Opal Month is here

Choosing the right opal can often be a daunting task when you are presented with a wide choice.

There are so many factors to consider; rarity, colour, clarity, brightness, pattern, size.  

 

So let’s break these factors down, explore them a little further, and maybe help for you to choose the right opal for yourself (or the person you are buying for).

 

Rarity/Body tone.
Do you like the dark side? Maybe something a bit more ‘earthy’?  Perhaps something more feminine? Or you’re a traditionalist?

 

If you’re are rarity, and love the darker side of gems, the deep, mysterious, rare Black Opal could be the one to look for. Accounting for roughly 1% of Australia’s total opal stocks, the Lightning Ridge Black Opal definitely has its reputation for being sort after. For those with paler skin tones, the darker body tone of Black Opal can really ‘pop’.

 

Or maybe the more unpredictable Queensland Boulder Opal could suit? With it’s natural Ironstone host rock still attached, Boulder Opal is slightly hardier than the others, and it’s undulating surface, and generally freeform shapes make it truly unique. 

 

But, if it’s versatility that you’re after, the more translucent Crystal Opal could be the opal you want. Due to it’s level of translucency, it will take on the body tone of what ever is behind it, so if it’s to go on a darker skin tone, just watch the colours really stand out.  On paler skin, it can be more subtle and feminine.

 

However, there’s always the traditionalist in the mix, and they generally lean towards the White or Milky Opal. Typically from Coober Pedy (South Australia) this gem, though the most common of the precious opal, has a special place in the heart of gem-lovers.

 

Colour.
Reds/Oranges are the rarest of the colours, and mixed with the darker Opals (Black and Boulder), can look incredible. But also know that with rarity comes a higher cost.

 

Greens can look vibrant, but also soothing. The more darker, almost electric greens (which you can often see best in Boulder Opal) can be completely stunning.  The more soothing turquoise/aqua greens will look phenomenal in silver/white gold settings.

 

Blues/Purples are on the lower end of the value scale, however, can often be more popular (with blues generally being the universal favourite colour for most).

 

A few handy hints when it comes to colours – think of what they’ll be set in to.  The warmer ones (reds, oranges) do tend to work better in Gold, whereas blue, purple, green will look fantastic in silver/white gold.  Also, strangely, hair colour can influence the colour choice. From observation, blondes/redheads will lean more to the blue/green hues, whereas those with darker hair will favour a bit more fiery tones in the colour palette.

 

Size.

If the opal is to be put into a ring, in particular, an everyday ring (such as an engagement ring) try not to go too large.  Anywhere between a 6 x 4mm to 10 x 8mm in size (for standard oval shapes) and you’ll be safe. Too small of an opal, and you may lose the effect of the pattern/colour. Too large, and it may be too awkward to use in an everyday situation.

 

Clarity/Brightness.

These two factors impact more on the value of the stone, rather than the appeal.  Obviously a brighter stone with very few natural inclusions will be higher value, than a more subdued stone with plenty of potch (natural common opal) or ironstone inclusions.

 

Pattern.

Again, more of an impact on value/rarity more than appeal. A rarer Harlequin pattern will surely impress, but expect to pay top dollar for such a stone. Something with a rolling flash pattern will look incredible in a ring, being on a body part with plenty of movement.  Smaller stones with a fine pattern work better than a broader pattern. Larger stones can look really interesting if they have more than one pattern at work.

 

With all this in mind, it does eventually come down to personal taste. 

 

Good luck with your opal choice, and if in doubt, send through an email to opals@opalsdownunder.com.au for us to assist you further.