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Can I Use An Opal in My Engagement Ring?

Short answer is yes…but!  You can if you understand that opals while incredibly beautiful are a softer gemstone that are more prone to breaking and scratching.  If you are a person that is very diligent and careful, you can wear an opal in your engagement ring.  Truthfully, it is more likely you are not that type of person, or you may simply forget one time while washing dishes or playing a sport and then you look down and see your opal is missing, chipped or broken.

But I want an opal engagement ring.

If that is something you want then there are a few ways to make it happen.  First is to make sure you have an accurate description of your ring and opal in the form of an appraisal.  Then keep it specifically insured.  That way if something happens then you have your insurance to fall back on and cover the loss.  This is “just in case.”  A company that you can insure with is Jewellers Mutual.

Still want an opal, what are my options?

If this is the direction you want to go, then the first thing might be the choice of ring.  A ring with a very protected setting would help.  This might mean the opal is set low and other gemstones or gold are higher to offer a barrier from direct knocks.

Another option might be a bezel setting to prevent prongs from getting knocked and chipping the opal.

Maybe an opal type?

There are many types of opal.  The most commonly seen are the white opals.  Some opals such as those coming out of Ethiopia are more like color in Jell-O.  They are even referred to as jelly opals.  Very spectacular colors but they have had some complaints of being less stable than Australian opals.  This may still be debatable.  Our favorite has been boulder opals.  These can have intense colors and we have found them to be incredibly durable.  This is an opal that has a thinner layer of opal gemstone found on its natural rock, called ironstone.  In the years, we have used boulder opal, we have never had one break badly enough to need replacement.

White opal with flash effect.

 

Boulder opal

 

Jelly opal

Still want an opal?

Know that opal comes in almost any shape and all kinds of colors.  The opal effect can be pinpoints of color or flashes of color.  Even the background can be different, from, white, to jelly or extremely rare black.  You can also get opals in almost any size, though very large ones have become extremely rare and expensive if they are a high quality.

Prices can range from just a few dollars per carat to thousands of dollars per carat.  The black opals commanding the highest prices when they have a flash effect with a full range of color.

You can even find some very nice looking manmade or laboratory grown opals.  Some actually are quite nice and not hugely expensive.

One last point.

Opals can be treated to try to enhance the color.  Typically, this is done with a treatment called a “sugar treatment”.  This tries to mimic black opals and may even be passed off as genuine black opal by some sellers.  While this is not the place to discuss the methods of treatment, STAY AWAY from this material.  It is a poor enhancement that won’t last, often ruins the opal and is very inexpensive.