Discover the Stylish, Colorful World of Opal Jewelry

Woman Wearing Opal Gemstone Earrings

Jewelry is more than just an accessory—it's a way to express yourself. Between making daring fashion choices to selecting rare gemstones that bring out the color in your eyes, every bracelet, ring, and necklace is a way to show off your style and self. If you have a shining personality, you deserve jewelry to match that—so why not wear opals?

Opals are one of the world's most exquisite and colorful precious gemstones. With their shining rainbow appearance, they give off a sophisticated, almost magical glow—so there's no wonder why people worldwide wear opal jewelry. Whether looking for the best methods to care for heirloom opal pieces or finding inspiration to style a new pair of opal earrings, learn all there is to know about timeless opal jewelry in our all-encompassing guide. 

How Are Opals Formed?

White Gold Opal and Diamond Halo Pendant

Opal stones are naturally formed from a combination of silicone dioxide and water. When water runs through the earth, it picks up silica from sandstone and deposits it into cracks and voids within rocks. When that silica-rich water evaporates, it leaves behind a deposit. After a few rounds of this process, the beautiful opal stone is formed! 

Where Are Opals Found?

Organic opal stones are found in sedimentary or volcanic environments worldwide. Australia produces 95% of the world's opals in towns like Lightning Ridge, claiming it as their official national gemstone. But these precious gems can also be mined in other countries, such as Ethiopia, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States. 

What Causes the Color Differences in Opals?

The color of an opal stone is so adored that there's a word for it—opalescence. But how is that scintillating, iridescent rainbow naturally formed?

Think of the opal stone as a prism. The background color, known as the body color, is created through a suspension of impurities within the silica sphere. When light waves are reflected within the stone, they bounce off, leaving a bright assortment of colorful reflections. This is the case for all types of opals, and with different body colors and amounts of light waves, there are endless, unique ways that an opal stone gives off classic opalescence.  

Symbolism of the Opal Stone 

Seam of Opal in a Rock

Due to their glimmering color and astounding beauty, opals have often been referred to as the "Queen of Gems,” and with that title comes countless different meanings. Different cultures around the world have different beliefs, from the Ancient Greeks thinking wearing opals gave the gift of prophecy to the Arabic legends claiming they fell to the earth during lightning storms. But most attribute opal stones to bringing purity, truth, hope, good fortune, and confidence to the wearer.

If you know someone born in October, they're lucky enough to have the opal as a birthstone! Wearing your birthstone is a lovely way to feel connected to yourself and bring good luck into your life. Whether you love an elegant pair of opal earrings or layering necklaces, opal jewelry can add significant meaning and style to your look.  

5 Different Types of Opal Stones

There are two main categories of opal: precious and common. The color differences are separated by brilliant hues in precious opal stones and more light-colored in common, but both are used when designing opal jewelry.

5 of the main types used in jewelry are:

  • Black opal: a rare opal stone with a dark, black background color.
  • White opal: a more common opal with a light, milky hue as the background.
  • Fire opal: an opal featuring warm body colors, such as yellow, orange, or red, with little variation.
  • Hyalite: a colorless opal, often giving the appearance of glass.
  • Synthetic opal: created in labs for jewelry making, synthetic opals are white with rainbow accents but are not fluorescent under UV light.

Why Do Jewelers Like to Work With Opals?

14K White Gold Oval Opal and Diamond Cluster Accent Ring

With a different array of vibrant rainbow colors in each cut, opal stones are unique—which means every jewelry piece will be, too. Many designers feel inspired by the iridescent nature of opals and enjoy creating one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces for their collections.

Fine jewelry designers, including our in-house label, The Sabel Collection, work with these precious gemstones to create unforgettable, sophisticated pieces that anyone can wear. Whether you’re looking for a more casual opal jewelry set or a glittering special occasion necklace, you can find opal jewelry in any style.

Opals are also a notoriously impressive gemstone to work with, and only jewelers with a certain level of skill can create opal jewelry. The soft surface is prone to scratching and chipping, and any designer handling an opal stone needs to have a gentle touch and attention to detail. Often, luxury opal bracelets, rings, and necklaces will be designed with an extra protective setting of harder gemstones or metals to keep the stone safe during wear.

Types of Opal Jewelry

We have four main styles of opal jewelry available. Explore stylish designs and find your next favorite accessory:

  • Opal earrings
  • Opal rings
  • Opal bracelets
  • Opal necklaces

How Are Opals Judged for Jewelry?

Yellow Gold Cushion Fire Opal and Diamond Halo Ring

The quality of an opal is judged using three main aspects: color, pattern, and clarity. When choosing a cut for opal jewelry, jewelers place the gemstone under controlled lighting with a dark background to help them evaluate the opal. The shape, range of colors, and level of transparency in a cut of opal stone can all affect both the value and the way a jeweler will style it.  

Using Synthetic Opals in Jewelry

Creating lab-formed gemstones is a sustainable way for companies to create elegant jewelry without mining in the earth—and it's a very similar process to how natural opal stones are formed. A high-water silica solution is poured into a container to form a gel. Then, color pigments and metal salts are added to hand-curate the colors and light waves opals are known for. The gel is then aged and left to solidify and dry out. Once cut and polished, it looks similar to the colorful brilliance of naturally formed opals, making them a popular choice for many jewelry designers and wearers.

