations. During dry spells, solid deposits of silica are formed between layers of sedimentary rock. These layers create opals.
Australia is famous for opals, but opals also come from Africa, especially Ethiopia, Mexico, and the United States. They’re not just limited to the Earth, though. There are even opals on Mars. Opal deposits occur where water carried dissolved silica deep into the ground. As the water evaporated, it deposited the silica on bedrock, or matrix. If the silica formed in a particular grid-like pattern, it created fire opal. Different sizes of silica particles create the different colors.
Fire opal is what we usually think of when we imagine an opal. It’s a mix of colors with patterns called flash, because they move and shift with the light. In terms of color, most fire opals come in three main color categories: white opal, black opal, and crystal opal. This describes the primary background color. While black opals are rarest and the most expensive, white and crystal opals are also stunning and valuable. A white or crystal opal with good color and fire is more valuable than a black opal without as much color. Mexican fire opal has very limited flash and is usually orange or red.
Benefits of an Opal Ring:
- Opals are almost hypnotically beautiful and flash their colors as you move your hand.
- Opals go with any outfit as they come in nearly every color and look stunning with neutrals.
- You can find vintage opal rings in a variety of price ranges and styles.
• Magical Symbolism
Opal is associated with magical powers, especially the power to appear and disappear. This probably comes from the way that colors appear and disappear as the stone moves.
• Greek Legend
Ancient Greeks thought that opal gave its owners the gift of prophecy. In later European legends, opal came to symbolize truth and fidelity. Some also believed that magicians could harness the power of light within an opal.
• Celebrity Symbolism
Hollywood has caught opal fever and has graced some of the most popular fingers in Hollywood, including Claire Danes, Taylor Swift, Cate Blanchett and the late great Liz Taylor. Any bride who chooses an opal ring joins this elite group of leading ladies who adore this stunning gemstone.
• Doublets and Triplets
Sometimes opal with a beautiful color and fire come in a very thin vein, too thin to set by itself as a stone. Gem cutters will put a glass or quartz rounded cap on top of the stone to protect it and make it think enough to set. This is called a doublet opal. A triplet opal is an opal that’s between a glass or quartz top and a stone bottom, usually onyx or some other dark stone. Most 19th century vintage opal engagement rings are solids, but later opal rings may be doublets or triplets.
Opal doublets and triplets are real opal, but not as valuable as solid opal because they aren’t as rare. As long as the jeweler discloses that a contemporary or a vintage opal ring is a doublet or triplet, you can feel secure buying one.
Opals are soft, approximately 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, so if you have a solid opal, make sure that the setting protects the edges. Opals can dry out if you expose them to heat, especially dry heat, for a long period, so don’t wear one in the sauna. They’re also sensitive to some chemicals, so avoid wearing an opal in a swimming pool.
Choosing an Opal Ring
While black opal is the rarest and the most expensive, white and crystal opals are stunning choices as well. You can find solitaire or multi stone vintage opal rings. Garnets and opals were a popular Victorian choice and opals and diamonds are a classic combination. An opal ring is a romantic and beautiful choice. Pick out the perfect queen of gems today for the person you love.
Opal Engagement Rings For Everyone:
No matter which era is your favorite, these time-honored rings have a rich history and individualized character and will continue to have a timeless beauty and elegant appeal that is part of a legacy to pass on to future generations.
Find The Perfect Engagement Ring:
Antique diamond cuts are prized not only for their beauty but also for their exquisite attention to detailing and faceting. If you’re looking for a ring with a sense of glamour, sophistication and vintage charm, explore our collection of opal engagement rings today!