The birthstone for October is the stunning iridescent opal. Almost as if having small fires inside of itself, opal has been capturing the imaginations for centuries. Opal is an appealing versatile stone with incredible colour. The most commonly accepted etymology of opal’s name comes from the Sanskrit word upala. It first appeared around 250BC when opal was see as the most precious gemstone. Other sources claim opal comes from opalus which translated from ancient Greek is thought to mean “to see a change in colour”, however this theory is not often supported.
Opal is a hydrated amorphous form of silica. This makes opal not a crystal the same way amethysts or emeralds are. Opal comes in two distinct forms common and precious, with only precious opal displaying iridescent properties. The stone’s internal structure is responsible for its iridescence as it diffracts light in a particular way. Depending on the conditions on which the opal is formed it can be practically any colour, the most common are white, grey and green while black is seen as the rarest. It’s opacity is also dependent on the forming conditions.
In the Middle Ages opal was a highly revered stone. It was thought to possess all the properties of every other coloured stone due to its colour shifting ability and hence was incredibly caught after. Through the mid to late 19th century however opal began to be associated with death and misfortune due to the novel Anne of Geierstein by Sir Walter Scott.
Today opal is associated with hope and innocence. It is also associated with loyalty and faithfulness, making it the perfect gift for a spouse or a close friend. Due to its connection to eyes in Greek mythology, opal is also seen as being able to help with clarity, imagination and dreams.
This ring by Treasure House is a fantastic example of the versatility of opals. The band of the ring is made of 9 karat yellow gold. Set on either side of the luxurious oval opal stone are several smaller diamonds in leaf shapes. The iridescence of the opal helps it take centre stage. The multi-coloured hues and shimmers complement both metal colours on the ring, making the stone stand out beautifully. This ring is the ideal present for a loved one or as a more unconventional engagement ring with a vintage tone. Whatever the occasion, this piece will ensure it is never forgotten.
If you’re after a ring with a more sophisticated appeal, this opal ring from Elements Gold is perfect for you. The band is made of 9 carat yellow gold. The round cut opal is set in the middle of the band. Surrounding the stone on 4 sides are set smaller diamonds. Adding to the exquisite design of this ring is the twisted design of the band. The band combined with the shimmering stone gives this ring an almost otherworldly appearance. Delicate and feminine, this ring is a must-have.
If you like the look of the shifting colours of the opal however you don’t like the stone itself or the way it shifts, why not replace it with pearl. Pearlescence has a similar colour shifting ability, though not exactly the same as opals. This elegant pair of drop earrings by Elements Gold are refined yet understated. The earrings are 9 karat gold and each oval section features mother-of-pearl on the inside for a more intriguing glamorous effect.
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