Opal can be made into so many different items of jewelry. Sure, we all know that there are opal pendants, opal rings, opal earrings, and so on, but opals, as opposed to other stones like diamonds and rubies, etc, can be made into special kinds of jewelry.
There is an opal variety from Australia called Koroit and this is an unattractive type of stone when we compare it to an Australian Black Opal. It is mostly a reddish, dark brown lump of ironstone with slashes of opal running randomly through it. A jeweler cannot do much with that you might think, but simply drill a hole through it and attach a hefty chain or a cheap leather thread and it makes a gorgeous chunky necklace and it looks great on men as well as women.
Then there is boulder opal which often comes as a piece of opal connected naturally to a piece of ironstone or sandstone. The opal stone is undulating and may not have any of the fire associated with gem quality opal but when we look at it closely it has a pattern that might look like a seascape or a view of a mountain range or all kinds of other things. It might be the kind of thing you just like to stare at and imagine seeing all kinds of things in. Try doing that to a diamond! The beauty of a piece like this is that it is not gem quality and is very inexpensive.
I love jewelry like that because not only is it cheap to purchase but when you wear it people ask questions about it and they want to have a close-up inspection of it. It is a great conversation starter. You never get people asking you if they can have a look at your topaz ring. They never say: “Oh, where did you get that ring?” But with a $40 necklace of cheap Koroit or Boulder Opal you will get strangers asking what sort of stone it is and where did it come from.
Then there is one of my favorites Opal Inlay Jewelry. Beautiful pieces of crystal opal are set into the metal of rings, earrings and pendants. The opal is finished off flush with the surrounding metal. We often see this with boring stones such as Onyx and other lame-looking minerals with very little color. But, when you make inlay opal jewelry normally you would use high-quality opal and the results are fantastic.
You can put nearly any other gemstone next to opal it and it will enhance the piece of jewelry. Opals with diamond accents will always look stunning. Conversely, you can have a pink topaz or emerald main stone with inlay opals on each side and you have a brilliant item of jewelry then.
Opals can be inlayed, prong-set or bezel set. They can be glued in place whereas other stones will not appear attractive this way.
One comforting aspect of opal jewelry is that the stone will be mined by lonely men or husband and wife teams living in harsh conditions in outback Australia. There are no big companies involved and there is no forced labor here. It is a labor of love. Think about the cutting of rubies and other stones which is often done by children who should be at school. I am an opal cutter and although it is labor-intensive I enjoy doing it and I have never met an opal cutter who is not passionate about opals so there is a kind of love attached to these stones all the way through from the man underground in the middle of nowhere to the wife or enthusiast carefully cutting and polishing the stone.