My Profile  |  Contact Us  |  Member Portal

American Gem Society Logo

The Beauty of Opal

With its amazing display of colors and kaleidoscopic patterns, opal is a unique and spectacular gemstone. They’re stunning as rings, pendants, necklaces, and any other jewelry style you can think of! As one of the two birthstones representing October, and the gifting gemstone for 14th wedding anniversaries, there is more to opal than one might think. If you have ever wondered what makes opal special beyond its eye-catching colors, keep reading!

Opal and diamond earrings by Lightning Ridge Collection by John Ford

Each opal has its own uniqueness, but many might not know how they developed. Seasonal rains soaked the parched Outback in Australia, carrying silica deposits underground into cracks between layers of rock. When the water evaporated, these deposits formed opal. Sometimes, silica seeped into spaces around wood, seashells, and skeletons, resulting in opalized fossils.

About 95% of opal comes from Australia, however, a similar mineral has also been found on the red planet, Mars! According to NASA, the Martian rocks are light-toned and appear cream-colored, containing a hydrated mineral similar to opal.

Light opal and pink sapphire earrings by Sloane Street

For centuries, opals have been the star of many legends, including Greek mythology! Ancient Greeks believed that opal came from the tears of Zeus, the god of lightning, after winning a battle against the Titans. His joyful tears turned into opal when they landed upon Earth.

Ocean necklace with freeform opal doublet by Lika Behar.
Yellow Gold Pendant featuring a fiery Ethiopian opal by AG Gems.
As magical as opals are, they can be fragile and require special care. Because opals are composed of five to 10 percent water, they will deteriorate over time as they dry out. As they dry, they turn milky, losing their beautiful layers of color, and may crack. It’s important to store them in cool, moist places, minimizing exposure to heat and dry conditions.
"Dragon" fire opal and diamond ring by Yael Designs.
"Flow" fire opal and diamond ring by Yael Designs.

If you adore opals and would like to add them to your fine jewelry collection, find an AGS jeweler near you today.