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Choosing the right opal for your ring design

In this blog we will look at the different types of ring designs that suit opals best. We can recommend the right opal for your ring design based on which setting and type of metal you intend to use.

Claw Setting Rings

Claw style setting opal rings exposure the side edges of the opal when set. The back is usually also visible when looking thru the back of the ring. A higher dome opal is usually recommended for claw settings to be able to have enough height to allow a claw prong setting to secure the opal tightly in place. Without this the opal may be covered too much by the claw as they usually need at least 3mm length covering the opal to securely fasten it in place without movement. Higher, domed cabochons are more suited to nobby opals due to the roundness style in which they were formed. Seam opals can also be used, however they are often usually cut with a flatter top so you will have a lot more claw overtop the face of the opal than you would with a nobby opal in most instances. 

A seam opal cut in a domed cabochon may be suitable for a claw setting. Black and dark opals with higher domes are often a popular choice in claw setting designs. Crystal opals are not often used as with a claw style setting there is no closed in backing or sides, so the light can pass thru the crystal opal easily and lose a lot of its pattern and colors. Oval and teardrop shape opals lend themselves best to claw setting designs. You can also use some boulder opals in claw setting designs as long as the shape in which it is cut is well suited to the ring.

A claw set high domed nobby black opal engagement ring
A claw set high domed nobby black opal engagement ring
A bezel set black opal teardrop ring
A bezel set black opal teardrop ring

Bezel Setting Rings

Whilst you can use nobby opal in bezel settings, a flatter faced type of opal suits the bezel best so that there are not over exposed domed areas protruding from the ring that may attract knocks or bumps. Flatter topped opals are often associated with seam opal. These are best suited for bezel style rings. Because of the closed in backing on most bezel setting rings, you can get away with using crystal opals which offer a cheaper price point than black and dark opals. The bezel setting traps the light in to ensure the crystal opal is always looking at its best. People also often use opal doublets and triplets in bezel setting rings, however we do not sell these types of man made opals. Most shapes of opals can be used in bezel setting rings; them being ovals, teardrops, hearts and freeform shapes. You can also use boulder opals in bezel setting designs as long as the shape permits.

Freeform Rings

It is possible to set a freeform opal into both a claw design and a bezel design ring setting. Some freeform opals lend themselves to ring designs better than others.

Halo Rings

Diamond halo rings are a popular choice when designing an opal ring for engagement or promise rings. They have claw style settings, so a nobby opal is an ideal choice to use in this type of ring design.

Mens Rings

Men often wear opals as every day rings, and sometimes as an opal wedding band ring. It is very uncommon to see a mens ring with a claw style design. Mens opal rings are often flat top opals with a bezel setting to protect the opal as best possible.

A mens bezel set opal wedding band with small accenting colored gemstones
A mens bezel set opal wedding band with small accenting colored gemstones

Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings

Is opal a good stone for an engagement ring? Absolutely! As long as you are not wearing the ring during manual labouring or physical activities that may attract knocks that can damage your opal, an opal is an excellent choice for an engagement ring that can really showcase a persons unique character through they choice of unique opal. Engagement rings are often made with claw style settings and accompanied by some smaller diamonds in their design. Whilst any style of opal can be used, often black opals are the desired choice for high end engagement rings.

Opal Promise Rings

A promise ring is loose fitting alternative name for an engagement ring without the officiality. Promise rings are often given between partners to express commitment to each other. They are usually a very simple looking ring and not too large. An opal promise ring may be a smaller domed cabochon black opal in a simple prong design with an accenting diamond. For a man, an opal may be set in bezel with some accenting gemstones on either end.

Color Choices to match different Metal types

There are three main choices when it comes to the color of metal types in ring designs. They are:

  • Sterling Silver Opal Rings, White Gold Opal Rings and Platinum Opal Rings all being of silver/white appearance
  • Yellow Gold Rings being of yellow appearance
  • Rose Gold Rings being of pinkish appearance.

Your choice of metal really comes down to three determining factors; your personal preference towards a type of metal, your budget for the design and finally how the color of the opal suits the metals color. It is important to discuss these designs with your jeweller. Digitall designing the ring first will assist you in choosing the best metal for your ring. Holding the opal up to different metal colors will also assist you in making a better design.

Accenting Diamonds in Opal Rings

A popular setting with opal rings is to accompany them with accenting diamonds. Diamonds are a great way to increase visual appeal to opals in ring settings without taking away anything from the beauty of the opal due the diamonds colorless nature. We recommend digitally designing your opal ring first in order to make the right decision in choice of type, shape and size with accenting diamonds or other colored gemstones.

Choosing an Opal for a Ring with investment in mind

The value of opals, especially rarer types of opals such as black opals and high end boulder opals has seen continued rise in value since they began discoveries of them. The rarity of opals has become significantly more over time, as well as the demand increasing. Good quality Black opals ringstones are a great choice for investment. And yes it is possible to wear them while they appreciate as long as you are careful not to knock them during wearing that may cause them to break.

Which finger should you wear your opal ring on?

Of course engagement rings and wedding bands are usually worn on the second last finger next to your pinky finger, or more commonly known as your ring finger. Rings can be worn on any finger however it is up to the wearer and where they feel most comfortable wearing the ring.

A freeform black opal set in bezel ring worn on the ring finger
A freeform black opal set in bezel ring worn on the ring finger
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