Oh those Opals

Not that long ago, customers asking for opal in retail stores really meant white opaque stones cut en cabochon. They hopefully glimmered with bits of color --the result of how light was broken up into its spectral hues inside the stone itself. That was then, this is now. Today, the word opal encompasses a fascinating array of opaque to transparent gems all within the opal family---and some of these are downright exotic.

The one thing all opal types have in common is the inclusion of water trapped within their crystal structure. This is how the fantastic play of color is achieved in high grade opal.Take a look at a just a sampling of sub-sets of opal gemstones that are fast becoming favored by couture designers lately. Originality is a hallmark of custom jewelery, but designers also seek out unique stones to place in their creations. These curious opals do just that.

Opals are a distinct gemstone whose origin may sometimes lie in fossilized objects. Wood or bone for instance can naturally convert into opalized stone over time, under the right conditions. So it makes sense that a clever jewelry designer would select these one-offs knowing that not only their style will be highly desired, but the stone as well. No two opals look exactly alike, especially the increasingly popular boulder opal, opal in matrix, and wood replaced opal.

Comments

I went on a dig at four of the Virgin Valley Opal Mines last summer and came home with several specimens where the opal had replaced rotted wood and one limb cast!

Robyn Hawk

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