OPAL JEWELLERY - THE ULTIMATE GUIDE
Australian Opal jewellery is stunning and unique in both colour and beauty. Australian Opal comes in a huge range with so many types and variations. In this “ultimate guide to Opal jewellery”, we will cover types of Opal jewellery, the types of Opals, variations in ring settings, and where to buy the best Opal jewellery in Australia (or anywhere in the world).
Types of Opal Jewellery
Australian Opal is a versatile gemstone. Because every single Opal is unique you will not see a lot of mass production, more individually designed pieces with uniquely styled settings to match each hand-cut Opal gemstone. This actually works out perfectly, as you really want a piece of jewellery that reflects your individual style and taste and not just some “machine made” (Pandora-style) mass consumer item. You are unique and so is your Opal!
Men’s and Women’s Opal Jewellery
Australian Opal is popular across the gender divide. As Opal is individual and unique and (unlike Diamond, Emerald or Ruby) has not developed “stereotypes” Opal can be fashioned to provide jewellery pieces that are masculine or feminine modern or ‘antique’ (classic) with equal ease and adaptability. Boulder Opal looks fantastic on men when designed in a silver or leather bracelet, or a beautiful Black Opal "Boss ring" that will 'blow away' anyone who looks at it, and as with women’s designs Opal really is conducive to a multitude of styles and tastes from Victorian, to Art Deco or a modern/contemporary design.
Opal Rings truly show off their colour beautifully as they are constantly moving and turning and catch the light allowing the rainbow colours to dance and leap off your hand! You will get a lot of those “wow” comments when you wear an Opal ring!. You can wear Opal every-day, it is so versatile!. You can swim in it, shower, do the dishes. Just remember that any gemstone will crack or chip if it comes into contact with a hard surface (even Diamond) so make sure you have a strong setting. This is why bezel settings are great for Opal. The boundary of Gold or Platinum that surrounds the gemstone acts as a 'wall' keeping the Opal safe and secure.
Opal Pendants are simply stunning. A “boulder” Opal necklace (or pendant) will be absolutely unique as every Boulder Opal is strikingly unique in cut, colour, pattern and shape!. No-one else will have anything like you!
Make sure you purchase an Opal with a good value representation across the 14 characteristics of valuation (see www.Opalinfo.com for more information).
Crystal Opals are popular for necklaces as the clear 'crystal' appearance reflects the gold and tends to be able to be worn daily with a wide variety of colours and 'styles'.
Crystal Opals from Coober Pedy or Andamooka are the type of Opals most commonly used for earring designs as these are the most able to be cut into matching pairs. In very rare cases Boulder Opals can "split" along the seam allowing a matching earring pair however these are very precious and difficult to find.
The Romans prized Opals, ranking them second only to emeralds, and believed them to bring good luck to the owner. The Romans also believed these gems symbolised hope and purity. For centuries (pre 1900) Opals were the engagement ring of choice and highly valued. It is alleged that De Beers commissioned a book by Sir Walter Scott that was about a cursed Opal that King Alfonso XII of Spain received in a ring from a vengeful comtesse he had previously courted. This story was a powerful form of marketing for its time (well before movies, posters, or social media) and this book greatly influenced the purchase of Opal rings and helped create the phenomenon of the 'diamond invention (the Diamond engagement ring culture). Today however Opal engagement rings are returning!
Black Opal rings
Australian Black Opal Rings are gorgeous. Deep Black base tones with Opal colour displaying oranges, greens, blues and flashes of red, pink and indigo. An intense Opal "fire" that really mesmerises can be worth many tens of thousands of dollars. The origin of Black Opal is a small 30km square field in North Western N.S.W. called "Lightning Ridge". In this field in New South Wales, Australia is the only place on earth where Black Opal is mined.
Many online stores however stock a form of fake Black Opal, dyed treated Ethiopian Opal which is visibly unrecognisable from the original yet is prone to cracking and losing its colour (because the dying treatment can be affected or reversed by household chemicals)
The “hallmark” is one of the most important parts of the ring as the inner “stamp” engraved into the inside of the ring (or pendants) shank provides the makers confirmation of the quality and type of metal (alloy) used to make the ring. You can ask your jeweller to check the hallmark and let you know what it is, if you really want to test your jeweller ask: “do you know what percentage of nickel is used in the alloy” as any percentage over 17% may add to skin irritations with those who have allergies to Nickel.
Silver Opal Rings
Knowing the mechanics behind historical silver prices in terms of how the metal changes hands can be useful in understanding why and how its price changes. Silver "Bullion" is traded in dollars and cents per ounce, with market activity taking place worldwide at all hours, resulting in a "live" silver price.
