' Opal’s meaning, styling, and care - HAVERHILL
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Pair of Greenwich Flower earrings, each featuring five 4mm sustainably grown opals and one 2.7mm diamond in 14k yellow gold.
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Opal’s meaning, styling, and care

The Meaning of Opals

There are as many traditional meanings associated with opals as there are colors in this fiery gemstone. At different points in history, they have been considered bad luck and good luck. Sir Walter Scott’s 1829 novel "Anne of Geierstein" gave Opal a bad name by associating the stone with malevolent powers. This caused the market for Opals to drop until Queen Victoria, who loved the iridescent stone, gifted Opals to all her daughters as wedding gifts and their popularity once again flourished.

Close-up of woman's finger wearing a Greenwich Flower Opal & Diamond ring and Rosecliff Pink Sapphire Stackable ring.

The name Opal comes from the Sanskrit word, upala (उपल), which means 'jewel'. We like to think of Opals as the “Queen of Gems” following the ancient lore that Opals contain the powers of all the gemstones since their all colors are contained within this one stone. Its fiery tones spark creativity, and symbolize hope, purity and truth.

A Greenwich 2 Opal Birthstone & Diamond Ring and a single Greenwich Solitaire Opal earring, both in 14k yellow gold.

Since ancient times, humans have associated gemstones with healing properties and spiritual significance.

Opals - Gemstone Knowledge

Opals are formed when deposits of silica fill cavities in sedimentary or igneous rock. They get their “fire” from light reflecting off of tiny spheres of cristobalite within the silica gel. This color play is also known as iridescence (not to be confused with the term opalescence, which is not used with opals, oddly enough but Moonstones).

Loose 4mm briolette cut sustainably grown opals scattered across a gray background.

Pink Opals

The soft opaque shades of Pink Opal offer another beautiful opal option. Pink Opals, or common opals, are composed of predominantly dolomite, but often also contain minerals such as quartz and chalcedony. They do not display the color variations of silica formed opals, instead displaying an even, soft light pink color. These calming stones are often used in meditation and are believed to aid in emotional and spiritual healing.

Loose 6mm briolette cut, sustainably grown pink opals scattered across a white background.

Caring for your Opal Jewelry

Opal is rated 5.5 - 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, meaning it is one of the most fragile gemstones used in jewelry. In 1822 Friedrich Mohs created this scale to rate gemstones from 1 (softest) to 10 (exceptionally hard), based on their ability to withstand scratches. Opals can be scratched by gemstones which are harder on the Mohs Scale such as Rubies, Emeralds, Sapphires, and Diamonds, so store your Opal jewelry in your jewelry pouch or box to keep the gemstone from being scratched by these harder stones.

Close-up of a blonde woman's ear wearing a single Greenwich 4 Birthstone & Diamond earring featuring four 4mm opals.

Since Opal is one of the most fragile gemstones used in jewelry, it requires special care.

Styling Tips for Opal Jewelry

Depending on the season, these Greenwich 5 Opal & Diamond Earrings evoke an icy snowflake when paired with a warm sweater, or an early spring blossom when worn with a light and breezy floral dress.

Close-up of a woman's ear wearing a single Greenwich Flower Opal & Diamond earrings featuring five 4mm prong set gemstones.

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Is Opal the only birthstone for October?

October has several designated birthstones, including Pink Opal, Pink Tourmaline, and Pink Sapphire. Each gemstone has a slightly different appearance and different characteristics. You can explore all our gemstones here. Depending on the type of jewelry you are considering and how it will be used, you may want to make your choice based on the durability of the stone. For instance, if you want a ring to wear everyday, you might be better off with a Pink Tourmaline or a Pink Sapphire than an Opal.

I am buying jewelry with several Opals - will they look the same?

Each opal has its own individual character. We have a special team of gem selectors in our Design Lab whose sole job is to choose gemstones that go well together for each piece of jewelry you order. The Opals will never be a perfect match since each gemstone is unique, but they take their time in choosing stones that look beautiful together.

Should I choose white gold or yellow gold for the setting for my Opals?

Some people have a strong preference for yellow or white gold jewelry, so it is an individual choice. White gold will bring out the cool tones in the Opals - the blues, greens and white background. Yellow Gold will accentuate the warmer tones of yellow and orange. Our stone selectors will often keep this in mind as they are choosing the perfect stones to go in the setting for your jewelry.

Should I only wear Opal if it is my birthstone?

Absolutely not! People wear gemstones for many reasons, not just because they are the birthstone for the month they were born. You may choose to wear a stone because you feel a connection to the color, because the traditional meaning resonates with you, or because it reminds you of someone you love like a child, a friend or a loved one who has passed away. Jewelry is extremely personal and you should feel free to wear gemstones that speak to you.