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  • Writer's pictureLee Lally

The Australian Opal: Nature’s Eye Candy

Over the past 15 years, opals have gotten a bad rap. After having a fashion moment during the 1980s, these mysterious stones quickly become synonymous with tacky ’80s jewelry, and were waylaid soon after. This is not the opal’s fault. It is not the opal’s fault that hundreds of bad jewelry designers got together and decided it would only be set in yellow gold. It is not the opal’s fault that they decided the could only be cut into marquis-shaped cabochons and then set into tacky cocktail rings. These crimes do not belong to the stone, only to those who mishandled it.

So Custom jewelry is here to set the record straight: Opals are Mother Nature’s eye candy. Created to tantalize our eyes and capture our imaginations, these beautiful opaque stones are not only dreamy by themselves, but can be simply swoon-worthy when set in a ring that enhances it’s natural fire.

October’s birthstone, opals are technically a mineraloid, rather than a full fledged mineral. They are comprised mainly of silica with a small percentage of water, and they form slowly over millions of years as layers upon layers of silica deposit uniformly in one spot. Not all opals that are formed will have the “play of light” or “opalescence” that we’ve come to signify with the opal’s name, but those that do can vary drastically in color simply based on where it’s formed and under what climate conditions. Opals can come in many colors, including black and green, and typically display almost every color of the rainbow in their opalescence.

But beyond the science of opals, all I know is that I love them, and I’m loving that they are having a resurgence in popularity right now. As a jewelry designer, I feel like it is my duty to help right the wrongs of jewelry past, so we were thrilled when not one but two clients recently asked us to show opals some love. The first was a pendant we created from a lovely and large Australian opal. The second was an heirloom redesign, where we took stones from multiple family rings and formed them into one gorgeous engagement ring. One set in silver, the the other in yellow gold, you can see with just a bit of a modern touch and the love of a master jeweler, these stones become not only tiny masterpieces, but fashion statements, rather than fashion mistakes.

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