Opal Rings

If you want a ring that will catch your attention every time you glance at it, consider an opal ring. These rings, such as white opal rings and black opal inlay rings, have so many colors that they seem to glimmer in the light. However, make sure you are willing to take it off everytime you come in contact with water (even washing your hands) and during other activities that will harm it as it is a fragile stone.

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Where Else Besides Australia

by Margaret Burgon Klemp

It is known that an opal is liable to be more valuable and authentic if it is found in a very dry climate. That is the reason that opal is so plentiful in Australia. In fact, the loss of water is one of the reasons that it so sensitive and breaks and cracks so easily. There is a large variety of opals: there are fire opals, precious opals, common opals, boulder opals, black opals, blue opals, and white opals. The stone comes in wide variety of colors with interplay of colored streaks or specks running through it.

Mexican Fire Opal

Opals can be found in many other places. Mexico is the primary home to the red colored fire opal. Mexico still remains a leading producer of the fire opal. Modern day discovery of the fire opal occurred in 1835 in the Mexican highlands. The gem had been a favorite of ancient native tribes, but had almost been forgotten. Because of the myriad of extinct volcanoes that exist in Mexico, the highlands are a fruitful breeding ground for the fire opal. Fire opals are mined in an open-pit format. They lie in deep cavities and crevices from which they are carefully extracted. While Mexico produces the finest red opals other variations of it can be found in other parts of the world. Orange-red opals can be found in Honduras, Guatemala, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ethiopia and Turkey. Brazil has recently started producing their own fire opal with ranges in yellow to orange hues. What makes them unique is their size. They are much larger than regular fire opals. There is a growing market for these gemstones.

Opal from the United States

Gemstones are often overlooked as a major industry in the United States although there are excellent sources and mines here. Idaho is known as the Gem State, and does produce opals along with other gems. In fact it is the second largest producer of opals. The high desert around Spencer, Idaho is the states. largest gem producer. The location is near Yellowstone Park which is near a lot of geyser and volcanic activity. In fact, the mine is made up of rhyolite and obsidian that has gas pockets in it, and silica which is necessary for much gemstone production and was carried to its. resting place by geyser activity. Over a long period of time these outbursts from the earth left thin layers of opals which are known as triplet opals. Some of the finest specimens in the world come from the Spencer mine. A triplet opal is not a solid opal, but an opal of three different pieces. A flat thin slice of precious opal is usually found on the back of a common opal. It can also be dark glass or porcelain. A dome of clear crystal is cemented to the stone with resin. There are also doublet opals which are more valuable than triplets because of more opal content. Both common and precious pink opals can be found at the Spencer mine.

Where to Dig for Opal

In Nevada opals come from the Virgin Valley where they were first discovered in 1906. They range from a black and brown all the way along the color scale to yellow and white. These opals are different in that they replace wood or conifer cones. They completely replace the wood. These opals are known to be very sensitive to crazing. All opals have this in common, but those found in Nevada can completely deteriorate. Crazing is the process where the opal falls prey to very fine cracks all over the surface. The opals from the Virgin Valley are really not suitable for use in jewelry, but can be displayed in water and other liquids and are fine museum pieces. The owners of the mines in the area allow gem enthusiasts to come on their property and dig for a fee. The valley is host to a slew of opal hunters every year.

Other opal beds can be found in Louisiana, Oregon and Arizona as well as other smaller sites in the United States.


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Gemstones: Symbols of Beauty and Power, Eduard Gubelin and Franz-Xaver Erni, Geoscience Press, Tucson, Arizona

Gems in Myth, Legend and Lore Revised Edition , Bruce G. Knuth, Jewelers Press, Thornton, Colorado

Gems and Crystals: From the American Museum of Natural History (Rocks, Minerals and Gemstones) , Anna S. Sofianides and George E. Harlow, Simon and Schuster, New York, New York