Opal is a rare, extremely expensive gemstone. Simply stating that opal is “highly appreciated” and “very precious” is insufficient to convey how stunning it is. A person is seduced by its fascinating color. Opal justifiably takes the stage in expensive jewelry. Why is it so precious? Why does the price of opal reach hundreds of dollars per carat? Let’s dig into the flashes of the gorgeous opals to discover the answer.
What is Black Opal?
Opal can be either pale and delicate or dark and dazzling, and it contains every color of the rainbow, from the clearest and deepest blues to the most iridescent greens, along with golden orange, red, and fuchsia.
Because of its structure, opal can have any combination of an endless number of patterns and can either reveal itself all at once, shining brilliantly from every angle, or it can be silent and unexpected, shining brightest only during brief flashes of movement.
Because it changes color when the observer spins the stone, precious opal is unlike any other gemstones.
How is Opal Formed?
The opal’s distinctiveness goes beyond the actual stone that miners toil to extract, the spectacular stones you see on display at opal shops, and the breathtaking pieces made by specialized jewelry makers. The production of the opal is so uncommon that it only occurs in a select few locations due to the complex combination of geological, climatic, and biological factors that must be present for it to form. Fortunately, Australia is one of those locations, and the central desert regions of our country produce about 90% of the world’s opals.
During the Cretaceous period (145–65 million years ago), the interior of Australia was covered by an inland sea. Toward the end of this era, the water receded, refilled, and receded several times and continued to do so for many eons, resulting in deposits of fine marine sands rich in silica being deposited on the ever-changing shoreline. Large amounts of soluble silica were liberated by significant weathering that was occurring to the stratified sediment about 30 million years ago.
The silica-rich solution was able to seep down through voids and crevices in the ground, and it is in these places that opal is formed. The solution also filled in the holes left by the decomposition of organic material from plants and animals that was deposited in the sediment during the Cretaceous period, creating the highly sought-after fossilized opal. A 1cm thick opal vein could grow as a result of this extremely slow process in as little as 5 million years, according to specialists.
Opal mining is not a precise science because of the peculiar nature of its development, for which there are no steady laws of the causes of how and where it is generated. Opal mining is frequently compared to playing the lottery, but it requires a lot of mining.
The end product is a non-crystalline silica gemstone that resembles quartz but is not a mineral. The peculiar diffraction of light caused by its interior structure creates the colors white, grey, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, magenta, rose, pink, slate, olive, brown, and black.
Black opal has traditionally been the most valuable and well-known opal, so let’s take a deep dive into this opal.
Myths And Legends About Opals
Opals are believed to bring either good or bad luck to the wearer depending on the culture. Opals are thought to have their vibrant colors because they are Zeus’ tears, according to ancient Greek belief. Opals were dreaded by the Aboriginals because they thought they were a component of the “Rainbow Serpent.” Opal’s appeal as a jewelry stone belies its unfavorable reputation, nevertheless. Opal was regarded as the birthstone for October up until 1912. In that year, the National Association of Jewelers published a list of contemporary birthstones that only included clear gemstones. Opal was thus replaced by tourmaline. Also downgraded were some more gems. For instance, aquamarine was used in place of March’s bloodstone. There is no connection between these adjustments and bad luck. Even today, birthstone changes are still happening, largely due to marketing.
Of course, some people continue to focus on the negative. A woman recently informed me that wearing an opal if it wasn’t your birthstone was extremely unlucky.
Black Opal: The Mother Of All Gemstones
The Origins of Black Opals: Where They Came From and How they Formed
Around the 1880s or 1890s, black opal was found in Australia at Lightning Ridge, New South Wales. Since then, it has gained worldwide recognition as the most brilliant and beautiful opal on earth. It is highly regarded and sought for all over the world. Black opal is typically found between 25 and 45 feet in depth in “nobby” (nodules of potch and color) or “seam” (horizontal deposit) formations, and is mined primarily by shafts. Because of its dark body tone, which gives its color an extra brilliance not seen in the more typical white opals found in South Australia, black opal is known as the “Rolls Royce” of opals.
The dark body tone of black opal, which ranges from dark grey to black, gives it its name. Compared to if the stone were white, the color stands out significantly more due to the stone’s blackness. On the back of the stone, black opal frequently has a natural potch backing (colorless opal), which also contributes to the stone’s dark body tone. (Note: Triplets and doublets are fake black opals created by adhering a small piece of opal to a black background.)
How Do Black Opals Get Their Color?
Actually, black opal doesn’t look black. Their dark appearance is a result of a natural substance called “potch” that covers their bodies. All the hues of the rainbow can dance in fascinating patterns against this background. Other gemstones get their hue as a result of particular components that were present during creation. For instance, only the presence of boron causes a diamond to turn blue. Why then do black opals have such a wide range of vivid colors at once?