The generations old method to invest is to buy jewellery! The value of the metals underpins the billion dollar jewellery industry worldwide and it is worth noting the actual metal weight and value held in your precious silver jewellery designs.
Opal Rings in White Gold
White gold was originally developed to imitate platinum (a naturally white metal). White gold is usually an alloy containing about 75% gold and about 25% nickel and zinc. If stamped 18 karat, it would be 75% pure gold. Often a 'white gold' result is achieved by taking yellow gold and then using ‘Rhodium Plating’ to turn it white.
Australian Opal Cutters provide this rhodium plating service at No Charge! Rhodium is a more expensive metal than Palladium. However, less Rhodium is needed in Rhodium Plating than Palladium is needed in White Gold. We are able to ensure a lifetime of white brilliance through free rhodium plating and our lifetime service guarantee of at-cost servicing. You can send the item to us and we will return it looking spectacular. Platinum is more expensive than White Gold, and white gold will still require Rhodium plating to really look "white". See more of our Opal Rings.
Australian Opal Cutters actually cut and set Australian Opals as matching earring “pairs” (Which is extremely difficult) and with the largest range of Opals in Australian they are able to find a matching pair of earrings to suit you and your budget.
Black Opal Necklaces
A Black Opal Necklace (or pendant) is arguably the most significant, elegant, noteworthy, and simply beautiful piece of jewellery a human can wear. Australian Black Opals with gem patterns and colour are as rare as pink diamonds, yet at a fraction of the price (Pink diamonds sell at $250,000+ per carat).
There are only 100 miles of tanzanite mines currently in production. The Diamond industry is currently successfully mining 100,000 miles in diamond mines, so Tanzanite therefore is 1000 x rarer than diamond. There are however only 20 miles black Opal which makes Opal 5 x rarer than Tanzanite and 5000 x rarer than diamond!
You could say that Black Opal represents 1% of 1% of all gems produced globally and arguably the #1 rarest commercially available gemstone on earth!
It is no wonder then that a gem Black Opal pendant surrounded by brilliant diamonds is a rare and valuable treasure!
Opal Piercings (Nose Rings and Studs)
Opal Nose Rings have been popular in Eastern Nations for thousands of years. From the beginning of antiquity. To design a Nose Ring is a simple matter of selecting the Opal, sketching a design and having the jeweller manufacture it. Then you will have an absolutely unique and precious piece of bespoke jewellery.
Brought to the country in the 16th Century from the Middle East by the Moghul emperor. The piercings traditionally honour coming of age, or marriageability. The tradition extended to other parts of Asia and arrived through European punk culture to Britain in the 80s. Again, just choose your Opal and we can have it set as nose stud.
If you’re looking for something quite different, consider a new style of Opal watch. We have a range of Opal watches in a variety of colours and styles.
Opal Jewellery as you want it – bespoke designs
Australian Opal is versatile and Australian jewellers are available to design...anything! whatever you can imagine they can create so if you have an amazing, original bracelet design...or
If you don't want an Opal pendant, or a white gold crystal Opal ring, if you aren't inspired by a triplet Opal bracelet or Gem Doublet Opal earrings in sterling silver then perhaps you could consider making a bespoke piece of jewellery!
The “industry” term for this is a “bespoke” piece of jewellery. This can be an exciting and refreshing process and will give you a piece of jewellery that is“yours”, something that you have actually had a part in creating. This makes ‘bespoke’ jewellery extremely meaningful and makes your jewellery that more precious and sentimental.
Types of Opals
The "Opal Hunters" series has dramatically increased interest in Australia's National Gemstone seeing interest increase from Paris and New York. More significantly is the increase in interest in Australian Opal as an engagement ring gemstone (typically in Platinum, White Gold or Yellow Gold). This is an exciting new development as people are looking for a more environmentally friendly gemstone that is "conflict-free" (For more information see the movie "Blood diamond" with Leonardo Di Caprio).
Black Opals with gem colour and a pattern are 5,000 rarer than Diamonds. 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.
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 dollars to many thousands of dollars for rich broad multicoloured examples.
White Opals have found a particular popularity worldwide (and particularly in countries such as the United States), with many White Opals selected for engagement rings as they are considered “elegant”. White Opals are opaque but can have a slightly translucent appearance. Top-quality “gem” white Opal displays an even, distinct pattern of colour and will display brilliant ‘flashes’ of fire colour.
Boulder Opal is mined with its host ironstone or sandstone still attached and has 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! An engagement ring is typically a more “classic” or “traditional” style and as Boulder Opal is incredibly rare and asymmetrical it is quite rare for a Boulder to be selected for an engagement ring setting.
