History of the Opal

The fiery play of color indicative of the finest opal has intrigued people since ancient times, when the Romans revered opal as a symbol of hope and purity, and the Arabs believed that opals fell from the sky in lightning flashes.

October’s birthstone originates when silica slowly settle out of a dilute watery solution. Opal is not crystalline and is best described as solid, hydrous, silica gel. Spheres of opal form as the water slowly evaporates within a sedimentary environment, as is the case for Australian opal. Volcanics give rise to the bright oranges and yellows of Mexican fire opal, which Mark has designed many pieces with, including diamond slice and fire opal earrings, pendants, and rings. The play of color in an opal results from the diffraction of light off the tightly packed spheres and the voids between the spheres. The diameter of the spheres is critical to producing the best play of color. If the spheres of opal are too big or distorted, the opal will not show vivid colors.

Opal Color Gemstones

The most valuable opal is Black opal, a vivid play of colors with the red flashes commanding a premium price, on a black or navy background. Other types of opal are white opal, fire opal, boulder opal and crystal opal. When opal replaces fossil ammonite, it is mined and used in the jewelry industry as the organic gemstone Ammolite, and is highly prized both for its beauty and provenance. Most Ammolite is mined in Southern Alberta, Canada.

Cleaning Opal Jewelry

Opals of all kinds should be cleaned with care and never placed in jewelry cleaning solutions or ultrasonic cleaners. Clean with a soft damp cloth and rub periodically with an olive oil moistened cloth to prevent the opal from crazing or drying out.

Opal Fine Color Gemstone Jewelry by Mark Schneider Design

At Mark Schneider Design, we carry a wonderful selection of white, black and fire opal jewels, together with Mark’s award winning Ammolite jewelry. View the Contemporary Fire Opal Ring.  See our color collection to view more Opal designs and come and visit us for all your opal needs.