In the last few years, opal jewellery has seen a huge increase in popularity. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or someone else, these unique stones make a beautiful centrepiece to rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Before you begin shopping however, there are a number of things you need to be aware of. This way, you can be sure you’re choosing a gem that you’ll love for years to come.
While all gem stones are different and unique, there are certain characteristics that set opals apart from the rest.
- Base colours: This refers to the overall colour of the stone. While opals reflect a beautiful range of colours, there will always be one that stands out. The deeper the body colour, the more vivid it displays other colours. For that reason, black is costlier that white. Transparency, translucency and opaqueness also effect its value.
- Varieties: Obviously you want to get as much natural stone as possible if you’re looking for quality opal jewellery, however, there are other more affordable options available as well. A doublet is made from a slice of opal glued onto a black backing (such as industrial glass, plastic or a colourless stone). A triplet is cheaper again, though it contains the least amount of natural stone. It’s a thin slice of opal sandwiched between a piece of black backing and a clear quartz, giving the impression that the stone is bigger than it actually is.
- Natural Opals: With the rise of opal jewellery comes an increase in the number of fake opals on the market. With no laws prohibiting their sale, the piece you’re considering could very well be an imitation. And while they can still create attractive pieces, they aren’t genuine – in fact, man-made stones are crippling the Australian industry. If you’re looking for the real thing, only purchase natural opals.
Who are you shopping for?
Before you make any purchases, you need to think about who you’re shopping for. Are you buying jewellery for yourself, your partner, family, or friends? The answer will determine which piece you decide on, the style and the budget. If you aren’t shopping for yourself, make sure you have a good idea of their tastes – especially their preferred metal – to ensure they love their opal jewellery as much as you do.
What metal should you choose?
As we briefly touched on, the metal you choose is critical. Most people either prefer gold or silver, very few people comfortably wear both. All jewellery will be made with some sort of metal, and if you’re buying a quality piece, it will likely be set in silver or gold. Gold is a popular choice and will stand the test of time. If you prefer the finish of silver, but still want the durability that white gold offers, consider choosing white gold for your opal jewellery.
What shape stone?
Opals are a soft stone and are generally cut into an oval cabochon (dome topped) rather than facetted. Though this is the most popular shape, the right jeweller will be able to cut the stone into just about any shape you can think of. You can even choose a raw stone, if you want something unique and natural.
Opal jewellery is popular for a reason. This beautiful stone reflects an almost unimaginable number of colours and looks lovely in any style. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, a professional will guide you through the process from start to finish, to ensure you’re completely satisfied with your purchase. That way, you or your loved one will have a stone they can love for decades to come.