Opals are unquestionably some of the most beautiful and enthralling of gemstones. Unlike many of the cardinal gemstones they are not restricted to a single colour, with most exhibiting a broad range of different colours when viewed from different angles. It is precisely this shifting nature which makes them so uniquely suited to earrings, but why do they shine as they do?
Opals are formed when water picks up silica from sandstone deposits below the ground and becomes trapped in pressurised environments. As the water evaporates and the silica hardens it forms into microscopic spheres ranging from around 150 to 300 nanometres across in a close-packed lattice structure.
It is this microscopic lattice of silica spheres that refracts light passing through the opal into different wavelengths, creating an array of different colours. Precious opal of the kind found in antique jewellery often appears mostly pale blue until the piece moves, at which point radically different colours assert themselves within the stone.
These colours can be remarkably intense, with flaming oranges, an almost neon green or flares of bright pink to rival rubies. It is this astonishing variety that led ancient people to attribute the opal with a variety of magical powers, as it seems to embody the spirit of every precious stone.
Opals can be found in many pieces of jewellery, ranging from rings and pendants to bracelets and necklaces, and all of these pieces have been constructed to showcase the opal’s remarkable beauty, however it is earrings that tend to create the most dazzling effect through virtue of one simple fact – people move their heads a lot more than the rest of their bodies.
Wearing opal earrings means that every small glance, every tiny motion, even the gentle vibration of a laugh or a smile, will cause the angle to shift and the opals to unleash a different face to the observer. This effect is magnified with dangle and drop earrings, and can be further augmented with a halo of diamonds around the edge of the opal.
There are no bad ways to wear opals – they are simply beautiful enough that even when held in the palm of a hand with no metalwork present they can take the breath away – but if you are looking to show off their greatest appeal we would recommend taking a look at the fine collection of opal earrings available at Laurelle Antique Jewellery!