Sunday, May 16, 2010

RED HOT. . .and OPAL!

Oh yes, it is! When we think of opal, images of flickering play-of-color opaque stones come to mind. But take another look.

Opal comes in transparent to translucent varieties too. Cherry opal, Fire opal, Mexican opal and other varieties offer designers sizzling options for sumptuous creations made from exotic totally natural jewels. Today natural is a big deal, as gem suppliers have developed more sophisticated means of treating gemstones.

Cherry opal is primarily found in Mexico, near sites with previous volcanic activity. All opal, including the transparent varieties have unique internal formation. Their silica spheres are distinct traits of their crystal structure. It's this crystal formation that allows opaque opal to flaunt a mesmerizing play-of-color. In transparent to translucent opal, the unique formation often results in a dreamy 'dense' look--something akin to looking through jello. Other gems, including diamonds, have crystals composed of flat sided or cubic crystal structure.

Red color in opal is often the most prized hue for gem enthusiasts making it highly collectible. But that's not a modern sensibility. A century ago, a large showy red opal thrilled prospectors in New South Wales , Australia. Named the Flame Queen, this large 263.18 carat stone is still considered the most famous of all opals.

Designer Paula Crevoshay understands the powerful effect that color has for jewelry collectors. She cleverly selects cherry opal and orange opal for their bold presence in her lavishly crafted gemstone "Orchid" brooch.

Original gemstone brooch set with cherry opal, orange opal, amethyst triangle, diamonds and opal. SRP $36,900. US; Courtesy Paula Crevoshay. Crevoshay Studio

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