Opal Gemstones

by Sasha t on Jun 27, 2023

Opal Gemstones - Jack Weir & Sons

Opal gemstones have captivated human imagination for centuries with their mesmerizing play of colors and ethereal beauty. Known as the "Queen of Gems," opals are truly a marvel of nature. From their captivating hues to their unique internal structure, opals continue to fascinate gem enthusiasts and collectors worldwide. In this blog, we will embark on a journey to discover the enchanting world of opal gemstones.

2.79 carat opal solitaire ring on a 18k yellow gold setting

Opals are formed over millions of years through a natural process involving the interaction of silica-rich water and organic matter. They are primarily composed of microscopic spheres of silica arranged in a precise and uniform pattern. It is this intricate internal structure that gives opals their distinctive play of colors.

The play of colors, known as "opalescence," is what makes opals truly magical. Opal gemstones can display a kaleidoscope of colors, ranging from vivid reds, oranges, and yellows to blues, greens, and purples. This phenomenon occurs due to the interference and diffraction of light as it passes through the tiny silica spheres within the gemstone. The interplay of light and the gem's internal structure create an ever-changing dance of colors, shimmering and shifting with the slightest movement.

Mid century opal and diamond bouquet brooch on a two toned gold setting

Opals come in various types, each with its own unique characteristics and color patterns. Here are some of the most well-known types:

- Precious Opal: Precious opal is renowned for its captivating play of colors. It can exhibit a full spectrum of hues against a translucent or transparent background, making it highly sought after by gemstone enthusiasts.

- Fire Opal: Fire opal is characterized by its vivid orange, red, or yellow body color. While it may lack the play of colors seen in precious opal, fire opal compensates with its intense and vibrant hues.

- Black Opal: Black opal is considered the most valuable and prized type of opal. It is characterized by a dark body tone that enhances the play of colors, making them appear more vibrant and dramatic.

- Boulder Opal: Boulder opal is unique in that it forms in conjunction with ironstone matrix, resulting in a distinctive pattern of opal veins within the host rock. The contrast between the opal and the surrounding rock creates a visually stunning effect.

- Ethiopian Opal: Ethiopian opal, also known as Welo opal, is relatively new to the gem market. It gained popularity due to its vibrant play of colors, which can rival those of Australian opals. Ethiopian opals often exhibit a wide range of colors, including flashes of red, green, and blue.

Vintage opal tourmaline diamond cocktail ring on a 18 karat yellow gold setting

Opals have a rich history and are steeped in symbolism and lore. They have been associated with various beliefs and legends across different cultures. In ancient times, opals were believed to possess magical properties and were considered a symbol of hope, purity, and luck. Some cultures associated opals with love, passion, and desire. However, there has also been a superstitious belief that opals bring bad luck, primarily fueled by a misinterpretation of a 19th-century novel. Despite this superstition, opals continue to be cherished for their undeniable beauty and appeal.

Edwardian opal tsavorite garnet ring on a 14k yellow gold setting
Opals require special care to preserve their natural beauty. They are relatively soft gemstones, with a hardness rating of around 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale. To protect opals from scratches and damage, it is advisable to store them separately from other gemstones and avoid exposing them to extreme temperature changes. Opals should also be protected from harsh chemicals and prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, as these can cause the gemstone to fade or lose its play of colors.
Victorian Revival opal, diamond and pearl hinged cuff bracelet on a 14k yellow gold setting
Opals are a true testament to the wonders of nature, captivating us with their vibrant colors and mysterious allure. From the fiery brilliance of precious opals to the intense hues of fire opals, each type of opal offers a unique visual experience. Whether you appreciate their natural beauty, delve into their rich symbolism, or simply admire the kaleidoscope of colors they possess, opal gemstones continue to hold a special place in the world of gem enthusiasts and collectors.

Here at Jack Weir & Sons we’ve spent the last 40 years traveling to Europe and all over the world, curating extraordinary estate jewels. JWS is where the old world meets the new world. Celebrate life, preserve history, and discover your own priceless heirloom jewel. We are extremely grateful for our clients and the ability to help people to celebrate their special moments through one of a kind jewelry. To share that gratitude and our strong family values, we chose to partner with Baby2BabySo far, we've donated $125,000 to those in need. A portion of every sale goes towards children living in poverty to provide them with diapers, clothing, and all the basic necessities that every child deserves.

We offer in-person and Virtual Appointments and are happy to answer any questions about your favorite jewel. 
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