Raise your hand if you want some education. Anyone? No? Yes?
Show and Tell
Time to chat about one of my favorite subjects. Jewels. Precious stones. Things that sparkle and shine.
When I was in college I had a part-time job at a high end jewelry boutique in La Jolla.
I spent my days trying on jewelry and learned a fair amount, too. Mostly I learned how much I love sparkly things, ha ha!
Today we feature the Opal.
The Opal Backstory
Historically, October’s birthstone has been accused (wrongly) of bringing bad luck. History and Lore of Opal is a great read to dispel any fears or superstitions.
Opal is an amorphous form of silica , not a mineral. The water content is between six percent and twenty percent. It’s deposited at a relatively low temperature and may occur in the fissures of almost any kind of rock; most commonly found with limonite, sandstone, rhyolite, marl and basalt. Opal is the national gemstone of Australia, which produces 97% of the world’s supply.
The internal structure of precious opal makes it diffract light; depending on the conditions in which it formed it can take on many colors. Precious opal ranges from clear through white, gray, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, magenta, rose, pink, slate, olive, brown, and black. Of these hues, the reds against black are the most rare, whereas white and greens are the most common. It varies in optical density from opaque to semi-transparent.
Precious opal shows a variable interplay of internal colors and even though it’s a mineraloid, it has an internal structure.
Play of color
The opal’s iridescence is mesmerizing. The most valuable opals have a vibrant play of color without any “dead” or white spots. Exactly which colors the opal reflects also affects its value. The most highly prized colors are red, orange yellow, green, and blue. The more colors a gemstone includes, the more valuable it is.
Bright flashes of color
In addition to color, the amount of light an opal reflects helps to determine value. The most valuable opals sparkle with bright flashes of color.
Don’t soak your opal in water; no dishwashing, no gardening, no rough treatment,
Treat an opal as you would a delicate and precious flower. Every once in a while, rub a little vegetable oil into the stone, which’ll help prevent it from drying out.
Why all this talk about opal?
My mom had given me a pair of opal stud earrings.
They weren’t very large, but they magically flashed
with all the colors of the rainbow, and the captain
was bewitched by the idea of a gem with ocean-liike colors.
Before he went out to sea for this (very long) assignment, he gave me this beautiful opal ring me for our nineteenth wedding anniversary. It’s custom-made and vintage — I found it at one of my favorite shops in downtown San Diego, and asked them place it on hold until my tugboat man could take a look. He fell it love too — I like to think it was a “rescue” and she’s now in a good home. I took a series of photos of her posed like a movie star on the pearl encrusted mirror that I crafted a few days ago.
She is breath-taking; magnificent and stunning. I really feel like a princess when I wear it, which isn’t very often, because as beautiful as opals are, they are slightly fragile.
It looks like I have a matched set!
Against an orange Hermes backdrop