The opal stands out among gemstones: while others sparkle, it shimmers; while most others are faceted, it’s round and polished; and, while most other stones display a single color, it dazzles with an array of hues. It’s these very qualities that make opal jewelry so extraordinary.
The opal isn’t content to display just one color; rather, it has an iridescent appearance that seems to contain every color of the rainbow. This unique appearance has inspired imaginations for millennia in locales spanning the globe. The Australian Aborigines have a legend that explains the origin of the opal: it tells of the creator coming down to earth on a rainbow. According to this story, the stones at the spot where his foot touched the ground came alive and began to sparkle in every color of the rainbow.
Stories like these are far from surprising when you see the intriguing God-given beauty of the opal. Although this gem has been admired for millennia, it wasn’t until the 1960s that a team of Australian scientists discovered that the opal’s one-of-a-kind good looks are a result of its structure, specifically the small spheres of hydrated silica (essentially, silica and oxygen) that are suspended in water within the stone. These particles diffract light in an array of colors, acting like tiny prisms that separate white light into a rainbow of colors. In other words, this stone was designed with inherent beauty.
The relatively high water content of opal means that this stone is a bit softer than many gems. While it may not be the best pick for a day when you know that it’s likely that your jewelry will take a beating, it’s not hard to care for: simply wipe it clean with a soft cloth to prevent its shine from growing dull.
The Aborigines are far from the only ones who were intrigued by the opal. The ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all admired this stone for its unique properties. Two millennia ago, in the first century AD, Pliny the Elder aptly described the unique, shimmering beauty of the opal:
“Made up of the glories of the most precious gems, to describe them is a matter of inexpressible difficulty. For there is amongst them the gentler fire of the ruby, there is the rich purple of the amethyst, there is the sea-green of the emerald, and all shining together in an indescribable union. Others, by an excessive heightening of their hues equal all the colors of the painter, others the flame of burning brimstone, or of a fire quickened by oil.”
Opal rings are stunning ways to wear this uniquely gorgeous gems. The Opal and Diamond Cluster Ring in 14K Yellow Gold has a sense of glamour and movement that makes it a welcome addition to nearly any jewelry collection. This chic style showcases a 0.29 carat oval-shaped opal in a setting of gleaming 14K yellow gold that dances around it like a warm embrace. On each side of this center stone is a cluster of small round diamonds that draw eyes to this elegant design.
The opal’s multi-hued beauty makes it an excellent pick when you’re looking to express that your love is far from static and that it’s adaptable to all occasions, no matter what life throws your way. A number of pieces of opal jewelry in Apples of Gold’s collection feature heart motifs, making it even easier to declare your affection with this stone of many colors.
For example, the Genuine Opal Heart Ring in 14K White Gold surrounds a 0.29-carat oval-shaped opal, 6mm high and 4mm wide, with a graceful heart of polished 14K white gold. This shining outline of the symbol of love leaves no question about this ring’s message as it sweeps around the center stone and coordinates organically with the gleaming band. Two small round diamonds accent this heart, one on each side, adding a touch of sparkle to this piece’s shimmer. This timelessly elegant style is perfect for celebrating a love that’s always in excellent taste. It’s also available in warm 14K yellow gold.
Opal pendants like the Real Opal Heart Pendant in 14K White Gold are also fitting expressions of love. Like the aforementioned opal heart ring, this simply romantic piece features a 6mm-high oval-shaped opal. Surrounded with the outline of a 14K white gold heart and accented with a single diamond, this piece is simply sweet and outright lovely.
If you’d prefer a pop of color with the subtle rainbow provided by the opal, don’t miss the Opal and Sapphire Ring in 14K Gold! This striking style pairs the light shimmer of the opal with the rich deep blue sparkle of 16 sapphires for a total of over three carats of gemstones. An eye-catching marquis-cut opal is the focal point of this sophisticated ring, and it’s framed by small round sapphires that outline it with saturated indigo dazzle. The contrast that’s created between these stones causes this piece to instantly draw the eye to its always-stunning good looks. A warm setting of 14K yellow gold provides the perfect foundation for this upscale style.
The multi-hued shimmer of the opal allows it to flatter an array of skin tones, making it a nearly fool-proof pick for gifts. For example, opal earrings such as the 4mm Opal Stud Earrings in 14K White Gold are versatile pieces that nearly any woman would appreciate.
While the opal is the birthstone for the month that’s just coming to a close, it’s far from merely a fall gemstone. Its ability to reflect an array of hues make it an excellent pick for every season—it pairs just as well with a breezy sundress as it does with a chunky sweater. And, as a bonus, it’s an affordable pick, giving you a lot of natural beauty for your buck.
Whether you choose it for its ability to complement nearly any color and skin tone, its season-spanning versatility, its wallet-friendly price or simply for its stunning shimmering beauty, the opal is a winning pick.