Opal—and the Silly Superstition I Can’t Shake

I’ve been lying to you.

Well, sort of. For years I have been writing about my favorite opal pieces—how incredible they are and how badly I would love to have them in my own jewelry box. But all the while there has been another side to the story, an embarrassing little secret: Even if I somehow managed to procure one of these pieces, chances are, I wouldn’t wear it.

It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s just that I’m annoyingly superstitious. I use the word annoyingly because I don’t worry about black cats, stepping on cracks, or walking under ladders—of course not. My superstition has to hit me where it hurts: I’m a woman who loves jewelry and is afraid to wear opals.

You know the old wives’ tale, the one that says not to wear opal unless it’s your birthstone? Where did that even come from? Though unfounded, the idea can be traced back to a Gothic novel from 1829 by Sir Walter Scott—at least, that is according to what mineralogist George Kunz believes to be the source of all this evil (you can read more about that from the International Gem Society here).

All I know is, I have this awesome pair of tiny opal stud earrings from Wwake that have been worn only a handful of times and they deserve so much more.

Omi Prive opal cocktail ring
Ring in 18k yellow gold with 8.25 ct. opal, 0.24 ct. t.w. sapphires, 0.1 ct. t.w. yellow sapphires, 0.16 ct. t.w. tsavorite, 0.22 ct. t.w. spinel, and 0.8 ct. t.w. diamonds, $39,600; Omi Privé
Daniela Villegas Achelois necklace
One-of-a-kind Achelois necklace in 18k yellow gold with 41.3 ct. opal, 0.07 ct. t.w. tsavorite, and 0.3 ct. t.w. sapphires, $16,000 (sold); Daniela Villegas

As a logical person, I should just be able to acknowledge that this is nothing more than folklore and move on, right? The closest I’ve come to that was this year at JCK Las Vegas while visiting with Julie Romanenko of Just Jules. The designer had this charm I wanted to own so badly (still do!)—opal, of course. We both agreed that the superstition was baloney, but if I must worry about it, I do have some sort of connection to October. I wasn’t born during the month, so the opal isn’t my birthstone—but I was married in October. The birth of a marriage, that’s got to count for something, right? (And, honestly, Julie’s charm collection is probably worth the risk.)

Joel Price opal ring
Ring in blackened gold with opal, sapphires, and diamonds, price on request; Joel Price Opals

My sentiments on opal ring true—it’s a stone I obsess over, truly one of my favorites. But in that way, I suppose I am solely an opal stalker: admiring from afar, like a forbidden fruit I dare not eat. The better part of me knows how ridiculous this all is—both good and bad happens in this world, and it certainly doesn’t come down to the jewelry one was wearing that day. Then again, when good things happen, they cause us to claim our good luck charms. What’s the difference, really?

Kaali Designs opal pendant
Pendant in 14k yellow gold with 4.5 ct. boulder opal and 0.05 ct. t.w. diamonds, $1,355; Kaali Designs
Jemma Wynne opal ear climbers
Ear climbers in 18k yellow gold with 11.84 cts. t.w. African opals and 0.25 ct. t.w. diamonds, $8,610; Jemma Wynne

On that note, given that it’s October, which is basically one entire month of Halloween, opal couldn’t be a more appropriate stone to mark the occasion. Aside from the Hope Diamond (and a few other infamously “cursed” stones), I can’t think of any other gem with more folklore associated with it.

M Spalten opal ring
Ring in 18k yellow gold with opal and diamonds, $4,490; M. Spalten

So, while we admire these absolutely amazing opals that will make other opal admirers positively giddy and jumping to buy, delight me with your suggestions for overcoming this silly notion, would you? For the sake of those opal earrings sitting in my jewelry box, and, hopefully, for future opals that one day I can call my own.

Top: Starburst bracelet in 22k yellow gold and sterling silver with opal and diamonds, $12,500; Arman Sarkisyan

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JCK Contributing Editor

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