Union of Unique Colour: Choosing an Opal Engagement Ring

Opal Engagement Rings

Choosing an engagement ring is one of the most exciting decisions a young couple will make. For many, uniqueness of style and stone is a must.  Although most diamonds look the same, no two opals look alike. Although they’re quite fragile compared to many other popular gems, the play of colour from opal is still amazing and attractive for many customers. Couples who want to celebrate their own unique love story should consider opal engagement ring stones.

Black Opal Engagement Ring

Choosing an opal engagement ring does have some advantages. The price of opal is more affordable than buying a diamond, emerald, ruby, or sapphire. Since opals have a much lower specific gravity or density than these other gems, you can also get a much larger sized ring stone for the same carat weight.

There are many varieties of opal, with each type varying widely in price depending on their variety, colour, and quality. The following are the most popular choices for ring stones.

Black Opals

Black opals are the most prized, having darker backgrounds (mostly either black or blue) in tandem with a wide play of vivid colours. Due to the darkened background, black opals typically have more vibrant colours, with such clarity being reflected in the price. High-quality stones can range from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars per carat.  

Black opal engagement rings
Black Opal the state emblem of NSW in yellow gold and silver rings from Australian Opal Cutters lifetime warranty and money back guarantee from Sydney


Crystal Opals

The second most valuable type of opal, crystal opals are transparent to semi-transparent. They are often milky-white in their hue, and have vibrant rainbow specks floating through the stone.Prices for these crystal opals can range from a few hundred to something in the low thousands of dollars.

Crstal opal engagement ring

Natural Australian Crystal Opal Rings are hand cut to form unique and beautiful gifts and heirlooms for you to enjoy. 100% Natural and free from dyes.


White Opals

White opals have found a particular popularity in countries such as the United States, with the opals making up a bulk of commercial sales. These stones can often be seen as having a translucent appearance, with milky white, grey, or pale-yellow backgrounds. Often you will find that top-quality white opal should have an even, distinct pattern of colour. A decent-quality white opal can cost a few hundred dollars, which is to be expected for such a gem. 

White opal engagement ring

A Natural Australian White Opal ring in a classic Sterling Silver Bezel Setting. This resizeable setting is a perfect 'classic' Oval shape and suits all fashion styles. The clean, elegant sophisticated style is sleek, well proportioned and has the 'white gold' finish resulting from the rhodium plating with a stunning effect.


Boulder Opals

Boulder opal is mined with its host ironstone or sandstone still attached. This not only reinforces the opal - which tends to be incredibly thin  - but allows for a vibrancy in colour, similar to that found in black opals. Boulder opals also tend to come in unique and irregular sizes, allowing for the jewellery that contains them to be truly one-of-a-kind!

Boulder opal engagement ring
Rare and Valuable Australian Boulder Opal Ring from Central Queensland. Freeform Cut with Pinfire and Chaff Patterns.


Fire Opals

Fire opals are prizes for their beautiful orange, yellow, and red backgrounds and hues. The most valuable specimens have a vibrant and fiery red or orange hue, and uniform colour. Milkiness within such a gemstone is seen as the stone drying out and on the verge of cracking. While fire opals may often lack the play of colour seen so prominently in opal, consumers still prize them for their beautiful hues. Prices for these gemstones can often range from  tens to the low hundreds of dollars per carat.

A Note on Opal Prices

These prices are rough estimates. Since each opal is unique and there are stunning specimens within each opal type, prices can vary widely. Couples looking for relatively affordable opal engagement rings should communicate with local jewellers, allowing for a find that is truly unique. 


Quality Factors for Opal Engagement Ring Stones

Opals have a unique grading system, with special terminology that is used during appraisals. Such terminology is important to keep in mind when searching for engagement rings, as it can allow for a deeper understanding of your jewellery overall. When shopping online, keep in mind these particular qualities. 

Play of Colour

Look for an opal that has evenly-distributed colours across the stone.

The play-of-colour pattern known as harlequin is the most highly valued. It consists of a patchwork of diamond-shaped flashes spread across the entire stone. The diamond shapes should be large.

