At Dianna Rae Jewelry we’re passionate about opals! Each opal is entirely unique and displays its own variety and play of color.
Opals can be cut into a vast range of shapes and sizes — you’ll never find two opals exactly alike! We hand-select each opal, working with cutters all over the world. Our jewelry designs become inspired by the opal itself, complementing and showcasing each opal’s one-of-a-kind character.
When looking for an opal, there is a large variety to consider. Opals are discovered all over the world and fall into some general categories listed below.
The most valuable variety of opal, the black opal has a dark body color which beautifully accentuates the play-of-color within the gemstone. Lightning Ridge, Australia is the main source for the widely sought after black opal. Among the rarest gemstones on earth, Lightning Ridge black opals are even rarer than diamonds! The red fire you find in some black opals is an opal miners dream. Only a small percentage of black opals have such fire-red brilliance in color and intensity. Some black opals display a harlequin pattern, a variety that is most exceptional and rare. No other precious stone can match the brilliance of the colors, fire, and pattern of Australian black opals.
Light opal makes up the majority of opal found in the world today, most of which is mined in Australia. Natural opals that are translucent to semi-translucent with a body color ranging from colorless to medium-gray, are referred to as light opals. Some might call them white opals, although this is only appropriate when the body color is characterized by a “milky” white appearance.
Light opals are known for their exceptional display of flashing colors. This play-of-color found in opals varies in intensity and color but usually occur in a myriad of colors all at once.
The very attractive Ethiopian opal quickly gained popularity due to its fantastic play of color and affordable price when compared to a similar-quality Australian opal. Discovered in the early 1990s, this exciting variety of opal was found in Mezezo Ethiopia, Africa and occurs in a wide selection of body color and patterns. Although some opals found in this area are known to craze over time, miners have discovered the regions that produce more stable material for the jewelry market.
Most of the opals mined in Ethiopia are Hydrophane opals, a name used for a porous opal that has the ability to absorb water. The water absorption can create color-changes in the opal, sometimes turning white with water gain and returning to its original color as it drys out. This hydrophane property makes the Ethiopian opal a reasonably priced option when compared to an Australian material of similar appearance.
Boulder opals are easily distinguished by their variety of organic and freeform shapes. As its name suggests, boulder opal naturally forms on top of layers of solid brown ironstone boulders. Generally, only very thin veins of precious opal are present in voids and cracks of the boulder opal, but they can display a vibrancy of color due to their dark body tone.
Boulder opals are commonly found in distinct locations over a wide area of Western Queensland. The popularity of boulder opal has increased since the mid-1970s and can now be very valuable. The beauty of its often odd shapes inspires captivating and creative design.
Ninety percent of the world’s opals are mined in Australia. The Brazilian opal, also called Brazilian crystal opal; however, is mined in one particular location in Brazil. These opals range in body color from white semi-translucent to translucent and can manifest impressive veins of color. They contain less water content than most other opals, making them more stable and durable. This durability allows for Brazilian opals to be faceted like you would cut a diamond, creating even more variation and change of color in the gemstone.
An opal doublet is created by adhering a thin layer of precious light opal onto a black backing, designed to imitate the look of a solid black opal. The dark backing causes the opal color to become more vibrant and rich. Opal doublets allow you to enjoy the play of color in a solid opal at a fraction of the cost.
At Dianna Rae Jewelry, we developed a specialty cut diamond top for the opal and backing, creating what we call the ‘Opalized Diamond’ (link to product page). The Opalized Diamond was made fusing a rose-cut diamond on top of an opal — combining the durability of a diamond with the multi-color fire of an opal!