Caring for Opals

Updated: Feb 23

TWO RINGS - Commission using Customers own Opals

Black Opal, 9ct Yellow Gold (left), White Opal, 9ct Rose Gold (right)

If you follow my social media you may have seen this double commission that I finished recently. I designed these two rings, using the customers own Opals, bought in Australia, as inspiration. There has been a lot of interest in the opals since, and they're a really lovely stone to work with, so I thought I would tell you a little bit about Opals and how to care for them. . . .

How is an Opal made?

Opals are most commonly found in Australia, this is because when Australia formed as a continent it was covered by a great inland sea, which laid down layers of sediment. As the sea subsided, little deposits of silica (SiO2, or in other words, quartz), filled in the small cracks and crevices that were created as the bed of the sea dried out.

Opal is a hydrated amorphous form of silica, which means it is made up of a mixture of silica and water. Compressed over time, these silica deposits became harder in the same way that other sedimentary rocks are formed. An average Australian opal contains between 5 and 6 percent of water and it is full of silica spheres which give the opal its rainbow colours.

Why choose Opals?

For this commission the customer chose Opals as a reminder of her trip to Australia. Returning with a precious stone bought while abroad can be a nice way to create memories and support the local economy. However you can also contact your local / favourite jeweller and ask them to source an Opal on your behalf.

I particularly love working with Opals because it reminds me of my time spent studying in Perth WA, on a placement from my jewellery degree. While I was there I fell in love with the landscape. The vastness of the dusty, red plateau makes it easy to imagine you're standing on the bottom of that ancient, inland lake. There's something about the heat and the colours of the rocky landscape that the iridescence of an Opal manages to capture and I love trying to translate this into my work.