Opal is unique amongst the gemstones, many of which are crystalline. Opals are made up of many tiny spheres of silica attached to water and formed in a lattice arrangement with space in between them. It is this arrangement that causes light to bend or refract and split into its component parts much like you see in a rainbow. The ‘fire’ or flash of colours in an opal is lots of tiny little rainbows all mixed up together. The size of the spheres which vary, determine the colour that you see; from red to blue, green, yellow / orange etc. The display of colour in Opals has always fascinated me and the unusual effects such as this play of colour are one of my favourite things about gemmology and gemstones.
The stronger the play of colour the more desirable the stone. The colours displayed affect the value and desirability; the more red reflected the more desirable, while green and blue are more common so less so.
The colour of the ‘body’ of the opal is important too with ‘black’ opals (having a dark green, grey or black tone) being more desirable than ‘white’ opal which has a lighter body colour. There is also ‘water’ opal which has a clear body and ‘fire’ opal which has a deep orange body colour with or without a play of colour. Fire opal comes from Mexico whereas Australia is probably the most famous source of other types of opal occurring in crack and fissures in the ground.
Opal was a symbol of fidelity and assurance among the ancients but unfortunately suffered a bad reputation in the 18th and 19th centuries as bringing misfortune and back luck, thankfully this superstition has faded as this stone really is a delight and wonder of nature.
It is a relatively soft stone so must be treated with care, it is also porous so must never be submerged in water for long so do not wear it in the bath or washing up. There are many imitations on the market also so make sure to buy your opal from a reputable source.
Opal is often found paired with garnet in Victorian jewellery much like lot 8 in our forthcoming sale. It is also commonly found in a cluster with diamonds which complement the stone beautifully; lot 158 is a fine example of this, a less expansive example can be found in lot 402 and a very pretty and unusual vintage ring in lot 42. Lot 185 is a very sweet bar brooch with a lively opal in it and lot 399, the pearls sport a fine opal and diamond clasp.
Another mineral showing a ‘play’ of colour that is my all-time favourite rock is ‘Labradorite’, named after the region of Canada, it is mined, Labrador. It too has a shimmery reflection of colour that changes as you move it in the light. It displays predominately green, blue and grey colours and has an ethereal quality, in this case the splitting of light comes from layers of mineral material rather than spheres. It is most often used in beads or ornamental material, we have a number of lots of gemstone beads in this sale which include labradorite; 277, 278 & 286
Akamai Bot Manager
This cookie is set by Facebook to deliver advertisement when they are on Facebook or a digital platform powered by Facebook advertising after visiting this website.
This cookie is installed by Google Analytics. The cookie is used to calculate visitor, session, camapign data and keep track of site usage for the site's analytics report. The cookies store information anonymously and assigns a randoly generated number to identify unique visitors.
Google uses this cookie to distinguish users.
This cookie is installed by Google Analytics. The cookie is used to store information of how visitors use a website and helps in creating an analytics report of how the wbsite is doing. The data collected including the number visitors, the source where they have come from, and the pages viisted in an anonymous form.
Akamai Bot Manager
This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".
This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Non Necessary".
This cookie is believed to be used for load balancing to manage server traffic demand.
The cookie is set by Facebook to show relevant advertisments to the users and measure and improve the advertisements. The cookie also tracks the behavior of the user across the web on sites that have Facebook pixel or Facebook social plugin.
MailChimp - to store if a message has been dismissed.
This cookie is native to PHP applications. The cookie is used to store and identify a users' unique session ID for the purpose of managing user session on the website. The cookie is a session cookies and is deleted when all the browser windows are closed.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.