I wanted to write to let you all know about something exciting that happened to me recently. I not long ago took on a new love affair. I think you may know who it is too. And before you ask, yes my husband is fully aware of this new relationship and is also very supportive of it.
Let me introduce you to the spectacular, intriguing and downright beautiful Boulder Opal. There are many types of Opals, there is Black Opal, White Opal, Crystal Opal, Fire Opal and Jelly Opal to name a few. Opals are best known to come from Australia and in my opinion the best quality also but there are other places in the world where opals are also mined, such as Mexico, Ethiopia, Brazil and Honduras. Opal is also one of the Birthstones for October.
All gemstones are fascinating to me and the process of how they have formed within the earth. Opal is different from other gemstones in the way in which it is formed, and another reason why it is so special. Opal is a noncrystalline form of the mineral silica and is formed from amorphous "balls" or "lumps" of silica. So the opal is a very unique gem compared with others, like diamonds or a ruby which is formed crystalline. This is the reason why the variation of colours exists in opals.
Let's look a little further into the process of the opal forming. It is formed from a solution of silicon dioxide and water. As water runs down through the earth, it picks up silica from sandstone and carries this silica-rich solution into cracks and voids, caused by natural faults or decomposing fossils. As the water evaporates, it leaves behind a silica deposit. This cycle repeats over long periods of time, and eventually, opal is formed. It takes about 5-6 million years to make a 1cm opal to mature.
Most Australian opals contain 3-5% water, and generally, the deeper the miner digs the more water content the Opal will have. The water content in opal is determined during the formation of the stone, with water molecules locked into tiny voids within the opal's crystalline silicon structure. Australian Opal is non-porous and therefore impervious - it cannot soak up water, oil, or anything else. Unlike opals from some other locations which can change their appearance after they are submerged in water.
Opals are a delicate stone, they are more fragile than most other gemstones, but they aren't quite as fragile as most people imagine. Opals are about the same hardness as a piece of glass, so avoid heavy manual labour, moving furniture and such or vigorous activity where your opal may impact with a hard surface and you and your opal will have a long and happy relationship. Boulder Opal is sturdier and harder to damage mainly as it is mostly formed on an ironstone backing and is stable. This ironstone can be a deep brown chocolate colour to sandy ironstone with a light brown colour.
Caring for your opal jewellery is not difficult or different from your other gemstone pieces and treasured all the same. If you need to refresh some of your jewellery, take a look at my jewellery cleaning guide for my best recommendations on how to keep everything looking sparkling and clean.
Now you know some more about this alluring gemstone that has become such a favourite of mine, I hope that you also start a new love affair with this breathtaking gemstone too.
If you are ready to take your Opal relationship to the next level then check out my ready to ship Boulder Opal Rings available on my website right now. If you are after something a little more special then I also have 3 remarkable loose Boulder Opals that are currently available to be claimed as your own and made into your very own one of a kind ring or necklace. As these would be a made to order and customised for you the stones are listed and photographed unset with measurements listed and also a photo on my hand as a size reference. This is a great opportunity to have a totally customized and unique piece of jewellery made with a hand-selected stone.