The opal is the national gemstone of Australia and one of the most popular gems in the world. The traditional birthstone for October babies, opals feature regularly in a wide array of gemstone necklaces and earrings. Known for their eye-catching display of hues called play-of-color, opals come in multiple variations, including white, black, and fire.
Keep reading to learn about the history of this precious stone, along with the different types of opals used in jewelry.
The Queen of the Gems
Once upon a time, the Bedouins believed that the opal contained trapped lightning that had fallen from the sky. However, geologists now know that this gemstone forms when water runs down into the earth, leaving behind silica deposits. Called “the Queen of the Gems” by the Romans, this stone has long been considered a good luck symbol due to its seeming ability to change colors. In fact, opals feature millions of silica spheres in a wide array of colors and sizes. Depending on the light, an opal may appear to be a different shade every time you look at it.
What Kinds of Opals Are Used in Jewelry?
With so many different varieties on the market, opal lovers have plenty of options from which to choose. In fact, high-end jewelry designers like Simon G. and Beverley K are known to feature opals in their pieces. Here are some of the many opal types that frequently make an appearance in designer jewelry.
Featuring a rich, dark body tone, black opals typically originate in New South Wales. Despite their name, this opal variety is not completely black and instead boasts an array of spectral colors against a dark background. It’s among the best known and most desirable types of opals available.
Mined in South Australia, the white or milky opal comes in white, yellow, and cream-colored hues. This beautiful stone tends to be more affordable than its black counterparts. While white opals don’t show their spectral colors as well as the black variety, they’re still highly desirable for their shimmer and shine.
Mined from ironstone boulders in Queensland, this opal variety features a dark hue and a thin seam. Ranging in size from a pebble to a sedan, these stones can showcase a broad array of spectral colors through their unique play of color. After black opals, they’re the second most valuable opal variety on the market.
Ranging in color from yellow to red, fire opals are among the best known gems in the world. Naturally named for their fiery hue, these stones rise in value based on their color uniformity, with red stones earning the highest sums. Fire opals were symbols of love in ancient times and are still beloved by romantics and idealists worldwide.
Outfit Yourself in Opals at Jewelry Design Center
Boasting a 16,800-square-foot showroom, Jewelry Design Center in Spokane and Kennewick features a wide selection of award-winning pieces by top designers, including opal earrings and necklaces. Additionally, we specialize in crafting custom jewelry based on your style and preference. Stop by or shop online today for a wide selection of opal jewelry and more. We look forward to seeing you!