Welcome to Gemstones 101, a series at Takayas Custom Jewelry where we shed a little light on the amazing gemstones we love to feature in our jewelry projects. This week’s entry puts the spotlight on October’s magical birthstone, the lustrous opal!
Unlike many other gemstones used in jewelry making, opals do not possess a crystalline structure, and so are actually classified as mineraloids rather that minerals. Their amorphous form consists of silica, one of the most abundant materials on earth, hydrated with anywhere between 3 to 21% water by weight. Depending on the unique conditions in which each opal specimen is formed, stones can range from totally transparent to opaque, and glow with a wide variety of background colors.
Most opals fall under two general categories, known as precious opal and common opal. Precious opals, which have arrested our imaginations with their fire and tend to figure most prominently in our conceptions of this brilliant jewel, display a remarkable iridescent effect known as play-of-color – a shocking, kaleidoscopic flash of nearly every color of the rainbow as it diffracts the light that passes through its internal structure. Throughout history, this gorgeous iridescence has earned opal a reputation as one of the luckiest and most magical gemstones of all!
When incorporated into a statement-making jewelry piece, gentle care should be taken with these glittering stones. With their higher water content, opals fare best when kept in relatively stable temperatures and away from drying conditions. To keep your own stunning opal shining for a lifetime, mild soap and water are all that you’ll need, no ultrasonic cleaning required.
Show off all your own colors of the rainbow with a beautiful pair of opal earrings, or showcase a particularly special opal within a personal pendant you’ll wear close to your heart forever. If you were born in the month of October, you’re a person of infinite possibilities – and your jewelry should be able to keep up!