October has two birthstones; Tourmaline and Opal. Tourmaline is available in a rainbow of beautiful colors and opal gemstones are unique because each individual opal is adorned with a one-of-a-kind color combination. Opals are considered to be the traditional birthstone for the month of October and are also the customary gift given to couple’s celebrating their 14th wedding anniversary. Many ancient cultures believed that the opal was an extremely lucky and powerful stone and associated it with both Aphrodite and Venus, the goddesses of love. The Ancient Greeks believed that the stone could give the wearer the gift of vision to foresee the future. Historically the opal has been referred to as the eye stone. The Australian aboriginals believed that the earth’s creator stepped on the earth and left behind opals in his wake. The Romans believed that the opal was a symbol of purity and that it provided protection from disease while the ancient Arabs believed that opals were a gift from heaven. These combined beliefs add to the mystery and allure of the opal from ancient times to present day.
Different Types of Opals
Opals may be found in many different locations around the world but Australian opals account for over 95% of the most unique and beautiful stones used in items of jewelry. Opals are classified into three main types depending on their base color which generally consists of black, white and transparent.
Black Opal (New South Wales, Australia): The term black opal does not mean that the stone is completely black but rather that the base color is black and serves to enhance the brightness and diversity of color throughout the stone. Black opals are the rarest and most coveted of all opals.
White Opal (New South Wales, Australia): The white opal is also referred to as the milk opal because of its white base and muted appearance. A good quality white opal can still show a vibrant array of color but is considered less valuable than the black opal.
Crystal Opal (Australia): Crystal opal can be either black or white with a transparent or semi-transparent body.
Boulder Opal: (Queensland, Australia): This type of opal is typically cut with the ironstone (sedimentary rock) left on the back because the opal itself is very thin. Boulder opals are generally dark with stunning color variations and can be found in various sizes ranging from the size of a pea to the size of a small car.
Fire Opal (Mexico, USA): This opal is renowned for its distinct orange coloring but should not be confused with the Australian fire opal which is a black opal that contains large amounts of red. Because the color red is so rare, an Australian fire opal is considered to be the most valuable.
Australian Black Fire Opal: One of the most famous examples of a fire opal is the black opal that the Emperor Napoleon gave to his beloved Josephine dubbed “The burning of Troy” This fine example has since been lost in the corridors of time yet to this day the opal sparks hints of mystery and intrigue in the minds of jewelry connoisseurs and serious collectors.
Synthetic Opals: These are opals that are produced in a lab. The most well-known synthetic opal is called the Gilson opal. It can be very difficult to tell the difference between a real opal and a synthetic opal. Examine the pattern closely, if it displays colors in large patches, colors that appear too perfect or if it resembles a snakelike pattern, chances are it is a synthetic opal. Consult with the knowledgeable appraisal experts at Brigitte Kruse Appraisal Services for positive identification and authenticity.
Imitation Opals: are made from materials such as colored pieces of foil that are set in epoxy resin. Although pretty in appearance, imitation opals are considered costume jewelry that have very little value other than sentimental attachment.
Tips for Choosing Good Quality Opals
• When choosing an opal, the most important factors to consider are type, size, color and brilliance.
• Look for black opals with distinctive and brilliant flashes of color
• Opals containing red are the most valuable as they will show multitudes of color when rotated
• Large flashes of color and broad patterns are rare making them more valuable than those with smaller points of color
• In addition to color, the amount of light an opal reflects also plays an important role in determining its final value.
Opal, Tourmaline & Other Gemstone & Jewelry Appraisals in Beverly Hills, Agoura Hills, Palm Springs, Indio & Southern California
To know whether you have a genuine, natural opal, or a synthetic or imitation, call Brigitte Kruse Appraisal Services. We can determine the authenticity and value. Brigitte Kruse is proud to have over 25 years of gemology field training. She is also be one of the nations leading jewelry auctioneers. Call us today to schedule your jewelry appraisal appointment!