Australian opal is a renowned gemstone known for its stunning play-of-colour and has been used in jewelry for centuries. If you are interested in Australian opal jewelry, here’s what you should know:
Types of Australian Opal:
Black Opal: This is the most valuable and sought-after opal. It has a dark body colour, usually black or deep blue, which makes the vibrant play-of-colour really stand out.
Boulder Opal: Found in Queensland, it has the ironstone still attached to the back or in-between the opal itself. It can show brilliant colours.
White or Light Opal: Has a light body colour and is the most common type of opal.
Crystal Opal: Clearer than other types, it can be semi-transparent to transparent with a vibrant play-of-colour.
Matrix Opal: Opal that is interspersed within its host rock.
Value and Price Factors:
Brightness: The brighter the play-of-colour, the more valuable the opal.
Pattern: Unique patterns like harlequin or flagstone can be more valuable.
Size: Larger opals with brilliant play-of-colour are generally more valuable.
Body Tone: Darker body tones, especially in black opals, are often more sought-after.
Inclusions: Opals without inclusions or sand spots are more desirable.
Care and Maintenance:
Opals have a high-water content and can dry out and crack if exposed to heat or dry conditions for extended periods. Avoid direct sunlight and store in a damp cloth or in a sealed plastic bag.
Opals are relatively soft gemstones and can be scratched. Store them separately from other jewelry.
Avoid exposing opals to extreme temperature changes, which can cause them to crack.
Keep away from chemicals, including household cleaners and cosmetics.
Buying Australian Opal Jewelry:
Authenticity: Ensure you are buying genuine Australian opal. Some synthetic or treated opals are available in the market.
Reputation: Buy from reputable dealers or jewellers.
Certificates: Ask for a certificate of authenticity and details about the opal’s origin, type, size, and value.
Setting: Look for sturdy settings, especially if you are purchasing opal rings which might be subject to harder wear.
Opal rings, pendants, and earrings are popular choices. Due to their vibrant colours, opals are often set in simple designs to let the stone shine.
Opals can be set in yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, silver, or other metals.
Sometimes opals are paired with other gemstones like diamonds to enhance their beauty.
Historical and Cultural Significance:
For indigenous Australians, opals have spiritual significance and are believed to have healing properties.
Opals are also the birthstone for October.
When purchasing Australian opal jewelry, always ensure you are making an informed decision. Knowing the types of opals, understanding their value, and ensuring authenticity will help you choose a piece that you will cherish for a lifetime.