Opal Jewelry comes in a great variety of types and styles. What we mean by 'types' is that there are at least three kinds of opal gemstone found in the outback of Australia in three basic areas. South Australia, NSW, and Queensland. But this is not a geography lesson. The focus is on that illusive and rare gem termed 'opal' which, according to historians has the meaning of 'a change of color'
From what we can work out, the first type of opal found in this large continent was boulder opal and that was in the state of Queensland in the north eastern part of the country.
So that this article does not ramble too much we will try to focus on this particular unique opal as it applies to necklaces, and leave a discussion of white opal, crystal opal and black opal for another time.
As the name suggests, Boulder Opal is often found in very large and also quite small boulder ironstones depending on the field. As the opal miner removes these stones from the ground, he carefully chips away at the rock looking for thin veins of color dispersed in the mother ironstone.
With the help of large diamond saws, the precious opal is graduated released from the matrix and as the diamond grinders bare down on the veins of color, all sorts of amazing colors and patterns are disclosed. Often likenesses of nature seem to appear before your eyes.
Often these are described as 'picture stone' opal in that the patterns that come about as the opal veins are opened up often present themselves in interesting images. Some of which are in the likeness of recognizable objects such as clouds, trees, animals, marine creatures for example. At other times the pictures are like an abstract oil painting.
Because as much of this color has to be salvaged as is possible, Boulder opal is often cut in free form shape rather than to any specific shape such as oval, rectangle or square. This means that the necklace or ring designer is presented with something outside the jewelry 'norm' and can often come up with very unique styles, creating 'one of a kind' pieces
So the opal jewelry necklace decorating your outfit will draw attention to something not known in past history. And as your body moves, you will see the 'change of color' that opal is known for as it reflects some or all of the colors of nature's rainbow. The science behind this is remarkable. In future articles we will go into more details of how the light from the sun splits up into various colors as it hits the minute spheres on the surface of this natural phenomenon.