Beautiful opals can be found in many locations around the world, but the most precious gem opals are found in Australia. Opals vary in appearance from mine to mine and country to country. For example Australia is where the most precious of all opals are found, the rare and extremely valuable Black Opal. Also found in Australia are Boulder Opals and Crystal Opals. The beauty of every Australian opal is they it has a unique look. Like snowflakes, no two are identical.
Peru also has opal mines. These mines yield an apple green colored opal that doesn’t offer much play of color.
Ethiopian opals show beautiful play of color against a clear background. These gems hydrophane, which means they temporarily loose their color when they get wet, but when they dry out the color returns to its original intensity. Ethipian opals are ideal for faceting. Ethiopia also produces some Black Opals.
Mexico is home to Fire Opals, those brilliant red and orange gems that are often found in an orange rock matrix. These particular stones are generally not considered strong enough to put in rings, however they are fine for earrings and pendants.
Opals can also be found in Brazil, Indonesia, Czech Republic and even the United States.
You will notice from looking at our store that almost all of Cole’s opals are set in bezels which he considers the only truly safe way to set a crystal or black opal. Cole only uses prong settings for his Boulder Opals which are still in their sturdy ironstone matrix. While some people consider opals bad luck because they have a reputation for breaking in jewelry, we don’t believe that old wive’s tale. When an opal has broken in a piece of jewelry chances are great that the stone was set in a prong setting. Prong settings are notorious for putting uneven pressure on the stones and causing them to crack and break.
On the Mohs Scale of hardness, opals range between 5 and 6, so they can scratch or break moderately easily and are not recommended for rings when you work with you hands in the dirt or do construction. Because we use very fine quality gems, no special care is needed for our opals.
The colors that make opals so interesting is called play of color. Opals can contain all the colors of the rainbow with red being the most valuable color. The term fire opal refers to opals from Mexico.
October’s birthstone is opal. Wearing an opal is said to enhance passion and strengthen relationships.
Cole hand selects each and every gem he sets in jewelry and cuts and polishes many of his best opals.