Fire Opals are Opals from Mexico or Brazil and are prized for their beautiful orange, yellow, and red “fire”, and hues. The most valuable specimens have a vibrant and fiery red or orange hue, and uniform colour. Milkiness is sometimes however seen if the Opal dries out (which for this type of Opal can unfortunately lead to crackin)g. While fire Opals may often lack the play of colour seen so prominently in Black Opal, shoppers prize “fire Opals” for their beautiful hues and generally lower price however these are less popular for an engagement ring as they are prone to cracking and therefore not as desirable.
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 qualities.
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.
Opal is the traditional October birthstone, is believed to have originated in India (the source of the first Opals brought to the Western world), where in Sanskrit it was called upala, a “precious stone." .” In ancient Rome, this became Opalus. Most Opals are valued for their constantly shifting colors rainbow hues – a phenomenon known as “play-of-color.” and amazing 'recognisable' patterns (which are extremely rare).
The October birthstone’s dramatic play-of-color has inspired writers to compare it to fireworks, galaxies and volcanoes. Bedouins once believed Opal held lightning and fell from the sky during thunderstorms. Ancient Greeks thought Opals bestowed the gift of prophesy and protection from disease. Europeans long maintained Opal to be a symbol of purity, hope and truth. Hundreds of years ago, Opal was believed to embody the virtues and powers of all colored stones.
Beware Fake Opals!
Do you know that an astounding percentage of gemstones that we wear in daily life have been created by humans in a laboratory? Man-made gemstones do not mean low quality, that they are usually higher quality than those found in nature, but with cheaper prices. It is only ever a problem if they are sold as genuine natural gemstones and the created in a laboratory part is intentionally omitted or ignored. “Natural” gemstones are formed in nature with no human interference. Read this to know how to spot the difference.
Opal Ring Designs & Settings
If you are looking for a special custom designed Opal ring, here ae some of the settings to consider in crafting your idea.
“Claw Setting” is the most common form of setting, typically four claws are the ‘standard’ however six or eight claw settings are also popular.
“Bezel Setting” is where a gemstone is completely surrounded or framed with the alloy. This is a very secure setting (with a gem unlikely to ever fall out of a bezel setting).
“Shoulder” is the term used for the upper sides of the ring and where most variations in design occur.
The ring is known as the “shank” and finally “hallmark” is one of the most important parts of the ring as the inner “stamp” engraved into the inside of the ring (or pendants) shank provides the makers confirmation of the quality and type of metal (alloy) used to make the ring.
Also known as a “claw setting” or “common prong” setting. Gemstones share prongs, variations on this theme are the 6, 8 and 12 claw 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.
Creating a close setting and a clean line of brilliance the “Bezel Setting” is perhaps the most secure form of gem setting. A metal rim gently secures a gemstone in place by the girdle. The bezel setting guards the gem from damage, a light hole at the base allows brilliance to scintillate within the gem. 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.
“Open-Back Settings” have some advantages. For a particularly valuable Opal, buyers will often want an open back to demonstrate that the Opal is indeed solid, not a doublet or triplet. A tradition for as long as Opals have been cut is to leave the back of an Opal exposed with a hint of the original sand or potch visible. This is your guarantee of authenticity, that this is a natural Opal (not a synthetic).
“Closed-Back Settings” will often enhance the colour of the Opal, diamond or gemstone depending on the colour of the backing. On the one hand, Opals set in closed silver or white gold settings may look clearer or lighter 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.
A “Channel Setting” is a series of diamonds mounted in a groove carved out in the precious metal. A hole, positioned below the gem, is left open in the channel to allow light in. This is a very elegant method of displaying matching accent gemstones. A variation on this is the “Bar Channel Setting” where individual precious metal bars run perpendicular along the ring. The bars are molded around a gem to lock it in place.
To create a “brilliant” surface multiple gemstones are positioned next to one another. Diamonds are set with small beads Narrow strips of metal lift the diamond up, maximizing light to the gem. This is known as “pave Setting” gemstones are accented by the points of alloy and add to the overall effect with the points becoming extensions of the gemstones.
Lastly if you really want to impress your friends, and get a great discount from the jeweller learn how to use a “loupe”. Every jeweller will have one of these and these are a great tool for looking right up close at an item of jewellery...and when you use a loupe it is likely that you will find imperfections in gems and the setting giving you a great case for a further discount! Read more on Opal designs.
Why Opal Jewellery?
Opals are extremely rare and valuable, rarer than Diamond and less expensive than fine Jade. Australian Opal is a brilliant investment as the popularity of this Gemstone just keeps increasing.
