O is for October and Opal!

Florida Jewelry

Florida Jewelry

With the month of October now underway today I am bringing you a brief lesson in Gemology.  Since the birthstones (that’s right there are two!) for October are Opal and Tourmaline.  While this article is focused mainly on Opal I will follow up with a second article about Tourmaline shortly.  Opals were revered by the ancient Romans as it was inspiring to them for its beauty was almost impossible to describe in words.  Romans simply called it “Opalus” a word that means “precious stone”.  One philosopher and scholar Pliny described opals as “they equal the deepest and richest colors of painters. Others simulate the flaming fire of burning sulphur…and even the bright blaze of burning oil”.  He was referring to Opals play of color ranging in colors as blue/green such as peacock feathers and vibrant reds and oranges like hot magma shooting out into the sky from a volcano.

One of the greatest things about opal is that the range in varieties and colors make opal such a versatile stone.   It ranges in color and qualities from the modestly priced white opals with a milky base color and soft play of color to intensely vivid black opals with color so intense it can look like it is on fire.    The patterns of the opal’s play of color can be categorized in one of three types; Pinfire, Flash and Harlequin.  Pinfire displays very small patches or “dots” of play of color, Flash displays large areas of play-of-color and Harlequin shows large, distinct angular patches of play-of-color with edges touching each other.

Opals are found all over the world.  White opals are the most common and are found in Ethiopia, Australia, and North and South America.  Fire opals known for having their intense orange and red colors are most widely found in Mexico.  Black opals are found almost exclusively in Australia.   One of the main mining areas in Australia is Coober Pedy.  The name comes from the aboriginal word “kupapiti” which literally means “white man in a hole”.  Because of the hot nature of the Australian outback miners there often live in underground housing to escape the heat.

With the current resurgence of victorian and vintage style jewelery designs, one cannot ignore the importance of opals in todays market.  Usually opal jewelry is offered at a commercial level with small white opals and low play of color but finer quality opals are beyond beautiful.  They have a rich glow to them that cannot be compared to by any other  gem.  At Raymond Lee Jewelers we have a wide selection of opal jewelry of fine quality.  Come in today to see our selection!.

by Richard your Boca Raton Jewelry Guru

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