My husband surprised me on Mother’s Day with a beautiful antique, art nouveau opal ring with strong blue fire. It’s my first opal, and it’s lovely. I love it when he buys jewelry for me. I usually stick to my old faves – ruby, sapphire & garnet – but now I have a beautiful opal ring. I wanted to know more about opals.
Opal Ring Color
It is the play of colors within the opal that is so captivating. Unlike most gemstones, opals do not have a crystalline structure but are instead formed by a type of hardened jelly. As the stone cools fine films form with different refractive indices than the rest of the stone, so that light entering the stone is reflected in a array of color. While milky white opal is the most popular form, black opal is the valuable. Water opal is clear, and fire opal is red or yellow and does not always flash colors.
Opal Ring Cuts
Most opals are cut in the smooth, rounded cabochon style that best displays their iridescence. Fire opals are sometimes faceted.
Opal Ring Hardness
Opals measure a 5.5-6.5 on the Mohs scale of gem hardness in which talc is a 1 and diamond, the hardest known natural substance, is a 10. This means that opals are softer than many popular gemstones and special care must be taken to avoid damage like scratching and chipping.
Caring for Opal Rings
To avoid scratching or cracking opals, remove opal rings when doing housework, repairs or any other task that could cause your hands and ring to be knocked around. Also remove the ring when engaging in sports where the opal could be struck and damaged. When placing the opal ring in a jewelry organizer, use the ring slots provided so that the opal is not damaged by sharp metal prongs and clasps from other jewelry.
Because opal is porous, avoid immersing your opal ring in dirty or greasy liquid, such as dishwater. Exposure to heat can dry out the opal, and cold weather can cause it to shrink slightly, so make sure the opal is securely set in the ring.
Opal Ring Folklore
Ancient people believed that opals could free inhibitions, strengthen intuition and promote creativity in one who wore them.
Opals have been mined in Czechoslovakia and Mexico, but most of today’s opals hail from Australia. In fact, a few months ago my son asked me to read one of his books from The 39 Clues series in which a couple of kids explored the opal mines in Coober Pedy. Sounded awesome.