The Glorious Opal
The Glorious Opal
As the design area within my workshop evolves, I’m already salivating at the prospect poring over my collection of gemstones there.
For me, the opal is a sheer celebration of colour.
Opal is amorphous, that is, without a crystal structure. Instead, it is made up of microscopically tiny spheres of silica – you need to magnify them 20,000 times to see them! Beams of light bend and split as they pass through the spheres to produce glorious patterns of coloured light.
It starts with the cracks and cavities left after bones and shells within ancient rocks have crumbled away with time. Through weathering and erosion, this silica gel makes its way into these cavities to form what we know as Opal, with its veritable fiery rainbow of colour within.
Opal is the birthstone for those born in October as well as being the traditional stone of choice for those celebrating their 14th wedding anniversary.
Here, Opal fills the hollows of pebble rock. There is often a fabulous play of colour against a dark base surface.
Bands or leaves of precious Opal are embedded in the matrix rock, the rock in which the opal is found. Often wonderfully decorative and colourful and allowing you to look deep into the opal.
It is incorrect to assume that fiery red flashes of colour that occur in many opals means that it’s a fire opal. In fact, the orangey-red fire opal is usually a more translucent gem.
Doublets and Triplets
The opal doublet is where a slice of opal has been cemented to another material, sometimes glass, which can give it the appearance of a black opal. The opal layer can be a single slice of opal, or sometimes several opal fragments glued together.
An opal triplet is where the doublet has a top layer of colourless quartz which also serves to protect the opal layer.
Whilst these doublets and triplets do not occur naturally, they still have a natural opal element and can be extraordinarily beautiful.
Since the delicate opal is between 3% and 30% water, it makes a perfect pendant where it can safely enjoy the body’s natural humidity. Storing your opal with a little moisture is also a good idea.
Interestingly, the opal is traditionally thought to be a stone of happy dreams and changes.
…and a compass set into the back!
…a unique design all around
…and small enough to wear everyday
View this Compass