Welcome October! We aren’t going to dispute that the year is getting away from us. birth stone is Opal with Pink Tourmaline as an alternate. Did you know that Opal is widely considered to be lucky, and to symbolize fidelity and hope? There is superstition stemming from an eighteen hundreds novel, that wearing Opal, when it was not your birth stone was unlucky. Why wouldn’t it be considered lucky for everyone? When every opal is truly unique and gem quality opals can be some of the most beautiful pieces to behold. The color range in each stone can be mesmerizing and even the body of the stone often looks more like something from a dream. Who wouldn’t feel lucky to wear or even hold something as inspiring as an Opal? Like most gems, the quality and beauty of this unique gem stone varies widely. One constant with Opal is that it is soft, and therefore need to be treated with care. After all, wouldn’t you treat a good luck charm carefully?
“Opal occurs in different colors, ranging from semi-transparent to opaque. The most common is white opal. Crystal or water opal has a colorless body. The most valued variety, black opal, has a dark blue, gray, or black body color. Boulder opal combines precious opal with the ironstone in which it forms. Bright yellow, orange, or red fire opal are quite different from the other varieties of opal. Their day-glo tones, which are translucent to transparent, are beautiful with or without play of color [shown in the stone, as it is moved]. Opal, along with tourmaline, is the birthstone for October and the suggested gift for the fourteenth anniversary…Although opal is rarely enhanced by methods other than cutting and polishing, opals can be treated to bring out their play of color. One technique is to immerse white, gray, or black opal in a sugar solution and then in strong sulfuric acid, which carbonizes with the sugar and leaves microscopic carbon specks that blacken the body color, making its flashes of color more visible. Opals can also be permeated with colorless oil, wax, resin, plastic, and hardeners to improve their appearance and durability. Occasionally, some thinner or translucent opal may be painted with a black epoxy on the backside of the gemstone to darken the body color and improve the play of color. Fire opal is not commonly enhanced….Opal, with or without enhancement, should be treated with some care. Opal is softer than many other gemstones and should be stored carefully to avoid being scratched by other jewelry. It should also be protected from blows, as exposed corners can chip. Opal should not be exposed to heat or acid.” The American Gem Trade Association
Opal Contains up to 20% water, though it is usually less. If you live in a hot, desert climate like here in Southern Utah, extra care is needed. I have seen beautiful Opals being stored in liquid to avoid stone fracture. I also know a local Stone Cutter who will wait months before cutting and polishing a piece of opal; giving it time first to acclimatize. This is done to limit the possibility of stone fracturing during the cutting process thus producing a more stable finished piece.
What does this mean for you?
- Don’t leave your Opal in a hot car, storage unit, or expose them to chemicals. Avoid exposing beautiful and expensive Opals to undue stress such as high head.
- Keep your Opals separated from your other jewelry. Opal is relatively soft. Other stones like Diamonds, Sapphires, Rubies, Emeralds and even the metal our jewelry is set in, is hard enough to scratch and damage our opal jewelry.
- Buy Opal with a purpose. Take a minute and ask yourself what you want to accomplish with your piece. Unless you are willing to be extremely careful, if may not be wise to buy a large unprotected Opal Ring; but it would look stunning in a pendant.
- Know and trust your jeweler. They should earn that trust. As with all of your special jewelry, have your Opals checked by a competent professional regularly. Most reasonable jewelers don’t charge to clean your jewelry. This allows you to keep your Opals, Diamonds, or other fine jewelry clean and secure so you can wear them with confidence.