Opals are a pretty big deal in my store. They are one of my favorites; in fact, they are my favorite. Boulder opal especially appeals to me because of its inherent variety. They’re unique and different, like the things I design. No two can ever be just alike, and each one marches to the beat of its own drum. Wild colors chase each other along thing veins in a chestnut brown matrix. A node of translucent color dances around in sharp contrast to its chocolaty surroundings. A veneer of pinfire glitters like multicolored stars in a twilit sky. Boulder opals capture the vast and varied nature of opal simply by forming in the only way they could.
But boulder opals are not the only opals, and they may not be the opal for you.
Maybe your style is more subdued. You appreciate the finer things in life, but the last thing you want is to be the center of attention for it. White opals often get overlooked for their more ostentatious cousins. Some people have described them as bland and lifeless, but they just haven’t looked at them from more than one angle. Not flashy, but far from boring, the iridescence of white opals must be moved to be properly appreciated. Individual blocks or broad brush strokes of color can shift from purple to yellow to red as the stone is rotated.
Or perhaps you have a taste for the extravagant and the premier. You thrive in the spotlight. The best of the best is where it’s at to you. Imagine sheets of wildfire raging across a smoky background. Tilt the scene up or down, and the fire morphs into the neon yellow and electric green of your favorite downtown strip. Or what about verdant green and ocean blue that stand out like the earth against the backdrop of space? That would be black opal: the top tier and rarest of all.
But those aren’t even the half of it. There are shell opals, which filled vacated mollusk shells, and take on the soft contours of such an environment in their shape. There are crystal opals, some of which are so translucent you can read text through the shifting clouds of color. There are harlequin opals, which show repeating square blocks of colors in an almost repeatable pattern.
There is common opal, which, although it shows no play of color, is semi- transparent. Common opal comes in all kinds of colors with the sleepy, hazy glow of opalescence that’s mysterious and captivating.
One variety of common opal is fire opal, which is cherry red, flame orange, or lemon yellow. Fire opal occasionally shows unexpected sparks of green. Another is Girasol opal, which seems to radiate a golden, shifting glow from within.
Opals can be used to dramatic effect in carving material, as well. Imagine an iridescent flower with delicately formed petals all from a single piece of opal. Or imagine a block of brown ironstone with a single nodule of common white opal; now see a bear carved into the ironstone, fishing out a salmon carved from the opal nodule.
Opals are like people; there are more varieties and types and characteristics than can be listed in reasonable space. Picking one out that’s just like you may take some time, but there’s definitely one out there. Don’t give up until you’ve come to see what I have access to.