Opals are the true masters of light diffraction among all gemstones. This is so because silica, a key component of both, is also found in glass. As was already indicated, as the water evaporates, a coating of silica is left behind. These deposits are spherical, and the gaps between the spheres are made by layering them one on top of the other. Light splits like a rainbow when it passes through the spheres and their gaps. The end result is the multicolored patterns of an opal that resemble aurora or even peacock-like.
How Are Black Opals Graded?
Opal’s value is determined by 8 factors. The key ones include color, color play, pattern, clarity, brightness, place of origin, and untreated condition. The best opals are from Australia and have a black background hue with a vibrant, bright, and equally distributed play of colors.
Opals cost more than gold and diamonds combined! The cost of Australian black opal can occasionally exceed $10,000 per carat (0,2 grams only!). Evaluating opal is complicated because each gemstone is unique.
What Is Opal Brilliance?
When an opal is face up, its brilliance refers to how vivid and clear the colors look. Are they vibrant and crisp? Or are they unclear and boring? Opals are classified by experts as brilliant, bright, muted, or dull in accordance. More colors on a dull stone will sell for less in the market than a bright opal with less color play because brilliance is so crucial.
What is Opal Transparency?
Opal transparency is exactly what it sounds like: if the stone is placed on a page with direct light, it is translucent enough to read text through the stone. As a result, opals can be either transparent (clear) or opaque (cloudy). In fact, an opal is called a “crystal” if it is more or less clear, whereas those with cloudiness are called “semi-crystals” or “translucent.” The various layers of color will be simpler to see in an opal the more transparent it is.
Fun Fact: Opals contain water. Opals from Australia are more resilient because they contain less water. In fact, some can dry up over time, which reduces the durability of the stones.
What are Opal Color Patterns?
Even though they’re sometimes described as having a “Jackson Pollock of colors,” this is not the case with all opals. Sometimes they form distinctive patterns, with some being more scarce and precious than others. These can be very good to very excellent. “Excellent” category will sell for more than “good” pattern because of the greater demand for quality.
The rarer the combination of characteristics it possesses, in general, the greater the value of a precious opal. The final cost may be determined by factors such as consumer demand and the current state of the market, much as is the case with fine art, wine, and jewelry.
Buying Black Opal? What Should I Look For?
We’ll outline black opal’s distinguishing features below:
Color, Body Tone, and Play of Color
What shade of opal is the rarest? Black opal, as you could have guessed, is the answer! Black opal, yet, is it truly black? Indeed no. The hues of black opal range from black to dark gray, but they are all distinguished by a dark body tone. That is why “dark opal” is a common nickname for black opal.
Black opal has other colors besides only black. As opposed to that, it has a black body tone that contrasts brightly with the light flashes.
As a result, the best black opals will have a wide range of bright hues that work together to produce an amazing color play. What causes the distinctive colors in black opal? The black body tone of the gemstone is created by traces of iron oxide and carbon, which improve light refraction and let out a complete spectrum of colors.
In terms of color play, black opal colors include vivid blue, green, yellow, orange, and blazing red variations .
Play of color is the term used to describe how light interacts only in opals. The black opal allows light to enter, which then reacts with the stacked silica spheres to reflect a dazzling display of colors. The result of this optical interaction is a rainbow display known as “fire” or “play of color.”
The clarity of the majority of black opal gemstones ranges from translucent to opaque. Inclusions are usually what gives black opals their distinctive appearance. Gemstone inclusions are minute amounts of impurities and trace minerals that give gemstones their distinctive hues, patterns, and cloudiness. While certain imperfections are preferable in opals, they are unwanted in transparent precious gems like diamonds and emeralds.
Black opal contains common opal (potch) inclusions. However, when a black opal crazes owing to drying the naturally hydrated stone, the value is completely reduced. Crazing and fractures appear as a result, effectively ruining the stone. Black opal should typically exhibit a waxy, lustrous shine without showing synthetic or plastic-like.
Black opal must be cut and polished with consideration for the original rough specimen. For instance, lapidaries and gem cutters will try to cut the stone to show off its most appealing features, such as pattern and color play. Overall, the cabochon, or “cab” for short, form with an oval shape suits itself to black opal the best.
This method of polishing and smoothing doesn’t leave any sharp lines in the gem; instead, it polishes the gem to bring out its distinctive features.
Less frequently seen are black opal cuts in the trillion and teardrop shapes. The shape of the dome, which can either emphasize or minimize the gemstone’s color bars, is a crucial component of a good opal cut. Given this, a low dome will show the color bars the best, especially if they are thin.
Rarely will high-quality Australian black opals undergo treatments because the gemstones are so vividly colored by nature. Having said that, treatments are frequently given to Ethiopian Black Opal using a special and traditional method.
Smoking the opal allows carbon to permeate the stone, enhancing the color and making it more vivid and striking. To darken the body tone of some gems, they are first steeped in sugar water and sulfuric acid and then slowly heated.
