Jewel of the month: Opal
The heart of the Ocean
Known for their unique interplay of colors, opals have a rainbow-like iridescence unlike any other gemstone. Formed when hydrated silicon dioxide seeps into fractures of underground sedimentary rock, opals are simply hardened silica spheres. In fact, that little silica packet in your vitamin bottle is actually the same substance that forms this beautiful gemstone. It’s the light refraction from the opal’s arrangement of the silica spheres that creates its stunning spectrum of colors similar to a crystal ball.
Depending on your budget and color preference, the options are endless when it comes to opals. The most common opals have a milky white tone, a mesmerizing pearly luster, and an approachable price point. Fire opals flash warm colors of yellow, orange, and red, while Peruvian opals are ablaze with iridescent shades of blue-green. The magnificent black opal is the rarest of all opals, with a price tag to match their scarcity.
Because of its mystical appearance, ancient civilizations regarded opals as talismans of good fortune. Ancient Greeks believed opals had prophetic powers, and thought the stones were formed from Zeus’s tears of joy after he defeated the Titans. During the Middle Ages, amulets of opal were worn to protect vision and memory. Today, metaphysical healers use opals to promote a sense of calm, ease stress, and alleviate depression.
Australia has nearly 95 percent of the modern opal supply. The Olympic Australis, the world’s most valuable opal, was discovered thirty feet underground in Coober Pedy, South Australia. Weighing a whopping seventeen-thousand carats, this impressive pinfire opal is valued at $2 million USD, making it the most expensive opal in the world. Ethiopia is the second largest producer of the stone, and these mines produce some of the highest grade fire opals and black opals on the market.
You might be surprised to learn that opal engagement rings have recently become popular for brides looking for a dreamy alternative to diamonds. The stone’s iridescence makes it a stunning choice for an ethereal and budget-friendly option for couples looking to make a statement.
Curious to check out this unusual stone? Stop by the Carats Fine Jewelry & Watches showroom, where you can peruse our collection or work with our Master Jeweler to design a custom opal piece of your own.