There’s nothing like the flash of opal, whose myriad colors are due to the gem’s stacked silica deposits, according to the GIA. Opal is actually the byproduct of rains that drench the parched earth in places like Australia’s Outback.
When the rainwater soaks into the ground, silica dissolves and forms opal after most of the water evaporates. Fine jewelers will recognize a variety of different types—including black, fire, Boulder, white, and more—all of which have become highly prized and sought-after stones in recent years. New finds in Ethiopia have drawn more attention to the gem, but by far the most important factor in opal’s current popularity is the amount of talented designers who place its playful range of color into stunning settings that let the beauty of the stone stand out.
Necklace in bronze with African opal, $298; Barse
Ring in 18k gold and silver with 9.50 cts. t.w. tanzanite, 1.65 cts. t.w. opal, and 1.42 cts. t.w. diamonds, $1,599; United Gemco
Earrings in 14k yellow gold with 16 cts. t.w. aquamarine, 13 cts. t.w. fire opal, and 9 cts. t.w. Ethiopian opal, $2,125; Zaiken
Pendant necklace in 18k gold with 7.6 cts. t.w. Peruvian opal and 1.15 cts. t.w. diamonds woven into the chain, $2,900; Amáli
Earrings in 22k gold with 18 cts. t.w. tanzanite and 9.5 cts. t.w. Ethiopian opal, $5,720; Stephanie Albertson
Firecracker ring in 18k yellow gold with 7.15 ct. t.w. marquise-shaped Australian opal with 0.28 ct. t.w. diamonds, $6,820; Suzy Landa
ZoZo bracelet in 18k gold with 7.86 cts. t.w. amethyst, 5.42 cts. t.w. opal, and 1.40 cts. t.w. aquamarine, $9,400; Mimi So
Necklace in 18k gold with 61.50 ct. t.w. Koroit (Australian) opal, 0.06 ct. t.w. tsavorite, and 0.03 ct. t.w. diamonds, $12,000; Patrick Mohs
Earrings inspired by Botswana’s Okavango Delta from the Africa collection in 18k blackened gold with 1.7 cts. t.w. diamonds, opal, green tourmaline, and zircon, $12,150; Colette
Earrings in 18k rose and white gold with 27.20 cts. t.w. Australian boulder opals, 16.32 cts. t.w. Andean opals, 0.80 cts. t.w. brilliant-cut diamonds, $23,600; Mauro Felter
The Style 360 blog is your editorial source for the newest jewelry, trends, market analysis, trade show insights, designer profiles, and more.