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Opals are created in the dry season after seasonal rains in places like Australia. Trapped rainwater evaporates in sedimentary rock layers, leaving behind silica deposits. No wonder the aborigines saw them as gifts from the creator after a visit from a rainbow.
While their appearance is similar to a rainbow, opals are made of hydrated amorphous silica and usually 6% to 10% water. These tiny pieces of silica are what make the appearance of moving color in an opal.
Opals are one of the most rare stones on Earth. Jewelers swoop them up the moment they are mined from the ground. Interestingly, opals are more rare than diamonds. Yet opals are not stock piled to control prices (like diamonds), making them budget friendly. You can expect to pay between $400 and $2000 for an opal ring.
Opals have the magic of “moving” color when you look at them, also known as the play of color. This play of color comes from the different patterns and placements of silica.
The primary body tone of an opal usually falls somewhere between a white (or colorless) tone and a dark, black color.
We’ve already mentioned how delicate an opal is. To give a point of reference, opals land at a 5.5 to 6 on the Mohs hardness scale. Diamonds are 10 on the same scale. An opal’s hardness is similar to that of glass.
Opals are a smooth stone, found in a cabochon design. A cabochon design is when gemstones are rounded into a domed shape. In contrast, many other gemstones are cut into faceted shapes.
Opals have unbelievable implications to them. There are legends from Arabia, ancient Rome, and the Middle Ages that all attest to the good luck, fortune and power an opal gives to the person wearing it. It’s even been thought an opal could make the wearer turn invisible.
After the Middle Ages, opals regained popularity because of Queen Victoria’s enchantment with them. Fun fact: other opal-obsessed rulers include Cleopatra and Empress Josephine.
Good luck is said to come to all wearers of the stone, but even more so to people born in October. Opal is the birthstone of October birthdays.
Opals are in demand for engagement rings. Perhaps it’s their dreamy array of colors? Perhaps it’s their nickname as the “Queen of Gems”? Whatever the reason, no one can deny that opals are beautiful gemstones.
Opals have an otherworldly glow to them. They can be a great choice as an engagement ring, such as this opal engagement ring from Blue Nile, for the non-traditional-diamond bride. With an opal engagement ring like this one from Blue Nile, the wearer will look just stunning. Since each opal is unique, the stone is a great choice for a one-of-a-kind partnership.
While opals are gorgeous and rare, we have a caveat. Opals are a softer stone and require respect when handling. As engagement ring experts, we always make sure our ring-seekers are aware of this detail at the beginning. An opal isn’t going to break when you sneeze, but it does need more tenderness than other engagement rings.
The amount of side stones, size of the opal, and intricacies in the setting will determine the price of an opal engagement ring.
You can find a simple, dainty ring for around $400 USD, such as this opal row ring from James Allen. For a flashier opal ring, expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,000 USD, as shown in this cute rose gold halo ring from Blue Nile.
White opal stones will cost less than an opal with a black body tone.
Jewelers love to place the luster of opal next to the sparkle of diamonds. Halo settings and adding side-stones are two great ways to fancify an opal ring. This simple, yet elegant side-stone setting from James Allen is a great example.
A solitaire setting helps lead all focus on the exquisite opal stone.
Another great setting for opals is a bezel setting. This thin line of metal completely surrounds the stone and helps protect it.
Is an opal engagement ring right for you? We’ve made a quick reference to help you decide.
When you are looking at the opal stone, there are a few factors to keep in mind.
Pay attention to the play of color. This is the phrase jewelers give to the kaleidoscope of moving colors in an opal. You want your opal to have that magic of movement.
The brilliance of an opal is another attribute to consider. Brilliance refers to how brightly the colors in the stone shine. You want bright colors rather than dull.
Make sure the stone doesn’t have any faults in it. Common faults found in opals are tiny cracks or sand inclusions.
Above all, make sure the soon-to-be-wearer loves the ring. If you’re not sure, we have some great tips to figure out what ring your partner wants.
If you are unsure about your ring, reach out to us. We are experts that want you to get exactly what you want.
You can find a lot of places that sell opal engagement rings. We’ve worked with a lot of jewelers in the last few decades. Because of their high-quality and affordable prices, our favorite companies are:
It was hard to choose our favorites but here are a few of them!
This gorgeous opal engagement ring from Blue Nile is well crafted with a lovely opal encircled by a double halo of blue topaz and white sapphires. Wowza!
While tagged as a birthstone ring, this elegant beauty from James Allen makes a great opal engagement ring. The three prongs and yellow gold perfectly compliment the opal.
The forty-four pavé-set diamonds surrounding the opal make a stunning combination. 18K white gold finishes the look. This beautiful opal engagement ring from Blue Nile is a perfect way to propose.
This adorable ring from James Allen has vintage elegance. The sparkling diamonds add enchantment to the lovely center opal.
Opals come in different body tones. The most popular body tones are white and black. Some very special opals are even blue.
Quality opal engagement rings can cost as little as $400 and as much as $2,000 USD.
Opals need extra care. They need to be kept away from extreme temperatures or direct sunlight. They are also prone to chipping and breaking. Remove your opal ring when exercising or doing chores or labor. Always take opal pieces to a jeweler for professional cleaning.
There are two ways people replicate opals. They create them in a lab. Or they glue a smaller chunk of opal onto a backing and caps the stone with glass or quartz (called a triplet or doublet).
When you look at the side profile of your ring, you shouldn’t see layers. Layers would tell you the stone is a triplet or doublet. It can be hard to tell.
Lab-created opals are even more difficult to recognize. By obtaining a “certificate of authenticity” from your jeweler, you won’t have to worry.
It’s worth noting that synthetic opals are more durable than natural opals.
Opals make great engagement rings. Our caveat, they are delicate and can break and scratch easily.
Most professional jewelers offer a few options of opal rings.
Juggling ring styles, stone durability and an impending engagement can be a lot. We want this to be a fun experience for you. If you want more help finding the perfect ring, reach out to us anytime.
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