Accompanied by diamonds
In this article you are going to find out just about all there is to know about opal rings. Their history, the way they are presented, their association with other gemstones such as diamond, the metals used in their construction and what makes them appealing to first of all women and then men.
The practice of wearing finger rings goes back a long time into history. If you visit the British Museum or the Penn museum in Pennsylvania you will find examples of rings stretching back to around 2000 BC. Of course these rings were not opal because at this point in history its doubtful that anyone knew anything about this amazing stone.
Popular gems of the day were Lapis Lazuli, agates, and onyx, mainly set in pure gold or silver. Many rings were made without gemstones at all, more or less like engagement rings today.
Rings were often worn with an official stamp or seal and usually owned by Kings and important officials in association with sealing wax poured on envelopes containing confidential and official documents. However early in history they were also used as they are today as a jewelry decoration or a symbol of status.
Just why it is that women (mainly) and men love rings and all forms of jewelry I guess is for the same reason that we like to dress up and women particularly are conscious of fashion and what suits their own particular taste. I suspect that there is a certain amount of vanity involved as well when friends and associates see someone wearing something that looks really nice.
Opal and Diamond Ring
The idea of setting and creating an opal and diamond ring, came very much later in history. Probably not until the 20th century. Of course diamonds were not cut into facets until the seventeenth century.
But even though opals were mined in Europe throughout the centuries, it wasn’t until they were found in Australia that they became available in commercial quantity and could be relied upon not to crack or be insecure as the opals in Hungary and the Czech republic could sometimes be. Hence, the opal diamond ring was born and the neutral color of diamonds provided a really outstanding setting for the center stone.
Size of diamonds in relation to opal, the center stone
Usually the diamonds associated with opal rings are quite small. Perhaps one pointer or two pointers often set on either side of the opal, either in sets of two or three. Sometimes mimicking a heart or other shape. Or as in the case of Prince Charles first wife, Lady Di, who wore a large sapphire as the center stone, the traditional setting of small diamonds covering the full circumference of the center stone. We often call this style the ‘Lady Di’ design.
Opal engagement Ring and the opal wedding ring
It was only a matter of time before the opal and diamond ring came into being and as an offshoot, the opal engagement ring and the opal wedding ring became popular among more adventurous newlyweds. Opal of course is not as hard as diamonds but if set in a sensible way can be used successfully. Many if not all diamond rings are set with claws because as most people know there is no natural color in a diamond unless it has been interfered with by the diamond cutter who cuts facets into it. You can find opal rings for sale here
It took a long time for lapiderists to work out the right angles of the facets and how many to make to capture the most light and color reflection from the spectrum. In order for this light diffraction to take place it is necessary to expose the stone to as much light as possible and claws are the preferred method of doing this rather than bezels which cover the edges of the stone.
The secret of opal change of color
In the case of opal, it is totally different because the color play comes from WITHIN the stone itself, and does not depend on facets to create opalescence. After years of speculation as to how this amazing stone could change color from reds to greens, to blues, crimsons, and yellows by itself without human interference eventually the electron microscope revealed the secret.
The surface of opal is made of minuscule spheres that create the change of color phenomenon. As far as known, all opal, even common opal that has no color (called “potch” in the opal industry) is structured in this way. But for some reason that this author does not understand, when the spheres form an organized structure in racks, the common opal becomes precious opal. The largest spheres capture the red color from the spectrum. The smallest spheres blue, and all the other colors are in between.
