Opals are a very popular gemstone with a long history and folklore attached to them. Opals have been considered the luckiest and most magical gemstone throughout much of history, most likely because of their ability to show so many colors in one single gemstone. The colors in an Opal are described as play-of-color by those in the jewelry business.
Where is Opal found?
Opals come from a few different regions. Australia produces both black and white Opals and is said to produce 75-90% of the worlds Opal supply. Brazil produces White Opals and Mexico is the sole producer of Fire Opals.
What are the Different Types of Opals?
White Opals- translucent to semi translucent with play-of-color against a white stone
Black Opal- translucent to opaque with play-of-color against a black or other dark body color
Fire Opal- Transparent to translucent with brown, yellow, orange or red body color. This gem often doesn’t show a play-of-color and is also known as “Mexican Opal” “Gold Opal” or “Sun Opal”.
Boulder Opal- translucent to opaque with play-of-color against and light to dark background. Host rock fragments, or matrix, are part of this finished gem.
Opal Doublets- pieces of white or black Opal that are too thin to use alone often become part of Opal doublets or triplets. Opal doublets consist of a material such as glass or plastic that have a thin layer of Opal attached on top of it. A black adhesive is often used to attach the piece of Opal and help dramatize its play-of-color. An Opal triplet is the same thing as a doublet with a top layer made of rock, crystal quartz, or colorless glass.
Opals are a very delicate stone that require attention and caution when worn in jewelry. Opals are a 5 to 6 ½ on the Mohs scale of hardness, which means they are one of the most soft and delicate gemstones on the market, along with emeralds. You can prolong the life of your Opals by taking the proper precautions when cleaning them. Opals should never be exposed to high heat temperatures because this can cause fracturing on the gemstone. You should never use an ultrasonic cleaner or a steamer to clean your Opal, instead use lukewarm, soapy water.
Is my Opal real or fake?
Glass and plastic are often used as imitations or imposters for Opals. This can be often determined if the Opal is under deep magnification and turned on its side. If the colors in the Opal go straight down, look structured and don’t appear scattered inside the Opal, its most likely an imitation. If you’re unsure, you can bring your gemstones into Les Olson Jewelers anytime during our store hours to get a professional opinion.
Opal Jewelry in Palm Harbor
Opal jewelry can be very affordable or very costly, this mostly depends on the type of Opal and metal used to make the jewelry. Les Olson Jewelers has a wide selection of Opal jewelry custom made in our Palm Harbor Jewelry studio. Opals are delicate stones, which is why our jewelers at Les Olson always look for the best designs to preserve the life of your Opal jewelry. Here at Les Olson Jewelers we take many factors into account when designing a piece of Opal Jewelry and always educate our customers on how to properly care for and clean their Opal jewelry.
Like any gemstone, the price for a true Opal can vary drastically. The play-of-color in an Opal is usually the determining factor in the value of an Opal along with stone size. A pale washed out Opal is no competition for a vibrant Opal with a prominent play-of-color. Now that you know more about Opals and their attributes, you may consider an Opal piece as your next jewelry purchase. It’s important to look for a piece of jewelry that is going to fit your lifestyle. When shopping for Opal rings, be sure that the Opal has a nice depth to it; a shallow Opal can become damaged and break very easily. Pendants and earrings have much less risk of the Opal being exposed to shock and damage throughout the day. Our Jewelers at Les Olson Jewelers take the proper precautions to protect Opals during repairs by using our laser welder, which is much safer to use around gemstones as opposed to an open flame. Click here to shop our custom Opal selection from our Palm Harbor studio or call to inquire about Opal repairs done on site 727-785-9624.