The techniques mentioned above don’t harm the gemstone, but coated treatments should be avoided. To intensify the hues, some black opals are coated, however this exposes the gem to polymers and other resins that could change it.
Tips For Buying A Man’s Opal Ring
Select a bezel (rub-over) setting. For men’s opal rings, this is very much a “must,” as rub-over settings offer far superior stability and protection for your opal. The edge of the stone is followed by a thin gold bezel that protects it from damage and keeps it firmly in place. Particularly in rings, claw settings are much less durable, offer minimal security, and can deteriorate over time.
Boulder opal is more durable. Queensland boulder opal is stronger and has a benefit over other forms of opal because of its extremely hard natural ironstone foundation. Boulder opal is the best type of opal for a man’s ring. Although they are appropriate, white, black, and crystal opals lack the boulder opals’ level of durability. Boulder opals encourage greater design innovation because of their distinctive, “free” shape.
Choose a gemstone with a low cabochon (i.e. dome on top). If your stone has a flat or low cabochon top, it is less likely to be damaged than an opal with a high cabochon because high cabochon opals are more exposed and susceptible to impact damage.
You might want to think about having your ring fashioned in 14k gold since it is tougher than 18k gold. It also costs less. The harder wearing the stone and setting, the better for men’s opal rings.
Your opal ring’s final price will be determined by factors such as the size of your finger, the quality of the stone, and the type of setting you select. If you’re interested in discussing man’s opal ring custom designed, please get in touch with us. More about mens opal ring: Guide to the Best Men’s Opal Rings in 2022
Black Opal Rings For Men - Tips and Ideas
Koa Wood Blue Opal Inlaid Wedding Band BlackTungsten Ring Black Opal Ring Men
Three insets of Koa Wood and Blue Opal are present on this elegant Men’s Ring. The Black Tungsten Wedding Band is polished both inside and out for a refined appearance. This ring stands out from the rest due to its intricate design. Blue opal is a lovely gemstone, and Koa is a dark brown tropical hardwood.
Black Opal Ring for Men Ceramic Ring Black Opal Inlay
This black ceramic band has the ideal amount of sheen thanks to its polished surface and beveled edges. The centerpiece of this ring is a black opal that is set between polished beveled edges. Made of black ceramic, this ring is as tough and scratch resistant as tungsten carbide and won’t fade easily.
Black Opal Men’s Wedding Band Vintage Black Opal Tungsten Ring
The utmost attention was taken in the creation of this magnificent opal and tungsten ring. It should appear lively and vivid from every angle. Wearing your black opal ring will allow you to transition between more professional and informal outfits with ease. This ring has a 4mm width and is made of tungsten, which lasts forever.
Ceramic Ring Blue & Green Opal Inlay Black Opal for Men
No matter how tough of treatment it endures, this ring’s Black Ceramic structure ensures that it will keep its luster and sparkle. This ring’s shimmering blue and green opal inlay is complemented by the beveled edges. Black Ceramic, a very light metal, is as resilient as Tungsten Carbide and matches its strength.
Black Opal Rings for Men Ceramic Ring Emerald Green & Sapphire Blue Opal
This distinctive Comfort Fit Ring from our Ceramic Bands Collection has a lovely polished appearance. The heart of the ring is exquisitely inlaid with a color opal that is both sapphire blue and emerald green. Only men may wear this black ceramic band, which is carved in the beveled style, as an engagement ring.
Frequently Asked Questions
Read on for answers to some commonly asked questions:
How much more valuable is opal than diamond?
Diamond and opal quality is the most important factor. But sometimes the price of a high-quality opal can be several thousand dollars per carat (0.2 grams). Black genuine Australian opals can fetch upwards of $10,000 per carat, making them significantly more valuable than even the rarest of diamonds.
Is the Value of Opal Greater Than That of Gold?
It’s a fact that opal costs more than gold. Presently, a carat of gold will set you back about $12, making the per-gram price roughly $60. Additionally, opal can be purchased anywhere from $10 to thousands of dollars per carat, with the highest quality material fetching up to $6,000 per carat in rare instances.
What Metal Goes Best With Opal?
We most frequently suggest White or Yellow Gold (in 14k or 18k versions) for natural opal. If you want the white metal aesthetic, avoid sterling silver ring since it is too soft. Instead, use white gold (silver can actually be harder to polish as well, which adds to the labour cost). While in style right now, rose gold is not entirely complementary to opal in terms of tone; in fact, we find that it clashes. Thoughts on this one are purely subjective. Furthermore, protecting settings for opal are far too difficult to perform reliably in platinum.
Can You Wear Opal&Diamond Ring Together?
Opal is a powerful astrological gemstone for Venus (Shukra) Planet when combined with diamond. It enhances the wearer’s social standing, physical health, and financial wealth.