Opals for October

Here is the deal. I have a HUGE migraine and my Imitrex is not working. And when I’m in pain and there is little I can do about it, I like to drown my pain-ridden brain in beauty. Since October’s birthstone is the iridescent opal, I’ve passed the time today perusing jewelry featuring this most unusual stone.

The name opal is most likely a derivative of the Sanskrit word upala, the Greek opallios, and the Latin opalus, all of which just mean ‘precious stone.’ I’m glad the name stuck, considering it might otherwise just be called ‘hydrated silica glass,’ which is a far less pretty moniker.

Here is some educational mumbo-jumbo about opals from wikipedia:

Australia produces around 97% of the world’s opal. 90% is called ‘light opal’ or white and crystal opal. White makes up 60% and all the opal fields produce white opal; Crystal opal or pure hydrated silica makes up 30%; 8% is black and only 2% is boulder opal.

The town of Coober Pedy in South Australia is a major source of opal. Common, water, jelly, and fire opal are found mostly in Mexico and Mesoamerica. Another Australian town, Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, is the main source of black opal, opal containing a predominantly dark background (dark-gray to blue-black displaying the play of color).

Boulder opal is found sporadically in western Queensland, from Kynuna in the north, to Yowah and Koroit in the south.

A source of white base opal in the United States is Spencer, Idaho. A high percentage of the opal found there occurs in thin layers. As a result, most of the production goes into the making of doublets and triplets.

Okay, enough of that. On to the opals!

Opal Ring

This simple white gold opal ring would make a lovely engagement ring or even a wedding band, IMO.

Gold and Opal Ring

Or, if white on white isn’t your thing, you could try a yellow gold and blue opal ring, which is a bit more striking.

But why limit yourself to finger candy?

14 K Genuine Opal Earrings

A nice set of opal and white gold earrings can really compliment your wedding ensemble.

11 Responses to “Opals for October”

  1. kelley October 7, 2006 at 1:21 pm #

    Huh, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as blue opal. Something new everyday; who says fashion blogs do not enrich the intellect?

    And now, since you have reminded me about jewelry and all of the shiny, sparkly, platinum-set sundry that sings my name and beckons, I shall go peruse Tiffany.

    My husband does not thank you.

  2. fannypie October 7, 2006 at 1:27 pm #

    Hope you’re feeling better today, NtB! Migraines are decidedly not fabulous.

    My mom gave me an opal ring for my 16th birthday – we went to a jeweler and I picked out the opal myself. More than 10 years later, it’s still one of my very favorite pieces of jewelry. The stone is a brilliant, fiery blue – a little lighter in color than the one in the second ring above. One interesting thing the jeweler told us: it’s not unheard of for jewelers assembling things with opals (especially bezel-set) to paint the back of the stone black so it brings out more color. He didn’t want to do that with mine, so since the opal was to be set in silver, he had me lay any stone I was interested in against a sheet of white paper so I could be sure about the color.

    Definitely something to think about when you buy any kind of loose stone – they will generally show them on black velvet under great light to bring out the best color, but it’s worth looking at your favorite against a different background so you aren’t disappointed later.

  3. Stacy October 9, 2006 at 10:55 am #

    I love opals, they’re one of my favorite stones.

    I would be wary of it as an engagement ring, though. I’m so rough on my jewelery (I’ve smacked my ring around, steamed it in the oven, dropped it more than once…). I’d just be afraid an opal wouldn’t be sturdy enough as an engagement ring.

    I adore that blue opal, though. So lovely. I also love the black opals with the rainbow colors.

  4. La BellaDonna October 9, 2006 at 12:11 pm #

    Stacy is right; the opal is beautiful, but I think it crumbles in at about a 4.5-5.5 on the Mohs scale (Wikipedia says 6; YMMV), a little harder than glass. This means that when you store opal jewelry, it needs to be kept away from anything harder, which can scratch or fracture it. You also need to be very, very careful about what you dunk your opal in, as it’s an absorptive stone; water is OK, but not oil or glycerine (think “hand lotion”), and I’d be very leary about soap, which can be drying (yes, your opal can dry out – it needs to be kept in a high-humidity environment). Your opal will be happy if you put it on a damp papertowel in a sealed plastic bag. I believe an opal engagement ring (or non-engagement ring, for that matter) would be the kind of ring that would need to be removed whilst doing dishes or other forms of cleaning, or heavy lifting. If you’re the sort of person who is apt to take rings off and leave them, it would be a consideration. I too am a ringsmacker; I can wear opal rings only occasionally. There’s a strong probability that I would need a bezel-set stone for an engagement ring, just to keep the stone(s) safe!

  5. Never teh Bride October 9, 2006 at 1:18 pm #

    Stacy: I have to ask…why was your engagement ring in the oven?

    Everyone else: Great info!!!!

  6. Dataceptionist October 9, 2006 at 10:13 pm #

    opals are a no no for water, they go cloudy.

  7. Khordipour October 10, 2006 at 2:09 pm #

    White Opals have such an interesting color pattern.

  8. Modgonne October 11, 2006 at 1:26 pm #

    Very, very fragile things and very beautiful. As an October birthday, opals tend to make up the jewlery I am given.

    If you’re into ‘meanings’ behind the stones at all, keep in mine that they are traditionally considered bad luck.

  9. Stacy October 11, 2006 at 5:15 pm #

    Haha!

    It was on my hand at the time, and I reached in check on the doneness of something. Lifted the foil off the pan. Poof! Steam :) It gets steamed over pots, too; I’m a hovering cook.

    However, I’ve gotten into the habit of taking it off when I cook now, since I’m paranoid I’ll drop it down the garbage disposal.

  10. Dianne October 25, 2006 at 4:53 pm #

    I wanted an opal for my eng. ring. I didn’t get it because my husband wanted a stone taht sat high like a typical eng. ring. Opals are too fragile for that and to wear with everyday use. They are better mounted IN a ring. So I got a tanzanite which I love. But yeah – no high settings for opals and everyday use.

  11. Never teh Bride October 30, 2006 at 2:34 pm #

    Tanzanite is so cool!