The opal ring a fascinating stone, but which of all the precious stones, is certainly the most difficult to choose to be mounted on a jewel.
It is indeed complicate to give a physical description of the opals as they vary in color, transparency and reflections according to the country of origin and often even, vary enormously according to the mine of extraction.
Unlike a ruby or a diamond for which it is easy to compare prices according to a few, all opal ring stones are unique in their colors and play of light.
So you will have to look for the jewel with opal that suits you best by comparing the stones at your disposal according to your budget.
Their composition makes them very delicate to cut and fragile when worn on rings or bracelets which are the jewels most exposed to blows.
This article aims to guide you in your choice of stone by presenting you with all the useful information to create your jewelry with opal ring
Composition and origins of opal ring
Opals are not crystals, but amorphous silica containing a variable part of water. It is the silica spheres which, by diffracting the light, are responsible for the light effects of the noble opals.
Their general color varies enormously according to their composition and therefore according to the nature of the soil where they were form.
Unlike other gemstones which are enhance when light passes through them, opals can be opaque and yet exhibit exceptional color reflections as a result of the diffraction of incident light.
We therefore often find very beautiful opals on jewelry in the form of bezel set cabochons.
Opals can be opaque or translucent, black, white or red and may or may not have play of light.
Here are the different types of opal ring you may be interest in for your jewelry:
- The noble opals: of variable colors, they present the play of light so sought after by opals, they are also the most expensive. The majority of them come from Australia.
- Fire opals: translucent, their color varies from pale yellow to bright orange and most often come from Mexico, they are also more affordable than noble opals. There are also noble fire opals, which are more expensive.
- Common opals: of variable color, they are opaque and do not show any play of light, in doing so they are economical to mount on a jewel or constitute an adornment for a more affordable price.
- Doublet or triplet composite opals: these stones are not natural but made from pieces of natural opals too small to be mount as is on a jewel. These assemblies make it possible to obtain large opals with natural play of light for a much lower price than that of natural opals of the same size. They are generally more expensive, however, than common opals.
Composite opals are made partly of natural opal on which is glued a black mineral support (onyx, tinted glass or other). Triplet opal is cover with a layer of quartz to protect it, quartz being much more resistant to dust abrasion and blows than bare opal.
- Opal imitations: this is an artificial stone containing glitter imitating the luminous reflections of a real opal. It is easily recognize because it does not present the diffuse colors of a noble opal.
Here are the different shapes opals can take on jewelry:
- Cabochon: oval or free in shape depending on the stone, the cabochon has a flat side to sit the stone on the setting and a domed part, the most luminous or colored side of the stone. In the case of this photo, it is oval-shape Peruvian pink opals and a free-form Boulder opal.
- Rough opal: the opal is freed from its matrix of rock, but retains the shape given by the rock cavity in which it was form. Some noble opals too small to be cut can be set as is on a ring or as a pendant. The stone in the following photo is a translucent noble opal in a rough shape that is too small and irregular to be cut into one of the classic jewelry shapes: round, oval or pear. The light effects of the opal are obvious whereas the photographs tend to show only a fraction of the reflections given by the stones.
- Cut opal: it is generally the fire opals which can present plays of light which are cut in the shape of an oval, round, or pear. They can be cut with facets or not as seen with the two opals below. The one on the left is perfect for mounting on a ring while the one on the right may be suitable for a pendant or earrings.
- Opal canters : the opal is still imprison in its matrix of rock where it was form. We can clearly see in this photo the play of light of this noble opal trapped in the rock. This one is perfect to be mount as a pendant.
Type of setting on jewel opals
the wide variety of opal, only two or three types of settings are mostly use to mount stones on jewelry.
Opaque opals will accept all types of mounts, whether prong, bezel set or mass set.
Since the light cannot pass through these stones, it is the light incident on the exposed face of the stone which, once diffracted, will give the play of light of the noble opal.
Maintenance of opals
Opals are particularly fragile stones and are easily scratch.
Their hardness is 6 (on the Moss scale ) while most dusts have a hardness of 7.
In comparison, the diamond has a hardness of 10, the sapphires and rubies a hardness of 9, the emerald a hardness of 8.
You will understand why precious stones such as rubies, sapphires and diamonds are renown for their lifespan, they are the hardest stones.
This is why wearing opals on hand jewelry (rings and bracelets) must be accompanied by special attention.
Manual activities should be avoid when wearing your jewelry with opals, especially household chores (cooking, washing up, DIY, storage).
Opals are also sensitive to chemicals such as perfumes and cleaning products.
Here again, handling cleaning products (dish washing liquid, strippers) should be avoid if you wear rings or bracelets with opals.
As for necklaces, pendants and earrings set with opals, you will have to put them on after you have perfumed yourself so as not to spray them with perfume.
Because they contain water, they are also very sensitive to heat and humidity.
You must avoid at all costs to put them near a fireplace or a radiator (or any other source of heat) at the risk of dehydrating them, which can lead to fractures of the opal of your jewelry or to tarnishing of it if it is a translucent opal.
Likewise if you are going on a trip, check the climate of your destination.
A sudden change to a dry climate could affect the look of your opal jewelry.
To clean your jewelry with opals, avoid any utensil that could potentially scratch the stone or chemical product that could alter it.
The best thing is to use a soft, damp cloth to rub the stone.
If your opal is scratch, you can take it to a lapidary to polish it again. Attention, it is important to entrust it to a lapidary experimenting with opals, since the polishing of its stones is delicate, it requires a particular know-how.
Choose your opal ring to create your jewel
For all the reasons previously mention, opals are not recommend when it comes to buying or creating an engagement or wedding ring that will be worn every day (for this type of jewel, hard precious stones such as diamonds, ruby, sapphire and emerald).
If you want to choose a noble opal online , you will need several photos of each stone from different angles to understand all the play of light of the stone.
It is very common for photos to overshadow the actual colors of the stone. In the following photo, we can see a noble cantera opal mounted on a ring, the play of light changes according to the orientation of the light and the angle of the shot.