Accessorising with an opal set ring provides the wearer with a distinctive and matchless look.
Precious opals display a unique optical effect called ‘play of colour' or ‘fire'. This is due to its composition of stacked silica spheres, and it is the diffraction and interference of light between these spheres that create the fascinating shifting colour play. The colours produced depend on the size of these spheres and the whole spectrum of colours can be seen in the most desirable opals. The play of colour shimmers with iridescence across the stone and is distinctive of these beautiful gems.
Opals occur in a range of body colours from white, black or grey, bright orangey red and a pale watery colour. The most exquisite opals display strong colour contrast and often have a dark body colour with a vivid bright play of colour. They are usually cut ‘en cabochon' which displays their phenomenal optical effect beautifully.
From Roman times through to recent times, white opals were mined in Czechoslovakia, prior to the discovery of the world's main source for opals, Australia. Australia is famous for its opal production of the most vivid colours. 1903 was an important year in the history of opals- precious black opal was discovered at Lightning Ridge in North-East New South Wales, this area is now one of the most important areas for opals in the world.
Opal set rings were particularly favoured during the Victorian, Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods.