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Questions to Ask When You Buy Opal Jewelry

Questions to Ask When You Buy Opal Jewelry

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Questions to Ask When You Buy Opal Jewelry

If you want to display cosmic beauty, buy opal jewelry. The beauty is in its colorful diversity that paints a fiery window into natural wonder. An opal gemstone is also like a time capsule since it takes millions of years form. These amazing characteristics make opal a deeply special gift. Here are answers to essential questions about opal jewelry.

What is an opal?

Before you buy opal jewelry, it's helpful to learn about its composition, which takes over 6 million years to process. Each individual opal stone has its own unique shape and pattern.

The components, which originate from algae, consist of microscopic hydrated silica spheres and 3 to 20 percent water. As a non-crystalline solid, the opal's amorphous quality accounts for its glassy appearance. It's found in various underwater rocks such as sandstone and limonite.

Why are opals considered special?

The two main classes of opal are precious and common. Precious opals, unlike common counterparts, have effects of changing colors when viewed from different angles. This quality is known as iridescence, which relates to "play-of-color" optical effects based on colored light from certain minerals. Common opal typically has a hazy appearance. An opal can be transparent, translucent, or opaque.

How valuable are opals?

The value of an opal generally depends on how rare it is. Black and red are the rarest colors of the gem. More common opal colors include white, gray, blue and green. Precious opal is considered natural even though it includes polishing. Common opal is also natural but much more abundant in nature than precious opal.

Synthetic opal, like other lab-produced jewels, has lower value than the gems that come from nature. The difference between a synthetic and authentic opal can be identified by a gemologist who analyzes the color pattern with a microscope. While synthetic versions have regular color patterns, authentic opals do not. Another difference is authentic opals display fluorescence under UV light, unlike synthetic versions.

A solid opal commands more value than a doublet or triplet. Doublets and triplets are assembled stones that feature thin slices of natural opal. Another factor that determines value is body tone, in which the darker the tone, the greater the value. Black opals can be worth thousands of dollars per carat. Other factors include play-of-color dynamics, brilliance, and color pattern.

The most valuable opal on Earth known as "Virgin Rainbow" glows in the dark and was reportedly worth $1 million in 2016. It was found in Australia 13 years earlier.

When did opals become well known?

Throughout most of history opal was only worn by royalty, particularly in Europe. In the Middle Ages, opal was called "the magician's stone" because it was believed to have magical powers. It became more widely known in the nineteenth century. Today opal is the national gemstone of Australia.

What does an opal symbolize?

Faithfulness and confidence are two key qualities the opal symbolizes. Opal is a birthstone for October as well as 14th wedding anniversaries. According to legend, the name comes from the Sanskrit word "upala," which means jewel.

Where can I learn more about how to buy opal jewelry?

The best way to learn about opal or other jewelry is from a gemologist who is a member of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Contact us at Ralph Mueller & Associates for more information on how to buy and sell opal jewelry. We've been serving Arizona jewelry hunters for decades and can help you participate in the global jewelry marketplace.