The month of October has two birthstones, tourmaline and opal…I did a post in August regarding the beautiful tourmaline so that leaves opal for this post, not a bad second choice…point of interest the Hindu birthstone for October is Coral. As with other post this will be in short form, allowing it to be read easier and quickly.
- 14th and 18th anniversary gift
- Fragile hydrated silica material
- Opal is from the Greek Opallos, “to see a change (of colour)”. Also found…from the Latin word opalus, -which means “stone”.
- Multi coloured stone, ranging from milky white to black, with flashes of blue, green, red and orange.
- Most opals are 50 – 65 million years old, dating back to the dinosaur age
- Two kinds of opals, common and precious which is determined by how the stone is formed
- Opal has “types” under the common and precious umbrella, the name is determined by the kind, place occurred and the color of the body of the stone, they are Dark or Black Opal, White or Light Opal, Milk or Crystal Opal, Boulder Opal, Opal Matrix, Yowah Nuts from Queensland and the Mexican and Fire Opal…
- Almost 95% of all the quality opal comes from the dry outback area in Australia.
- Black Opal from New South Wales, most rare, very valuable, a good quality black opal often costs more per carat than a diamond
- The most significant deposit of the orange/red Fire Opal is found in Mexico. The color comes from traces of iron oxide. A yellow to orange opal was found in Brazil, sometimes slightly cloudy, and without any play of colour.
- There have been opal finds in Honduras, Guatemala, USA, Canada Australia, Ethiopia and Turkey, but these produce very little.
- Crystal type opals are transparent… milky opals, which are opaque are most common and usually the least expensive.
- The Opal has the same chemical make up as quartz but with 5 to 10 percent more water. Basically the stone is made up of round particles with water filling in the rest of the area. The flashes of colour, what the Opal is known for are due to this combination of water and particles. These flashes are referred to as the “play of light”.
- The amount of water in an opal is what keeps it shiny and flashing. Loss of water can result in a dull appearance to the opal… it is said for this reason opal miners would store their rough product in water. Maybe opals should be stored this way?
- Due to the amount of water in the opal they are susceptible to becoming brittle; therefore they should not be stored around heat and should be worn often as the moisture in both the air and skin will help to keep the opal hydrated.
- I’ve always like the Opal, but I’ve not found it to be a popular stone from a selling stand point. In fact I don’t ever recall anyone asking for something made with Opal gems. I wonder why that is…
- I’ve used the common milky opaque opals in jewelry designs, while less expensive they are pretty…it is the crystal, precious opals that are truly gorgeous with their “play of light”.
NOTE: I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all my wonderful customers who showed their support at North Bay Farmers’ Market this season, your presence was appreciated…don’t hesitate to contact me if there is anything you want or need!
As always, if you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to contact me directly!
***Thank you to Maryanne Fender of FenderMinerals for allowing me to use her fabulous opal photos!