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Opal, The Latest Trend In Jewelery

by Julie MIALET 10 Nov 2021

Long shunned in our European civilizations, Opal seems to find a place of choice in jewelry creation.

The last biennial of antique dealers had magnified it, several large houses in Place Vendôme are now working on it and we are discovering it more and more among designers and jewelers.

In the 19th century, a rumour, peddled by the short story “Anne de Geirstein” written by Walter Scott, designates it as a stone bringing bad luck

However, at the end of the 19th century, leading figures such as Queen Victoria or the French actress Sarah Bernardt rehabilitated it.
René Lalique also uses it a lot in his Art Nouveau creations. The last biennial of antique dealers had magnified it, several large houses of Place Vendôme are now working on it and we discover it more and more among designers and jewelers.


René Lalique, Art Nouveau necklace, diamonds, enamel and fire opals

The name opal comes from the Latin "opalus" meaning precious stone.

Known and appreciated since ancient times, the opal was considered a talisman by the Romans.
Emperor Napoleon I gave his wife Josephine an opal called "the fire of Troy" because of its very pronounced play of colors.

From a chemical and crystallographic point of view, it is a hydrated or gelatinous silica, milky white or bluish, with iridescent reflections.
Opal has a slightly lower hardness and specific gravity than quartz: 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale.

Opal also contains a quantity of water representing between 3 and 10% of the total weight of the stone. This is the reason why it must be protected from heat or intense light, which can evaporate this water and thus cause fractures.
Ultrasound, strong acids or solvents should also be avoided.

Opal has three colors: black, white and transparent.

The quality and rarity of the opal is linked to the distribution of its color spots.
A few types of opal do not show color play: these are orange opals also called fire opals, but also a green variety called prase opal and a blue variety found in Peru.

Depending on the color and appearance, we distinguish:
– noble opals, whose base color is grey, blue or black, which have the appearance of porcelain and a characteristic iridescence.
– fire opals, whose reflections range from yellow to red.
– common opals, very widespread, including pink opal.


Fishnet Earrings Bouquet of Opals Dear Dior Collection

The noble opals of various colors come from Romania and the United States (Nevada, Idaho, Oregon), but the most popular, the black one comes from Australia and the fire opals from Mexico.

The iridescence of the opal is particularly enhanced by the cabochon cut; however, for Mexican fire opal, facet cutting is preferred.

Noble opals (black opal, black to dark gray material, with the most vivid colors) are the most valued and Mexican fire opals can be very valuable gems.


Scarab Ring Opal, Tsavorite, Black Diamonds, Wendy Yue

The intensity of the play of color and its brilliance is the most determining factor in the price of an opal. The colors observed will also influence it.

Beware of imitations, doublets and syntheses


If you are interested in opal, do not hesitate to discover what Julie's stones offer you in store...

We are also available for any free expertise of your opal jewelry, for this you can send an email with your photos to

Whether you're interested in buying a piece of jewellery or a stone, a free jewelry appraisal or jewelry resale, Pierres de Julie welcomes you to its Parisian boutique in the Village Suisse, a stone's throw from the Ecole Militaire and the Esplanade des Invalides.

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