Opals, Witches, Clocks, Oh My!
Au revoir to October, daylight savings and one of my favorite birthstones the opal. One of the two October birthstones, opals are a pure celebration of color! You may associate rainbow like hues with opals which is known in the gemology world as "play-of-color" or color play and is a special characteristic of this beautiful gem. As you change the angle of observation the hues the observer sees change color. From a scientific view, the play-of-color comes from the diffraction of light off tiny, tightly packed silica spheres inside the stone. This explains why the colors change when the opal is viewed from a different direction. From a romantic perspective, opals are the sirens of the gem world, they seduce most who rest their gaze on them.
I'm wearing a gorgeous minimalist 14K white gold vintage necklace with a bezel set precious white opal pendant available from Vintage Magnality, follow on instagram here along with a pair of diamond hoop earrings from my personal jewelry collection. Mixing and matching vintage and modern jewelry with fashion forward pieces is a surefire way of creating a one-of-a-kind look. The 5 à 7 Cinq à Sept blazer above was purchased at Nordstrom and is paired with my work-out top by Nagnata purchased at Net-a-Porter. The nude lip look is achieved with the Bare Velvet Lip Kit by Kylie Cosmetics.
There are three subgroups of opals, 1. precious opals, 2. yellow-red fire opals, and 3. the common opals. Each group of opals have their own physical properties. Fire opal is often a fire red color and shows no play-of-color. They may sometimes be confused with garnet (see faceted stones in above ring) or rhodochrosite. The vintage ring above features faceted garnet gemstones, and a mix of opal (precious white) and turquoise cabochons, click here for details. Common opal is usually opaque, shows no play-of-color and is rarely translucent.
Precious opals include white opal (like this beautiful vintage Victorian opal ring pictured above by Vintage Magnality), black opal, boulder opal, and harlequin opal. A majority of the precious opals sourced through the end of the 19th century came from current day Slovakia. From then till 2008 the largest sourcing country was Australia. Around this time large deposits were discovered in Ethiopia. They are also found in Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and right here in the good olde USofA.
Opals are "living" stones, delicate, porous and always contain water (between 3 to 30 percent). They must be protected from heat and detergents which can dry them out. Over time if the stone loses water they can crack and the play-of-color may diminish. Think along the lines of skincare, moisture keeps it supple and fresh. For longer term storage, the aging process can be avoided when stored in moist absorbent cotton wool. Whatever you do, don't store in unbreathable plastic. For ever day access store in a breathable fabric pouch or isolated in a velvet box (like the one pictured above) or protected area of your jewelry box.
Opals are sensitive to acids, alkalies, meaning perfumes, soaps and detergents. Therefore, always put your jewelry on last as a general rule, so after you've applied lotions, makeup and perfume and don't do any cleaning while wearing these beauties. Avoid harsh impacts to the stone, use mild soap to clean, NEVER use an ultrasonic cleaner and prolonged exposure to water or steam should be avoided.
Even though these magical gems require special care, once you lay your eyes on an opal it's hard to not fall in love. Truly one of nature's miracles, most of them are roughly 60 million years old. Get lost in the dancing rainbows, take a look at Vintage Magnality's Rain Dancer ring, a white opal set in platinum and surrounded by diamonds. Happy Birthday to all of the October babies and Happy Halloween to all of my witches and boss bitches! Don't forget to set your clock back tonight before you go to bed as daylight savings ends at 2am.