Opals is a word that is becoming known more and more throughout the world. Over a million people search for it on the internet which gives us some sort of idea of its importance. Of course not all opalls refer to that precious gem from Australia, because we have basketball teams, services, fuel, black opal wine, to name a few of the variations.
Still, the most significant search for this precious term conjures up images of fascinating precious gemstones displaying so many colors of the rainbow that they hold a fascination found rarely in any other gemstone, or for that matter in any other organic or mineral representation that originates with mother earth.
Statement from Ancient Historian Pliny Abstract Opal (left)
The Structure of Opals
Just thinking about it though, makes you wonder in awe at the amazing design behind creation. Some of course put it all down to blind chance but if you think about it, not only is there a lot of thought behind the structure of opal itself but it seems that certain themes seem to exist right throughout the gambit of creation. Once I saw a brilliant colored red, blue, green, yellow, orange opal on the leaf of a small bush. Well, that’s what I thought it was until it started walking!! Haaa… it was an opal on legs, in the form of an amazing little Beetle.
Then you can gape in awe at the amazing colors and patterns in some tropical fish, or ‘flying opals’ as we sometimes call the astounding green-orange-red parrots at the Lightning Ridge Opal fields, here in Australia.
Of course, we humans are set apart from other creatures on this planet, in that we have an eye for design and creative ability. We look for ways of enhancing the things we find in the ground. A quick visit to the Mt Isa mines will demonstrate what humans can do with this pink orange colored metal, from the time it appears in the ground to when it is extracted and electrolytically refined to a near 100% purity.
What you see is what you get with opals
Opal needs no such refinement, apart from a little sanding and polishing. What you see is what you get. You don’t have to facet it, enhance it, put it through a machine to refine it. The color is there, staring at you from the sandstone wall of an underground man cave. Glaring at you as if to say “here I am, come and get me out of this hole and put me where I belong. In a gold pendant, enhancing the neck of a beautiful woman!”
Well, I guess that’s really a bit of an overstatement. Oh if it were that easy to find opal! It has been said that 95% of the opal found is worthless or near worthless potch (unformed opal). Of the remaining 5%, only about 5% is precious opal. And unfortunately the situation is not improving. The Coober Pedy Opal fields and the Lightning Ridge Opal fields are all but mined out. For the time being anyway, until more finance becomes available and more fields are found. (IF they are found)
Opal Jewelry examples
So in just a few hundred words, you have learned a small fraction of what could be said about opal. But words cannot convey the true beauty of this amazing gem. However the digital camera has been a great help in recent years in allowing people all over the world to get a glimpse of this stone. Here are some examples of the different ways that opal is being presented. First, as unset opals. Then in the form of opal rings. As opal pendants, and as opal earrings. Of course there are many more interesting pieces of jewelry on this site, but these few examples will suffice to cap of this article, and it is hoped that your education about this wonderful example of creation has been enhanced. .. Peter Brusaschi (international opal expert)