The opal is a legendary gemstone, famous for its colors and unique, unmistakable individuality. These classic gemstones are typically one-of-a-kind. Each gemstone is exceptional.
Opals as birthstones
Writers have spent thousands of years trying to describe opals. Even in ancient times, the opal was considered remarkable. Some ancient cultures thought that opals fell out of the sky during thunderstorms and contained lightning. As a birthstone, the opal is believed to relate to the gift of prophecy, purity, and hope. It is also believed to protect from disease.
Opals are formed as a result of a unique form of mineralization which creates a complete spectrum of colors using a combination of silica and water. It takes about 5 million years for an opal to mineralize. Opal is typically found in sedimentary rocks.
There are many different types of opal from around the world due to different environments and different elements in mineralization. Opals typically come from Ethiopia, Australia, and Mexico, with some opals found in Europe.
Opals are sold in different forms. A simple "flat-looking" smaller opal is called a double. A solid opal is called a triple and looks very three-dimensional. Due to the extraordinary range of opals, and the many different types of coloring, opals can be both cheap and very expensive.
Opal jewelry designs
Opals are very much in demand in jewelry design. In some cases, they form the centerpiece of extremely expensive jewelry, surrounded by diamonds, for example. In other cases they are standalone gems, mounted on rings, brooches, or similar configurations.
Shopping for authentic opals online
Opals are also unique in that they are often found in both top of the market and mainstream market jewelry. There are also such things as artificial opals, used as colorization and not really in the same quality league as natural opals.
Shopping for opals online can be very time-consuming. Due to the huge range of unique gemstones, a further problem can be that what you see online isn't necessarily what you get.
Top quality opals are definitely expensive. The most expensive are solid triples, which may include dazzling fire opals, serene Ethiopian opals, and other varieties.
A few basic purchasing tips:
- Artificial opals look "flat" in shape. Natural opals are highly irregular, and easily differentiated.
- It is strongly advised to ask for certification of authentic opals for any significant purchase.
- Natural opals are dramatically beautiful. It's fair to say that the more stunning the opal, the more likely it is to be authentic.
- Sourcing particular opals may need to be done at the point of sale. Due to an exceptionally high turnover, even by jewelry industry standards, selection of individual stones may need to be arranged.
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