White opals will often demonstrate pinfire, a series of bright, colourful dots. Besides, any play-of-colour pattern that shows red is highly valued.


Shape Appeal

Choose an opal engagement ring stone with good shape appeal. Since most opals receive cabochon cuts, this usually means the stone should be symmetrical (not too slim or too wide if it’s an oval) and have a smooth, full dome.

The dome helps build the colour and fire of the stone, especially for paler opals, and it looks more harmonious. Therefore, make sure the dome isn’t dented or pointed, unless the stone has been cut into a sugarloaf shape. (Sugarloaf cabochons have a raised point, like a cone, or a ridge, like a mountain).


Thinner stones, especially white or crystal opals, may appear see-through if their fire isn’t strong enough to reflect light back into the viewer’s eyes. Ideally, an opal’s body colour or play of colour should be strong enough that the wearer’s skin colour isn’t readily visible through the stone when you put it on your hand.

Avoid Cloudy Opals

Cloudiness may signify that a stone is dry and about to crack. The stones which come from a source known to produce opals with high water content may have high chances to crack or craze. We will try our best to remove this kind of stone and protect the interest of our customers.


Money-Saving Options: Assembled and Synthetic Opals

For couples on a tight budget, assembled opals, either doublets or triplets, can make great engagement ring stone alternatives. These beautiful pieces can contain natural opal, and a clever setting can disguise their “assembly.” Assembled opals may also have greater wearability than other opal jewelry stones.

What are Assembled Opals?

Opal doublets are thin layers of opals glued to ironstone, onyx, or some other backing, which may be made of natural or synthetic materials. Jewelers may create these pieces when an opal is too thin or fragile for jewelry use on its own.

Opal triplets differ from doublets in that the opal layer is sandwiched between a dark backing and a domed, top layer of clear quartz. Since quartz has greater hardness than opal, it protects the opal from scratches and also makes the cabochon look fuller. Usually, jewelers use even thinner opals for triplets than doublets.

Opal Doublet Engagement Ring

[Doublet opal]Mens ring or Ladies Ring a Doublet Opal is the Gem for a Ring in Silver or Gold.

Classic opal engagement ring

[Triplet opal] A Natural Australian 10 mm x 8 mm Opal ring in a classic Stainless Steel Setting. The clean, elegant sophisticated style is sleek, well proportioned and has the 'white gold' finish resulting from the rhodium plating with a stunning effect.


Settings for Opal Engagement Ring Stones

Prong Settings

Jewellers usually set high-domed cabochons with prongs. This keeps the stone visible from the sides, so viewers can enjoy the opal from all angles.

Oval shapes require four prongs, while shapes like teardrops and triangles usually require three prongs, including at least one v-shaped prong to protect points from chipping.

Engagement ring


Bezel Settings

For flatter opals, jewellers may use bezel settings that wrap around the entirety of the stone. This offers the opal greater protection from chipping. Jewellers also apply epoxy to the bezel (or prongs) to help the gem stay in place and prevent the metal from damaging the opal during the setting process. Oil is used to prevent the epoxy from sticking permanently to the opal, in case the owner wants to reset the opal in the future.


Classy engagement ring

Open-Back Settings

Open backs have some disadvantages. They will leave the back of the opal vulnerable to damage, especially if the stone is uneven. Furthermore, the wearer’s skin or clothes will influence the colours of transparent to translucent opals in open back settings. Nevertheless, for a particularly valuable opal, buyers will often want an open back. This will demonstrate that the opal is indeed solid, not a doublet or triplet.

Closed-Back Settings

Closed settings will affect the colour of the opal depending on the colour of the backing. On the one hand, opals set in closed silver or white gold settings may look washed out and have a somewhat cooler tone. On the other hand, opals set in closed rose or yellow gold settings may appear warmer in tone, giving already warm-coloured opals an even stronger yellow saturation.


Engagement ring with opal stone


Photos are all products from Australian Opal Cutters. If you are interested in the opal rings, you are very welcome to come to our official website to choose your unique love.

Original author: Phoebe Shang, GG. A gem writer from the US.