Crystal Opal is a type of opal that is highly prized for its purity, beauty, and iridescence. It can be found in several countries including Australia, Ethiopia and Brazil. While it’s arguable where the best crystal opals come from, if you’re looking for a lifelong opal without any issues, we recommend purchasing a non-hydrophane opal such as Ethiopian Opals that won’t lose their color in different humidities. Although Coober Pedy in South Australia is the largest producing mining location for crystal opals, the highest valued crystal opals in the market of recent times come from Lightning Ridge. Opal Galaxy offers a wide range of gem-grade Lightning Ridge opals.
The Nature of Crystal Opals
Crystal opals are naturally transparent. You can easily see the light passing through them when holding them up against any light source such as the sun or a ceiling light. These opals have a see-through nature and do not contain any potch either inside or on the back. Therefore, it is crucial to know how to set these beautiful treasures of the Earth to enhance their natural beauty.
Examples of a crystal opal with black vs white vs no backing – the crystals colors and brightness are greatly enhanced with a black background.
How Crystal Opals should be set in Jewelry?
To showcase the best color and brightness of a crystal opal, it is important to trap the light inside it. We suggest using a black or dark background when setting the opal. Allowing the light to enter the opal only through its face or front side enhances its beauty. For this purpose, a closed-in backing such as a bezel setting with oxidized (or laser-treated) silver or gold is highly recommended. Using an open backing such as a claw-style ring or two-sided pendant is not recommended. Please refer to the example images in this blog to understand why.
Why use oxidised or lasered Gold?
Black gold is a unique type of gold that has been expertly modified to absorb light instead of reflecting it. This is accomplished through a process that involves the use of femtosecond laser treatments or oxidation, where acid is applied to the surface of yellow gold to transform its color to black. The dark hue provides an ideal backdrop for showcasing crystal colors. In most instances, jewelers only need to alter the backing and edges of the setting, rather than the entire object, by means of oxidation or laser treatment.