Opal Engagement Rings: Beautiful Rainbow Gems or Bad Luck Nightmares?

Rest assured that buying opal engagement rings for your partner will not bring them bad luck but perhaps even the opposite. Concerning the opal gemstone superstition, some still feel that it is bad luck to purchase an opal for oneself, but good luck if someone else gives one to you. Throughout history there have been negative connotations associated with opals. Interestingly enough, it is said that the diamond brokers became nervous in the 18th and 19th century about the beatiful gemstone stealing away diamond customers and further perpepuated stereotypes of the opal to prevent this from happening. The powers that be tried hard to defeat this bad luck urban legend when huge amounts of opals were found in Australia.

I personally love opal engagement rings. With their rainbow hues, I just think opals are some of the prettiest stones around. The rainbow shades are often referred to as a "play of color." Most of the opal supply come from our Aussie friends in Southern Australia.

Here's the science behind the opals. Opals are a noncrystalline form of the mineral silica which are formed from amorphous "balls" or "lumps" of silica. In other words, water in the ground carrying dissolved silica seeps through sand and dirt, where the silica particles are deposited in cracks. As the water evaporates, the silica particles cement together to form the opal. The color is caused by the diffraction of light. Where the tiny spheres of silica are of a similar size and arrangement, the light reflecting from them is divided into its spectral colors, and the stone appears to contain all the colors of the rainbow. Where the spheres are larger and less uniform, the range of color is more limited.

One of the major downfalls of opal engagement rings compared to diamonds is that it is opals are a much softer stone. While the diamond is considered to be a 10 on the Mohs hardness sclae, the opal rates between a 5 and a 6. This means that over time, it is possible for the opal to break and you must be careful to treat it with care and look for a ring setting that best preserves its integrity (i.e. semi-bezel is a good choice).

Opals exhibit an impressive color range. They can be white, pink, green and blue, gray, or black. Australian boulder opals are the most durable of opals as well as the most robust in color. As a result, they are considered to be valuable and are pretty pricey. Here is an example of an Australian boulder opal

Black opals are actually the most rare and expensive. They have a dark backdrop with a rainbow colors or deep blue-green hues. Fire opals, which have any color backdrop but exhibit an unusual amount of red color play are also fairly rare.

There are a thousand legends and stories related to the opal gemstone.

The Ancient Greeks believed opals fell from heaven during flashes of lightning and provided individuals with the ability to see into the future.

The Romans thought that wearing opals made one more lucid in thought and spontaneous in action.

Can you believe this? In his play "Tweltfh Night," Shakespeare made use of the gemstone to make an analogy between the opal's changing colors and the ever-changing moods of a woman. Hmmmmmmmm.......not sure if I like the comparison.

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