Saturday, October 1, 2011

Opal: October's Birthstone

Opal ... that beautiful, fiery stone that has both intrigued and mystified women for centuries. While many cultures have considered opals a gift from heaven and an omen of good luck, its negative reference in a Sir Walter Scott novel (Anne of Geierstein) in 1929 caused a precipitous drop in opal sales and brought about the fear of bad luck and death from the stone. Queen Victoria did not buy into the superstition, wearing and collecting opals throughout her reign.
Queen Victoria with Opal Bracelet • Photo courtesy of
In 1954 the Australian Government presented Queen Elizabeth II with one of the world's most famous opals - the Andamooka Opal (or Queen's Opal). This 203 carat opal is set into a wonderful necklet made of palladium.
Quee Elizabeth II with the Queen's Opal • Photo courtesy of
Rene Lalique found opals to his liking for his art nouveau jewelry. Both opal's color and carvability played well with his sinuous designs. Lalique made this diadem in the shape of a mermaid from antique bronze, emeralds and sculpted opal.
Rene Lalique Mermaid Diadem c.1897
The artist who carved the opal pendant on this necklace was a master.  Circa 1920, this carved opal leaf pendant is spectacular.
Sculpted Opal Pendant Necklace (Private Collection)

Here at Vintages, we have a small collection of very nice opal jewelry, from antique Victorian bar pins to modernist rings. Here is a selection that are available online.
Opal & Gold-filled Brooches: (clockwise from top left) Revival Opal Bar Pin ($59); Victorian Opal Clover Pin ($95); Victorian Opal & Amber Crystal Bar Pin ($75)
Opal Pendants (L-R: $35 & $22)

Modernist Silver Inlaid with Opal: Earrings and Ring ($69 each)
Arts & Crafts Stickpin with Fiery Opal Cabochon ($49)
For more photos and information about opals visit King Opal, an interesting and informative site from one of the larger Australian opal suppliers.

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