Opals can be set in claws as well as bezels but the latter are safer for more rugged wear
The definition of a ‘bezel’ is as follows: A rim of mental either gold, silver or any metal that surround a gemstone or a watch to hold it in place. A bezel is more secure than claws unless the claws totally surround the stone which does make them more secure. A bezel gives a protective shield around cabochon (round top or convex) cut gemstones such as jade, amethyst, opal, or indeed any gemstone, that has a more opaque appearance. (Opaque means that the color is coming from the gem surface itself and does not require color to travel through the stone to create an interaction of light)
Hence if you are thinking of an opal as an engagement ring, bezels are preferred. The only caution is to be sensible about their care. It’s best not to wear expensive rings in the wash-up or in the garden for obvious reasons in case the stone comes in contact with something harder than itself. This caution applies just as much to diamonds and sapphires as it does to opals. Anyway one who wears a claw set diamond in the garden or anywhere where the claws could be dislodged is asking for trouble. other examples of opal rings for sale here
Opal rings for women and men
Although opal rings for women have always been more popular, the more masculine appearance of boulder opal with lots of ironstone in the foreground became much in demand by guys both as rings and belt buckles as well as bola ties.
Boulder opals, to many folks are just so amazing and unique. In a world where more and more synthetics are taking over our lives, boulder opals stand out in the world of gems as being something that cannot be mimicked if the foreground of the stone is a combination of chocolate ironstone direct from mother earth, intermingled with fascinating colors and patterns.
Boulder opals with less color and more ironstone patterns particularly appeal to the guys because they have a more rugged appearance and are more noteworthy in their unique patterns than the brilliance of them gem itself.
Natural Opal Rings
from the Opalmine store
In more recent years synthetic and other fake opals have been produced which can at times be confused with the real thing and if a person has limited finance they can look really nice but of course for the little extra you pay its nice to be able to say that your jewelry piece is a true opal and the demand for natural opal rings far out ways the popularity of the cheap synthetics.
Fake or synthetic Opal
Synthetic opal from what we can tell, was invented in a laboratory by Gilson of France back in the 1970’s. This type of fake opal mimics the real thing because it is actually grown from similar materials to the natural stone and although at times the pattern gives it away as not being real, it certainly is a great imitation.
Other fake opals from what we can tell have percentages of plastic and other materials but also can look very convincing. The worry for opal lovers, particularly if they are buying off the internet, is how to tell the difference and to be frank, even opal experts would find it difficult to tell without looking at the stone in real life.
How to tell if opal is real or a fake
The best guide without looking under magnification is the price. If you are being offered a top quality black or crystal opal for $50 including the setting, the alarm bells should go off immediately and you would be wise to bring the matter up with the supplier and ask the straight out if its real or synthetic.
Natural full color black and boulder opal can be very expensive, and not everyone can afford hundreds, thousands, or indeed tens of thousands of dollars on a gemstone.
Hence, the practice of taking a natural piece of opal that may be too thin to use as a solid opal, and setting it onto a black potch or boulder ironstone backing, thus giving the appearance of a top quality black opal at a very affordable price.
You see, with opal, you can get a stone like this and if someone asks you is it a REAL opal, you can honestly say YES. Whereas with synthetic diamond, sapphire, or emerald, the stone is either real or fake.
Blue Opal rings
While red is the most expensive color in opal, it must be kept in mind that this stone covers the whole gamut of the color spectrum because, depending on the size of the microscopic spheres that were discovered with the help of the electron microscope, these amazing gems can draw out every imaginable color from the white light that hits its surface.
In recent years, blue opal has become increasingly difficult to find and because this color is very popular, blue opal rings are not always easy to obtain. More often of course blue and green complement each other. If the description is blue-green, it means that the stone is more blue than green and if its green-blue, the opposite is the case.
White opal ring
Traditionally, all or at least most opals were white or pale in appearance. It was not until black opals and boulder opals were discovered in Lightning Ridge and Western Queensland, Australia that the world was introduced to a new more striking gem.
These types of stones were discovered with black potch and dark brown ironstone on the back and when they found their way into the circles of influential people in the United Kingdom such as Queen Victoria their value climbed to the point that during the 190’s when the Japanese started to buy them, opal miners were vying with one another for ownership of the gems.
White opal rings are still in demand today because a lot of people prefer the more delicate subtle colors of this gem than the more expensive dark contrasting appearance of the black and boulder opal.