Kimberly McDonald Stained Glass Crystal Opal Earrings
October’s primary birthstone, opal has been a favorite of modern independent designers and established brands for approximately 10 years. As Roman scholar Pliny the Elder described the rare beauty of opals, “There is in them a softer fire than the ruby, there is the brilliant purple of the amethyst, and the sea-green of the emerald – all shining together in incredible union. Some by their splendor rival the colors of the painters, others the flame of burning sulfur or of fire quickened by oil.” So, it is no wonder that their allure continues to attract today’s designer to work with them and jewelry enthusiasts to purchase them.
Sylva & Cie 18K Yellow Gold Opal & Diamond Heart Ring
In earlier times opals were prized throughout various cultures and thought to bring good fortune, good health and foresight. The Romans ranked opals as second only to emeralds and believed these gems symbolized hope and purity. The Ancient Greeks believed that opals brought prophecy. The word opal derived its name from “opalus”, which means “to see a change in color”.
Boucheron Opalescence betta fish brooch with a 71.69-carat opal cabochon and fins of powdered opal from the Boucheron Holograhique High Jewellery collection
But these magical stones didn’t always inspire desirability in the market. They were wrapped in superstitions on more than one occasion.
It was reported that King Alfonso XII of Spain received a cursed opal set into a ring from a vengeful Comtesse he had previously courted. After giving the opal ring to his wife, she died unexpectedly. The ring was passed down through generations and each new owner also died mysteriously. The depressed king decided to wear it himself, and he also died shortly afterward. But at the same time, cholera had reached epidemic proportions, killing more than 100,000 people from all class levels, which was most likely the real reason for these untimely deaths.
But, the most widely known story of opals bringing ill fortune to the wearer was derived from Sir Walter Scott’s Anne of Geierstein. In the novel, the character of princess Hermione wears a beautiful opal in her hair, which sparkles with iridescence when she is good humor, but flares red when she is not. For this reason, the gem is sprinkled with Holy Water, causing it to lose its luster. The next day there is nothing left of Hermione but a small heap of gray ashes found on her bed. This caused the opal market to crash.
Rumors were soon dispelled after a huge discovery of opal mines was made in Australia, a British Territory. In 1870, Queen Victoria wore opal jewelry to negate the superstition. She also presented her friends and five daughters with gifts of fine opals..
After Queen Victoria rejected the rumors, opals were designed into all categories of jewelry throughout the Victorian, Edwardian and most predominantly the Art Nouveau periods in jewelry, pieces of which command high prices on the antique circuit when signed or unsigned. They made a comeback in mid-20th century and went in and out of style until talented independent designers brought them back for a new generation of collectors.
Here are some contemporary favorites which include different types of opals: the vivid rainbow-effect of the Australian Boulder variety, the more common flecked blue/green versions , Mexican fire opals that go from deep yellow to orange to pale red and the mysterious black opals with pops of blue, pink and violet.
Boghossian Heart-Shaped Diamond and Opal Earrings consisting of a pair of color-contrasting earrings, each set with heart-shaped diamond: one is a fancy vivid orangey yellow married to a green opal, the other – a white diamond diamond, coupled with a blue Australian opal.
Pippa Small 18K gold and opal fringe necklace
Margery Hirschey Different cuts of opal mismatched one-of-a-kind chandelier earrings
Yoki Creations opal center ring with multi-color sapphires, and other gemstones surround
Nina Runsdorf 18K rose gold opal flip ring with diamond band and diamond surround
Monica Rich Kosann the 18K Rose Gold Star Fish Pendant opal pendant with diamond accents
Ruchi New York Ethiopian opal and multi-colored sapphire studs accented with brilliant cut diamonds showcase a shifting kaleidoscope of colors.
Ashley Zhang Opal Heart Starlight Pendant of a 14K disc with a hand cut and polished colorful bright opal heart, Surrounding the heart are handcarved rays of sun and eight carved diamond stars with diamond accents.
Retrouvaí One-of-a-kind Lollipop Ring 14K yellow gold with emerald cut aquamarine in Australian 0pal.
Mimi So Wonderland Teardrop pink opal earrings with flower tops and diamond and pink sapphire accents.
Nina Runsdorf 18K yellow gold, fire opal and diamond Bracelet
Suzanne Kalan 18K rose gold ring with opal center, surrounded by signature bagueets and white diamonds
Flora B Hattachary opal and purple jade earrings
Rush Jewelry Design Ethiopian opal split shank ring in 18K gold.
Mateo 14K gold opal and diamond studs
Jemma Wynne 18K yellow gold one-of-a-kind Opal Bar and Pave Diamond Ear Climbers
Judy Geib 18K gold double floral opal pendant with a stained glass feeling.
Amali Jewelry Ethiopian Opal earrings with intricate 18K gold surround