Gemstone Edit: Opals: Precious Stones Ablaze with Color

Look deeply into the face of an opal and see a kaleidoscope of fiery colors, a veritable galaxy contained within a gemstone that symbolizes hope, love, purity and truth.

The gem name Opal is a derivative of the Sanskrit Upala, defined as ‘precious stone’. Latin Opalus and Greek Opallios means ‘to see color change’.

The beauty of the opal is formed by rain. It is said the water from rain seeps into the rock the rock via crevasses and once it evaporates, the silica that is left behind dries and hardens forming a precious opal, as an opal, is a hydrated amorphous form of silica, classified as a mineraloid; the light is diffracted due t the internal structure, giving it its distinctive appearance. 90% of the worlds opals, come from Australia.

There is much more attached to the opal, over the centuries, different cultures attaching and crediting supernatural origins and powers. The Greeks were believers that the stone offered protection from diseases and it bestowed upon its owner, the gift of prophesy.

Ancient Romans held the opal in high regard. Pliny the Elder, commander of the early Roman Empire said of this gemstone “Having a refulgent fire of the carbuncle (ruby or garnet), the glorious purple of amethyst, the sea green of emerald, and all those colours glittering together mixed in an incredible way.”

The beauty of the opal is undeniable and makes for eye catching jewelry.

There are different types of opals, which includes but is not limited to:


Natural opals has base tones of light, dark and black opal that range from colourless, white, through the various shades of grey, to black. Opals of any body colour will be opaque, translucent or transparent and when transparent or very translucent, with colour clarity that is sharp, it is often referred to as crystal opal.


Black/dark opals are considered the most valued and comes mainly from a location in NSW called Lightning Ridge. These high quality stones are very rare and easily distinguished by the blackness of the background or body colour. With this stone there is a play of colour within or on, a dark body tone. The black opal’s play of colour is within or on a black body tone, when viewed from the face up. It can be crystal or opaque. Black/dark opal exhibiting bright flashes of red is extremely rare.


Boulder opal can be black or light depending on the appearance of the stone when viewed from the surface. Boulder opal occurs as in-fillings of cracks or voids usually in ironstone boulders. This variety of precious opal has the host rock forming naturally as part of the gem presented often as just a thin vein of precious opal is present. It is found chiefly in specific locations over a wide area of Western Queensland. These opals are in high demand and can be extremely valuable.


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The Boulder matrix opal is found in Queensland and is distinguished by the ironstone host rock and is intimately diffused as in-fillings of pores or holes between grains of the host rock in which it was formed.


These opals are natural possessing a base tone that ranges from colourless to medium grey are referred to as light opal. While some refer to these as “white” though this should only be used where the body colour can be described as very milky. The Light opal makes up the bulk of precious opal.

White Opals Edit

White Opal – Extremely Piaget pendant

Woman Pendant G33L1G00

Extremely Piaget “Sunlight” pendant in 18K rose gold set with a white opal (approx. 14.87 cts) and 49 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 1.65 ct).

White Opal: Yael

Style 11467

18kt two toned gold ring with white opal (7.15ct) and diamonds.

Dvani Gold Opal Diamond and Ruby Earrings

14k White Gold with 13.28CT Opals with Ruby and Diamond Halo earrings by DVANI.


Dior Opal Diamond Gems Gold Ring

Yellow gold Dior cocktail ring centered with a white opal, the ring is enhanced with floral, fish, dragonfly and a frog motifs, some of the flowers are centered with quartz, tourmaline, garnets, sapphires or diamonds.


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