Who Wears Opal Jewelry?

While people once believed opal stones were fit only for royalty, anyone can style opal jewelry nowadays! Whether you don a complete set of opal necklaces and matching rings or reserve one opal bracelet for special events, opal jewelry can be worn by anyone on any occasion. Elizabeth Taylor was famously known for opal pieces in her jewelry collection—and who wouldn’t want to take a piece of style advice from her? 

5 Ways to Style Opal Jewelry

White Gold Opal and Diamond Halo Pendant

Whether you wear a staple piece every day or a matching set on special occasions, there are endless ways to style opal jewelry. Complement your outfits, lifestyle, and coloring with unique, shining opal stones using these five tips: 

1. Choose Everyday Staple Opal Jewelry

If you're an avid lover of the opal stone, why not choose a piece as your everyday staple jewelry? Between dainty opal earrings or thin-chained opal necklaces, this glimmering gemstone gives you a subdued but graceful look. Choose an opal piece to bring your outfit together every morning so you can rock your day with confidence and style.  

Pro tip: make sure to find an opal that complements your skin tone and coloring. Rich and deep black or fire opal stones stand out if you're on the fairer side. If you have a darker skin tone, something like a white or crystal opal is a stunning option. Certain opal stones can bring out the colorful accents in your eyes, so try a few on and see which ones make you pop! 

2. Wear Casual, Simple Opal Jewelry at the Office

Rose Gold Opal and Diamond Earrings

Opals are the perfect blend of elegant and casual, making them a perfect option for work attire. Pull out your favorite rose gold opal earrings to pair with a button-down or cashmere sweater and instantly elevate your look. You’ll bring your personal style to the office and walk into your business meeting confidently in your favorite opal bracelet.

3. Layer Opal Jewelry

Include your favorite opal necklace in a layered stack with your other go-to chains as a sparkly accent. Start by clasping on the shortest chain and then add each layer to create a complex and stylish look. To bring attention to a white gold opal necklace, ensure it's in the center of the layers. The layered necklace look is on trend, and whether you're dressing for a girl's night out or an elegant gala, opal stones are a way to make it your own.  

4. Make a Statement with Opal Jewelry

Statement jewelry tends to be oversized and colorful, so the opal stone is the perfect choice! Find over-the-top opal necklaces or long, dangle opal earrings and pair them with a subdued, classic look for the perfect pop. Often, people will wear a large, colorful opal ring to draw attention to their hands with that rainbow shine. The options for statement opals are endless, so find one that works with your wardrobe.  

5. Wear Opal Jewelry for Formal Occasions

14K Rose Gold Cushion Opal with Diamond Halo Pendant Necklace

Formal gatherings, such as weddings, black-tie galas, and intimate date nights, are the perfect time to showcase your favorite opal stone pieces. A diamond and opal necklace is a stunning way to accessorize if you're wearing an elegant dress. You can wear a matching set with opal earrings, rings, and bracelets to tie the look together. 

Do Opals Make Good Engagement Rings?

While diamonds are the traditional gemstone choice for engagement rings, some people prefer modern gemstone engagement rings. With the ethereal and iridescent coloring on an opal, visually, they make a stunning ring for her left hand. But, since opals are soft and delicate, only ranking in at 5 to 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, they may require more upkeep and care. Don't let that scare you—when you keep an eye on your ring and refrain from exposing it to any risky elements, you can enjoy an opal ring on your wedding finger for a lifetime.

Popular Opal Rings

White Gold Opal and Diamond Halo Ring

Explore some of our favorite opal rings to see if they're the perfect fit for your proposal or when choosing a companion when shopping for a women's wedding band:

How to Clean and Store Opal Jewelry

If you want your opal stones to last you a lifetime, learning the best practices for keeping them clean is important. Every month, you should wet a soft cloth with warm water to gently rub away any dirt and oil that may have built up on the stone. Then, polish it with a different soft cloth or toothbrush to shine the finish. Let it dry in a safe place, and then you can wear it once more. 

Refrain from wearing your jewelry while sleeping, and always put it in a jewelry box or holder to avoid any potential damage to the opal stone. If you want to store opal jewelry long term, each piece must be wrapped in a slightly moistened, protective soft cloth before being tucked away. Because of the high water content of the stone, it needs moisture while in storage to keep its color and shine. If there are ever any issues, find quality jewelry repair stores near you to see what can be fixed!

Gifting Opal Jewelry

Yellow Gold Oval Opal and Diamond Halo Earrings

If you're considering buying someone jewelry as a gift, look at elegant and striking opal designs. Not only is opal a traditional 14th wedding anniversary gift, but the stone has also been known to be associated with passion and love, making it a beautiful gift for any loved one. Find a stunning push present for a new mom, a beautiful opal ring to pair with women’s wedding bands or a stylish bracelet as a treat for yourself. Consider their style and preferred type of jewelry and find a piece they'll wear for years to come. 

Glittering, vibrant, and otherworldly, opals have been a popular jewelry gemstone for centuries. Whether you're searching for a necklace that will never go out of style or modern statement earrings to show off your personality, there's a design for you. Find the perfect fit and enjoy timeless and stylish opal jewelry of your very own.