October babies are known for their inborn elegance, style and good taste. It is therefore no surprise that they have not only one, but two birthstones: the timeless opal and the brilliant tourmaline.
In this article we will discuss opals.
Opals come in many types and colours. From precious white and black opals, to boulder and fire opal. Even chocolate opal as found in Ethiopia. It is a relatively soft stone, measuring 5.5 – 6.5 on Mohs scale of hardness. It might be easy to damage and hard to work with, but it is impossible not to be seduced by its sheer celebration of colour. While most gemstones are cut or facetted to calibrated sizes and shapes, opals are frequently cut as cabochons with freeform shapes. The irregular shapes make each opal unique and bring creativity to jewellery design.
When designing your dream piece of jewellery, keep in mind that opal is a soft stone. The setting should not only enhance but also protect your precious investment. As far as caring for your opals is concerned remember that they are sensitive to acids and alkalis. It makes them vulnerable to perfumes, soaps and detergents so remove your jewellery beforehand.
Lastly, opal is composed of hydrated silica gel that has a water content of between 5 and 30 percent. Over time water evaporation occurs naturally. This can be avoided by storing it in moist cotton wool.
Sources: The jeweller’s directory of gemstones by Judith Crowe