When you want to buy gemstone earrings, opal may not be the first thing you think of but it is such a unique and varied gem that it deserves consideration. Opals are practically synonymous with Australia and this is still where some of the best precious opal comes from to be made into opal earrings.
It is so difficult to describe opals because they can change from one minute to the next. They look completely different in daylight than they do under electric lighting. The only thing that is constant with opals is that they are always beautiful. Opals have been prized since ancient times for their unique fire and beauty. White opal is almost opaque and looks a little like fine porcelain that has been dusted with glistening flecks of fiery color. Good quality white opals, known as precious opals are the type you will usually find in fine jewelry. Black opal contains the same rainbow fire but the main body color varies from deep gray to jet black. The black color enhances the fiery colors within and the finest quality genuine black opal is rare and extremely costly.
There are other types of opal, such as water opal which is much like white but with an almost colorless, transparent appearance that gives the flecks of color the look as if they were suspended in water Fire opal is translucent with a flame orange or red color, which may or may not contain the characteristic flecks of color within. The term “fire” opal can be confusing as the fire of an opal refers to the brilliance of the colors within, so any type of opal: black, white, water or fire; can display fire.
In recent years high quality synthetic or created opal for use in jewelry has been developed. Modern technology can create the “fire” of opals so that these created opals can look as good as the very best natural opal. In fact it can require testing to be able to distinguish genuine opal from created opal. Opal is the birthstone for October and legend has it that it will be unlucky for anyone not born in that month to wear it.
Created opal has made beautiful opal jewelry much more readily available and there are now opal earrings to buy in every color, design and metal. Pretty pink or dramatic blue created opals in sterling silver are popular as earrings in either drop or stud styles and can be purchased for less than $20 online. Whilst at the other end of the scale, designer genuine opal earrings set in 18k gold can cost upwards of $500 and if diamonds are included in the design expect to pay $1,000 or more. Of course if you are looking for antique opal earrings you will need to double or triple those prices.
Many famous royals are known to have worn opals; Louis XVI of France, Queen Charlotte of England and later Queen Victoria among them. Napoleon gave to his Empress Josephine what was then the largest and most valuable opal in the world.
So you know now that when you are wearing opal earrings and other opal jewelry, you are following in very illustrious footsteps.