Black Opals: What are they?
The Allure of Black Opal: A Comprehensive Guide
Have you ever heard of black opal gemstones? While opals are well-known for their dazzling display of colors, did you know that black opal is a variety that is highly prized for its striking contrast of dark body tone and vibrant flashes of color? With its global notoriety and high price points, black opal is a gemstone that truly stands out from the rest. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the fascinating properties of black opal that make it so unique.
What is Black Opal?
Black opal is a type of opal that shares the same chemical composition and properties as all other opals. Opals are a colorful class of gemstones that can range from white to orange to black. The most valuable opals are those that exhibit an optical phenomenon known as “play of color”, which is a unique feature that only opal gemstones possess.
Black opal is particularly special because of its dark to black body tone, which ranges from dark gray to dark green to black. This dark base color allows the stone’s “fire” or “play of color” to be most vividly displayed, making it one of the most highly valued types of opal in the world.
Black Opal Origins
Almost all black opals come from Australia, particularly from the Lightning Ridge deposit. In fact, the stone is so integral to Australian culture that it was officially named New South Wales’ state gemstone in 2008. While other locations do produce black opals, Lightning Ridge is the primary global source.
Is Black Opal Rare?
While black opals are abundant in the gemstone market, high-quality black opals are rare because of the striking contrast between the dark body tone and rainbow flashes of color that shine so brilliantly across the gemstone. This rarity, coupled with its unique beauty, makes black opal one of the most highly valued gemstones in the world.
Black Opal History and Formation
Black opal began forming millions of years ago, in the Cretaceous period. During this time, the interior of the Australian island was completely submerged in seawater. Over time, the water receded and refilled, creating sandy deposits that eventually formed into black opals.
Black Opal Makeup and Beauty
Black opal isn’t just a stunning gemstone; it’s also used in the beauty and skincare industries. Makeup brands often use black opal hues and shades to create opalescent makeup for eyeshadows and shimmers. Additionally, Black Opal Beauty skincare is a popular line of cosmetics catered to women of color. Black opal flakes are also used in makeup and cosmetics to create a shimmering effect.
Black Opal Uses
Black opal is primarily used for jewelry designs, such as rings, earrings, and pendants. Black opal’s unique and vibrant patterns and colors make it a popular choice for jewelry designers. You can buy loose black opal gemstones and have them custom cut into jewelry designs or buy pre-designed black opal pendants, earrings, rings, and other jewelry items. However, it’s important to note that opal is a relatively soft gemstone and requires a protective setting, such as a bezel or prong, to ensure its longevity.
Spiritual Healing Properties
Black opals are also believed to have spiritual healing properties. They are thought to be restorative and cleansing, offering purification to the body and soul. Physically, black opal healing can help strengthen the immune system and guard the liver against disease. The stone also offers organization and order, enabling clearer thinking and communication. Metaphysically, black opal is considered a “stone of prediction” due to its prophetic and psychic properties.
Gemstone Properties Table:
Here’s a table summarizing the properties of black opal:
|Composition||Hydrated silica containing anywhere between 6-21% water.|
|Color||Dark body tone ranging from dark gray to dark green to black.|
|Play of Color||Bright blue, green, yellow, orange, and fiery red variations.|
|Origin||Mostly sourced from Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia.|
|Value||Prices vary, with the most expensive black opal fetching up to $10,000 USD per carat.|
|Caring for Black Opal||Store them in a soft jewelry box with a moist cloth or wet cotton ball enclosed. Seal the cloth or cotton ball into a plastic bag and place it into the container to protect the gems from dehydrating. Avoid exposing the gems to fluctuations in temperature and protect them from scratching or coming into contact with harder surfaces.|
In conclusion, black opal is a gemstone in a class all its own, prized for its dark body tone that illuminates its fiery display of vibrant colors. The contrast between the dark body tone and rainbow flashes is what makes black opal the most highly valued type of opal in the world, with high price points and global notoriety. Its restorative and cleansing properties make it an excellent choice for spiritual healing, and its vibrant patterns and colors make it a prime candidate for jewelry designs. If you’re in the market for a black opal gemstone, remember to consider factors like color, body tone, play of color, clarity, cut, and treatments, and to follow best practices for preserving its quality.