Millionaires and Billionaires, Kings and Queens, the Hollywood Rich and Famous have looked at Opal pendants with a keen fascination, viewing their colours as an almost ‘divine’ creation. These natural wonders were prized among many for their vivid colours and were used throughout history as a necklace or "pendant" as declarations of wealth, power, and love.
The creation of Opal colour is unique, this is the only Gem on earth where you can (literally) ‘Hold a Rainbow in your hand’ and Opal pendants are extremely rare! There is only one Opal pendant gemstone found for every 1000 diamond pendants.
In the 1970’s Opal triplets became popular for use in pendants in base metal, silver and 9 carat gold. The thin slices of Opal were also set into low priced tourist items. Koalas, Kangaroos and Opera Houses set with Opals and worn as pendants as a fun and inexpensive momento of Australia.
Opal is formed when water containing dissolved silica seeps within beds of Australian soil, where the elements of water and silica are deposited into cracks deep within the earth (often caused by natural faults, or decomposing fossils). As the water subsequently evaporates, the silica particles react and become ‘cemented’ together, forming the structure known as Opal.
This is an interesting and unique process, as the colour and beauty of these gemstones are dependent on chance, making them a gem that is incredibly rare. The structure of the silica is entirely responsible for the Opal’s colour and vibrancy, as the light will bend around the silica structure in order to produce the variety of radiant colours that the gem is known for. This process is similar to other gemstones, in regard to how the mineral interacts with light; the colour of a gemstone is a direct result of how the gem absorbs light.
Overall, minerals, in general, have different ways of absorbing light, and therefore will result in different colours and variations. The same is true for Opals. However, unlike other gemstones, Opal is not a mineral, as it contains no crystalline structure. Rather, it is comprised of microscopic spheres of silica, and is arranged in an orderly pattern; this means that, although Opal produces colour through light like other gemstones, the colours require structure within the rock in order to form, as the light will bend around the obstacle (the silica pattern) in order to create a unique design! This is why no natural Opal is the same.
It may be Australia’s National Gemstone however the fame and fortune of the Australian Opal is just beginning. This is a gem that has a lot to offer the world stage and a long way to go before any Opal is sold for its true value!
Best place to buy Opal jewellery – Australian Opal Cutters
Buying Opals in Australia can be a challenging adventure. With Opal stores in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide it can be challenging to find what you are looking for. Australian Opal Cutters in Sydney understand this and have made the process very easy through stocking a massive range and (as they have supplied the retail stores for over 40 years) understand what you will be looking for and are sure to have it. "in stock". With a 5 star #1 rating on Trip Advisor Australian Opal Cutters have literally helped over 1 million customers from over 32 nations find exactly what they are looking for at a budget that they can afford!
The Australian Opal cutters online store is a great place to start, with. a Great range of 2700+ products, Good value, great prices, discounts, special offers!
Quality is what differentiates Australian Opal cutters from the rest. When you think of quality you think of “old-fashioned” craftsmanship. Australian Opal Cutters jewellers have a strict quality control policy that includes checking for minute burr marks, setting strength, level and proportion, the solidity and gluing of stone settings, checking that there is no movement or any “looseness” in the gem setting, Australian Opal Cutters company policy is “we do not rest until you are happy”.
Every piece of Jewellery from Australian Opal Cutters comes with a certificate of authenticity, providing you with 100% complete confidence in the quality of your purchase. Every 2 years we re-evaluate your purchase free of charge and send you an updated certificate. The international lifetime warranty covers all workmanship and manufacturing. We also have an “at cost” replacement guarantee for any accidental damage or loss.
To ensure that you are completely satisfied, as part of Australian Opal Cutters’ customer service policy we will gladly repair goods, replace goods or refund the cost of the goods, at no cost to the you, for defects in materials or workmanship faults for up to 2 years from the original date of purchase. (link to more detail)
The warranty (above) means that most service tasks such as Rhodium Plating, Polishing, Tightning claws or adjusting gems, even polishing out a scratch in your Opal or on your ring, pendant or earrings will be completed "at cost" or absolutely free. This is a genuine family business response to fair use of your beloved Opal gemstone jewellery!
Order online, fast delivery
When you order online Australian Opal Cutters will typically ship the same day or the next business day. The Australian Opal Cutters Team are friendly and available 24x7 via chat or email and will work to get you what you need, when you need it and solve any problems along the way.
“I walked into Australian Opal cutters with no real expectations of having such of an amazing experience. All staff members were so professional, kind and knowledgeable. I would highly recommend them to anyone and i have been doing so ever since. Thank you Giovanni and the whole team for all your help!!”
“I went to a few different Opal stores in Sydney before buying from here and I think this is the best place to buy Opals because of their selection, knowledge, and friendly customer service.”
For more related information see: Opals