Opal jewelry is some of the most exotic and eye catching jewelry you can wear. Opals flash with the colors of the rainbow trapped within a silica gemstone. The most valuable black opals appear as angry storm clouds passing behind a rain washed rainbow. No two opals are the same. The color play of each is totally unique. They are beautiful, porous, fragile, highly prized and steeped in myth and legend. They make stunning engagement rings. But is an opal engagement ring right for you?
After all, opals are unlucky unless they are your birthstone, right?
Not at all! Opals are the birthstone of October and the zodiac stone of Libra, and yet they are enjoyed, admired and worn by people with birthdays throughout the year without any apparent extra bad luck befalling them! So how did this myth arise?
Like all good stories, it started a long time ago, and in Europe.
Opals have been prized throughout time for their beauty and rarity and the late 19th century Europeans were no exception! The European opal market at that time was supplied by Hungary, although some also came from further afield in India and the Middle East. But all that changed in 1890 when a new supply of significantly better opals was discovered. These were Australian opals and the like of their fiery opalescence had never been seen before! To protect their market, the Hungarians claimed the new opals were fakes.
Sir Walter Scott, like all good writers, drew on the confused panic of the day. He wrote in a novel that opals brought bad luck to people not born in October. The cursed myth was born, and the European opal market spiraled into near destruction. Near disaster was only averted when Queen Victoria herself intervened by giving gifts of opal jewelry at a Royal wedding!
Today the cursed myth may have passed into legend, but the beauty of Australian opals remains for all to see. Black opals and the best white opals have significant fire and enough play of color to hold their own even when set alongside diamonds.
Opals are much softer than diamonds though, and so they should set so that the gemstone is protected from chips and scratches. Bezel settings are popular for this reason. They should be cleaned gently in plain water, and definitely not in the harsh chemical cleaners suited to diamonds!
Opals make sensational jewelry. And if you are looking for a staggeringly beautiful and totally unique engagement ring with a mythical antique feel, an opal ring could be perfect for you.