The October birthstone, opal, exhibits a brilliant display of kaleidoscopic colors that mirrors the beautiful hues found throughout autumn. Read on to discover more about this stunning gemstone and what the LC has to offer when it comes to opal opulence.
With an internal mixture of fiery color, the opal is one of the most appealing and fascinating gems in the world. The best samples will exhibit a one-of-a-kind dazzling pattern of color and light, popular with jewelers all over the globe.
The development of this gemstone started millions of years ago when a mixture of silica and water flowed into cracks and holes in the ground. Over time, it hardened and solidified to turn into opal. Based on scientific estimates, it takes five million years to produce an opal just one centimeter thick.
Its unique display of flashing rainbow colors is known as play-of-color. The LC has an exceptional collection of opal including Australian boulder opal, Ethiopian Welo opal and Jalisco fire opal.
Australian boulder opal is most celebrated for its spectacle of rainbow-like hues, which vary with lighting and angle of observation. Not every opal has this rare color feature. It exhibits a dark body tone, which makes its vibrant colors stand out even more.
This solid opal can be found in cracks and cavities of ironstone. The stone occurs either as a strong color on top of the ironstone or as flecks of hues dispersed within the entire stone. With high density due to ironstone content, boulder opal is more resilient than other opals.
The Ethiopian Welo opal is stunning due to its lively play-of-color and fire. Often this vivid display is featured throughout an entire piece. This particular opal is a hydrophane, meaning that it can soak up water like a sponge. When hydrated, the stone becomes more translucent, which makes the play of colors more defined. It reverts back to opaque once it releases water.
Jalisco fire opal is unique because it captures the glow of the volcanic lava streams within which it formed. Valued for its vibrant and passionate orange sparkle, this fiery gem is a favorite for collectors.
As its name suggests, this gem sprang from fire, specifically from the ancient volcanoes of the Jalisco region of Mexico. Nuggets of fire opal can be seen fixed in lava streams.
Jalisco fire opal formed when water seeped into molten rock, filling its crevices. With high temperature and tension, silica created a compact gel that trapped the water inside the stone. The ancient Maya, Aztec and Inca tribes called this treasure, the “stone of the bird of paradise.”
For more information on all of our stunning gemstones, check out our Education Center!