Weddings are full of traditions, that’s part of the celebratory fun. They often draw on customs borrowed from yesteryear that, by today’s standards, make little sense. Picking out something blue. Throwing the bouquet. Procuring something borrowed. The first dance. And, the one unforgettable custom that kicks off the whole affair, the thing so many brides dream of — The engagement ring. The classic proverbial spark that lights that bonfire. Engagement rings are magnificent, incredible symbols used to represent a bond between two people. In today’s age, gold and diamonds are no longer the exclusive standard and Opal is gaining ground. If you haven’t considered an Opal engagement ring for that special someone, let us give you an introduction to their beauty, allure, appeal, and untraditional mystique.
Opal Engagement Rings — What is Opal?
Opal is an incredibly unique and beautiful gemstone that is known not only for its display of flashing colors but also for its deep history. A history full of wonder and intrigue and more than 4000 years of tales. Opals are most abundantly mined in Australia, and they are formed over millions of years throughout the dry periods after seasonal rains. Opal is the October birthstone, and this amorphous silica - no two Opals are the same - falls into two broad classes: precious Opal and common Opal.
Precious Opal is what is typically used in fine jewelry, thus most Opal engagement rings are made out of this class. Why? Precious Opal, unlike its counterpart, displays the gemstone's characteristic play-of-color, otherwise known as iridescence. It is a chromatic optical effect that results in brilliant flashes of colored light from diffraction - or the way the light bounces off the various spheres within the gemstone’s body and the size of the spaces between them.
Opals have been used in fine jewelry for ages. They have a deep meaning and for a period in history were even more popular in engagement rings than diamonds. With its broad appeal and unreal ability to reflect every color of the rainbow in one single stone, Opal was bestowed the title “The Queen of Gems.” They are rife with history and bursting with supernatural lore. In the middle ages Opals were believed to come from the stars and folks were certain that they had the power to make the wearer invisible — the idea of Tolkien’s ring, from The Hobbit and other tales, and it's awesome power, was inspired by Opal.
Opal rose into fashion in antiquity, and amongst its many admirers we find none other than Marc Antony and his beloved Cleopatra. Other famous personalities that have become spellbound by Opal? We have Queen Victoria, Empress Josephine, Queen Elizabeth, Catherine the Great, and the list goes on....
Why invest in an Opal Engagement Ring
Opal engagement rings are a beautiful option for untraditional, non-diamond-seeking brides. They are truly unique and one of a kind as no two Opals are exactly the same. Opals display a different, more complex type of flash for the eye than a diamond. Something more natural, far more complicated, and far more sensuous. Opals allow for the unexpected, leaving room to see something new and different from each angle and in every type of light. It is a one-of-a-kind gemstone; a befitting reflection of your relationship with your one and only.
Another great benefit with Opal engagement rings is that they are not only breathtaking, but they are also conflict-free. In an age where there is significant concern about gemstones sourced from regions of strife, this concern is alleviated when considering an Opal as an alternative engagement ring to some of the more controversial options available.
And finally, Opal rings are generally more budget-friendly than the traditional diamond model. The real estate you can acquire in a gorgeous Opal can vastly outweigh the diamond size obtainable with the same budget. They are still jaw-dropping marvelous center stones while also being more affordable. And with such a wide range of Opal types available, there is an Opal for every palate and price point.
Opal engagement rings carry a fascinating historical significance, irresistible charm, and a color story diamonds just can’t compete with.
What To Look For In An Opal Engagement Ring
How much does an Opal Engagement ring cost?
Opals, like diamonds, come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes. An Opal ring’s value will no doubt find itself tied to these characteristics as well as the ingenuity of design and the setting — the precious metal on which it is inlaid into. White Opal is a common color, frequently used in engagement rings. Black Opals, meanwhile, due to their rarity, are generally the most expensive, and are less often used in engagement rings. Here at NIXIN Jewelry, one of our favorite Opal engagement rings we’ve created includes a Lightning Ridge Dark Crystal Opal with a rolling blue flash. We then paired it with sparkling blue sapphires and set it into a custom formed 18k gold mounting to create the Midnight Phantom Ring.
Midnight Phantom Cobalt Blue Opal Gold Ring
What Type of Opal is it?
Each Opal type has a unique look and it's important to select one that best complements and accentuates the skin tone of your bride. Crystal Opal looks translucent and has an ephemeral quality to it. White Opal has a rich milky body tone and isn’t always as fiery as other types. It’s also worth investigating options like Black Opal and Boulder Opal to see if these are better suited to the bride.
Where does the Opal come from?
95% of all Opals are mined in Australia. It’s important to know what continent or country your Opal comes from to better understand the performance history of that Opal type and manage expectations. For example, black Opals from Lightning Ridge, Australia, are considered the “Rolls Royce” of Opal and are incredibly rare and usually expensive. Opals from the Queensland field have a stunning color and can be a bit heavier due to their natural ironstone backing — which can also make them stronger.
It’s also important to determine the quality of the Opal. Judge its play of color, its body tone, its patterns, its thickness, its setting, and natural faults. For example, natural inclusions are normal and can give the gemstone character, but cracks from mining, or as a result from setting are elements to avoid when shopping for an Opal engagement ring. A trustworthy jeweler will guide you appropriately, and should ask you questions about your lifestyle and how you use your hands in your daily routine. They should feel just as comfortable telling you what not to purchase, based on your feedback, as they should trying to sell you the perfect Opal ring as your forever piece.
Ask how to take care of your Opal engagement ring?
Unlike diamonds, Opals are delicate gemstones. To care for them properly, you want to avoid sudden changes in temperature, chemical exposures and rigorous activity while wearing them. For simple at home cleaning, you can use a mild detergent and lukewarm water, and gently clean them with a soft microfiber cloth. Solid Opals can be submerged in water, however prolonged exposure to water can permanently damage Opal Doublets or Triplets. Should you take your Opal jewelry to a jeweler for professional cleaning, be sure they know how to properly handle Opals, and will not be using an ultrasonic cleaner which can crack the gemstone. If ever stored away, be sure to protect your Opal jewelry from damage by placing it in a temporary soft cloth or plastic bag, out of harm’s way. With proper care, Opal rings and other Opal jewelry can last a lifetime.
We’d love to send the piece of a lifetime your way - come explore our extraordinary selection of one of a kind Opal magic.