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Opal : Discover its characteristics and our selection of opal jewelry

Name and characteristics of Opal

Its name Opal comes from the Latin word "opalus" which means "precious stone". Opal is a very particular and impressive stone. It belongs to the family of silicas, which have the particularity of being hydrated stones, which is explained by the presence of 4 to 20% water in its composition, and makes it a delicate stone (hardness of 5/10 on the Mohs scale). Its particularity comes from the fact that there are three types of Opals:

  • the common opal (milky and opaque, without play of light),
  • the fire opal (with orange-red colors) and
  • the noble opal with incredible properties: it presents multicolored plays of light which vary according to the angle under which it is observed: iridescence.

Different varieties of Opal

In addition to differentiating noble opals from common or fire opals, we distinguish between white opals which have a white background color and so-called black opals which have a dark background color (black, gray, blue, violet, green).

The Harlequin opal is a variety of noble opal that presents even more vivid plays of light.

Stories and beliefs about Opal

The opal was considered to be an emotionally sensitive lucky charm in many countries. It would turn pale in front of an enemy, red in front of a friend and it is even said that it would turn opaque when approaching a danger and would crack when it disappeared.
In England, Queen Victoria participated in the promotion of opal and proclaimed it a favorite jewel.
Meanwhile in France, a superstition was born, calling it an evil stone. This would come from the craftsmen who did not wish to be entrusted with opal to be cut or set on jewels because of the fragility of the gem.
Today, it is the only gem that does not need the work of the lapidary to fully reveal its beauty. Only the most knowledgeable and skilled workshops handle it with skill.

Opal deposits throughout the world

Opal is produced in "slices" called veins or veinlets, which weave through the rocks that host it. In antique times, opal came from Eastern European countries such as Slovakia or Hungary, which were the only deposits used in jewelry until the 19th century. Nowadays, and since the beginning of the 20th century, the vast majority of noble opals come from Australia and Ethiopia. Common opals, on the other hand, come from northeast Brazil or Mexico.

The famous Opals

There are many famous opals, but the Olympic Australis remains incredible. It is an Australian opal, which has long been the largest in the world, with its weight of 17,000 carats (3.4kg). It was discovered in 1956, just after the Olympic Games in Melbourne, hence its name. It is the most expensive opal in the world, sold for more than 1 630 000€.
Among the famous opal jewels, we note the Andamooka opal set offered by the Australian government to Queen Elizabeth II after her coronation.

Choose your Opal jewel

Each opal jewel that we offer is set with noble opals. We do not present doublets or triplets opals. Be careful when buying an opal jewel as to the quality and the veracity of the stone presented.

In order to choose your opal jewelry, there are several criteria, but the most important is your desire, your taste, the way you like a stone. The intensity of the color of your noble opal is very important, the more vivid the play of light, the rarer and more precious the stone. Its color is also an important criterion. Apart from your taste, when choosing, be aware that some sets of colors are more prized than others, such as the orange red of fire opals. Finally, the shape of the stone can vary, and again this depends on your preferences.

Discover our precious collection of antique Opal jewelry or creation

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