All you need to know about Opal Gemstones

All you need to know about Opal Gemstones
Karra Willmott
In Jewellery

It may be considered unlucky by some, but to me, Opals are the most beautiful of all gemstones.

There’s something about that play of colour that dances across the stone when illuminated, and that no two specimens will ever be the same.

Opals are made from silica and water, and grow in vein like fissures between or within rocks. Their make-up is also pretty fantastic – they consist of a unique arrangement of microscopic spheres. The size and layout of these spheres determines the colour, which is caused by diffracted light. This can cause the Opal to either be very plain, or brightly lit.

Opals can form in many styles, such as boulder and water; however the most desired are the harlequin and black varieties; the latter being the rarest of all Opals.

The harlequin features a fantastic and bold display of reds, blues and greens on a white background, and these colours are in large blocks that are evenly spaced across the gemstone.

The black Opals despite their name can also be blue or grey in colour, and the most prized of these come from Lightening Ridge in Australia.

Like many gemstones, Opals are available in many different qualities, so can be very affordable.

Opal is the national gemstone of Australia, and is also the birthstone for the month of October.

Opals are sadly branded unlucky to own by some – this is not down to lore or mystic beliefs; it is simply because they have a habit of becoming damaged.

Due to the materials of which they are made, Opals are naturally a soft stone. They are cut en cabochon (as a dome without facets) to try to limit abrasion and damage, and are also sensitive from heat and light, as they can dry out. Therefore if they are not looked after, their lifespan can be very short.

Providing you give your Opal a little TLC, such as keeping it separate in your jewellery box, keeping it away from intense light and not wearing it whilst you are doing labour intensive work, it should last you a lifetime and more.

So perhaps forget those misconceptions and try a piece of Opal Jewellery – you never know, it could become your lucky star.

Karra Willmott

About Karra Willmott

Karra Willmott has been in the jewellery trade for over ten years, having worked for a range of jewellers and goldsmiths, including Tiffany & Co. During that time, she has studied with the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A), gaining diplomas in gemmology and diamonds and is currently a Fellow and Diamond Member of the Gem-A. Karra is also a trained valuer with formal qualifications and substantial experience within the industry. She is a Member of the Institute of Registered Valuers with the National Association of Goldsmiths. Her specialty is in gemmology and diamond grading, but she also has a passion for prestigious watches and other luxury items.  As well as working for H&T’s Valuations Team, she also tutors Gem-A’s Online Distance Learning courses to share her love and pass on her knowledge.

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