Saturday 11 October 2014

Opal - The birthstone for October

Opals are unlike any other stone out there. I was struggling when listing some opal birthstone earrings items recently, to describe the colour properly. Because of course they are white, but also, blue, red, green, aaaah. How can that be?

Opals possess an internal structure which diffracts light, so depending on the conditions it can show flashes of white, grey, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, magenta, rose, pink, slate, olive, brown, and black. Of all of these hues, the reds against black are the most rare, whereas white and greens are the most common. 

Galaxy opal from Jundah Mine - Australia

I found this amazing site with lots of opal eye candy, including this chart detailing the different types of opal out there. 

However, for me despite it's obvious beauty and variety, natural opal does have some problems in that it is relatively easy to damage, plus a good quality stone can be very expensive. I tend to use white synthetic opals, which are lab created. They take nearly 18 months to create and can be quite stunning. These are imitation opals - the chemical structure of the stone is different - which is a positive in some ways as they are stronger as they don't contain water.

Oxidised opal earrings

However, I have used and am always very willing to get use a more expensive stone if preferred - just contact me for a quote and I'll jump at the chance!

As they change with the light around them, you'll notice that when the silver is oxidised as in these opal earrings above, the stone looks very different to when the silver is left shiny....(like in this opal and sterling silver ring)

Opal birthstone ring
Opals in olden times were thought to symbolise love and hope. Nowadays they are said to symbolise happiness, faithfulness, loyalty and confidence.

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