Vaughan's Jewelers
Shoppes at Brentwood
2801-3E Ward Blvd
Wilson, NC 27893
252-243-5707
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Summer Store Hours
Monday - Friday: 10 am to 6 pm
Saturday: 10 am to 4 pm
Sunday: Closed

October Birthstone – Opal

Wilson_Opal_JewelryThe name “opal” originates from an Indian word for “stone.”  They are divided into three basic groups with physical properties that vary considerably.

Precious opal – The special characteristic of these gemstones is their opalescence, more appropriately referred to as “play-of-color”.

The opal is cut and polished on the top and the matrix stone is left as a backing that adds strength and a dark background.

Opal always contains water in varying amounts, but it can be as much as 30%.  If not handled properly, opals could loose water over time resulting in crazing, or cracking.  White opals are the most common types found in jewelry and the value of an opal gemstone will be determined more by its play-of-color than by size.

The more predominant types of opals within this group are:

  • white opals that are translucent to semitransparent with play-of-color against a white body color
  • black opals that are translucent to opaque with play-of-color against a black or other dark body color
  • jelly opals that are colorless, transparent to semitransparent with little or no play-of-color
  • boulder opals which are opaque and made up of a thin layer of opal occurring in ironstone matrix.

Fire opal – These opals are some of the most intriguing because they do not look like what most consumers would identify as an opal. They are transparent to semitransparent with or without play-of-color on a yellow, red or orange body color. The most significant deposits of fire opal are in Mexico and, for that reason, these beautiful gemstones are frequently called “Mexican Opals”.

Common opal – These opals are very common, as the name implies, and are mostly opaque without play-of-color.

Opals, an additional birthstone for the month of October, are relatively soft gems and do not respond well to heat or sudden changes in temperature.  Opals are esteemed by many for their phenomenal play-of-color, and while they do produce beautiful pieces of jewelry to be worn and appreciated, the utmost care must be taken to protect these gems from damage.

Because of their moisture content, they need special care, even when they are not being worn. When buying opal jewelry, it is important to talk about their proper care with a gemologist, like the knowledgeable staff at Vaughan’s Jewelers, to ensure that their beauty will be retained and cherished from generation to generation.