Opal Ring: How to Choose the Best Opal Ring

Just like any great accessory, making sure you choose the best opal ring has a process. You want to make sure you’re getting what you pay for, no matter if the stone is man-made or dug from the mining fields of Australia. However you go about it, we want to make that process easier.

There are a lot of different styles of opal, some run into thousands of dollars, while other “created versions” can cost a whopping $12 — it’s a personal preference. Below are some steps to follow when finding the right piece, as well as some attractive options to add to your gemstone ring collection.

Best Types of Opals for Rings

Before you get into the design, let’s look at the best opals for rings. The type you choose for your ring can potentially affect how you set it. These gems can be delicate and softer than other stones. Therefore, it is better to understand which one works best for your hands.

Ask yourself: how often will I wear the ring? What are my hands doing — are you a secretary or a welder? Answering life questions will help guide you to what’s best. It is important to understand that opals are delicate gems and need special care, so choosing the right one to fit your lifestyle is just as important.

Black Opal Rings

These are the most expensive opals, with 95% coming from Lightning Ridge, Australia. The rarity and dark potch — body tone — of this gem are what makes it so beautiful. Fire red is the most expensive, and those with blue hues cost less — they aren’t as rare as the red. Furthermore, these typically come with cabochon or domed style that gives them their stunning play of color, dancing and sparkling from all angles.

Additionally, black refers to the stone’s potch, not the color. Potch refers to the base color or body tone of the jewel, darker giving the play of color its richness. The most expensive black opals have a fiery zeal. Furthermore, a genuine black opal has a body tone of N1 to N4, and even a novice should be able to tell the difference.

Boulder Opal Rings

These are formed in the rows of ironstone lining Australia’s Queensland mining fields, where they are unearthed. Unlike black opal, cabochon in these is rare, meaning boulders are flatter.

There are quite a few different kinds of the best boulder opals. It depends on what was locked in with the ironstone during formation, which takes millions of years, like a diamond. This comparison helps understand the cost — the best opals aren’t cheap.

Different types of boulder opal are:

  • Matrix 
  • Fairy 
  • Yowah Nuts
  • Koroit 
  • Tintenbar 
  • Mintabie 

Fire Opal Rings

Most of these are found in Queretaro, Mexico. They come from volcanic rock and can form in many host stones. What gives these their fiery play of color is the iron oxide trapped in the silica base. Whether the potch is black or not, the fire inside is what makes it so popular.

However, some fire opals are mined in Australia and commonly come with the coveted black potch. They are rare and valuable, making them perfect for an opal engagement ring.

Ethiopian Opal Rings

Africa has its unique share of this gem, which is found throughout the country. However, Ethiopian types have a smoky potch that can sometimes add a richness to the play of color like its Australian cousin.

The color layering and body tone of this jewel display a 3D effect. Moreover, that, and the lower cost, makes it popular among jewelers and collectors.

Inlay Opal Ring

Inlays are unique and usually run a bit cheaper. Inlays are small slivers of crystal opal set to the shape of a base. This base is generally black and bezeled, which gives the fragments a better play of color. These are a good budget option; however, they can still carry value depending on how precious the opal is.

Best Ring Design for Opals

Which design you choose to set your ring depends on the stone shape, softness, and personal preference. There are two basic designs that jewelers use to keep your jewel in place. They are also the best options for security and care, so you don’t damage or lose the stone.

However, Unless you are buying a raw stone, most of the best opal rings come in beautiful, already set designs.

Bezel Set

This is the favorite among jewelers due to its security. The metal is formed around the crystal and held in place. Due to its full-coverage security, the metal can also help enhance the color of the stone. The bezel is the best design for active people and daily wear.

Claw Set

Although claw set opal rings are a glamorous option, these should be worn with caution. This set is not made for daily wear by those who are highly active or work with their hands. These are showcase pieces that are typically worn for special occasions where there is a lesser chance of the ring hitting or getting caught.

How Can I Tell if an Opal Ring is Fake?

There are a couple of different styles of synthetic and partially synthetic opals. These make a beautiful and affordable option when looking for an opal ring. However, educating yourself so you are not overcharged is the purpose of this section.

Some opals are designed in a lab, and others are layered. Layered gems are called doublet or triplet. Below are a few ways to tell if this is what you are dealing with. 

But first, let us familiarize you with these types of stones.

Doublet

Doublets have a thin natural stone with a backing attached. These backings share the same effect as a host stone, enhancing the potch. This backing can be ironstone, plastic, glass, and even a black stone, giving the effect of black opal.

Triplet

Triplet comes in three layers with a backing similar to the doublet and a top covering of quartz. These are typically thinner opals and are fragile; therefore, the quartz is placed on top to protect the gem.

Synthetic Opals

These are also known as Gibson and are created in a lab. Most trusted jewelers will have “created” placed in the name. Furthermore, unless you are looking for a specific type of stone, these are a fantastic budget option. Some Gibsons are spectacular and have a very prismatic, brilliant, and even layering. However, this is one way you can tell they are man-made.

How to Check if Your Opal is Real

Here are a few things to look at when figuring out if your gem is layered or man-made.

Gibsons are harder to identify because they are, in essence, real stones. However, when determining whether it is a Gibson or a mined stone, looking at the color pattern. Is it nicely uniformed? Does it look like snakeskin?

If you answered yes to these, then you probably have a man-made stone. Patterning in real gems is sporadic and uniformed, which gives them their wonderful color play.

If you suspect you are carrying a triplet or doublet, you can use this checklist to help verify. However, the best way is to find a trusted gem dealer or jeweler.

Lifting

This usually happens after time. If a ring is worn in high humidity, a lot of sweat, or if you wear it while submerging your hands in water for any amount of time, you may experience lifting. Lifting occurs when the glue that holds the layers together is compromised, causing the stone to be dull or turn milky and potentially coming apart.

Body Tone

Most real opals carry a white or transparent color to the potch. When getting into the darker potch, you should be more skeptical. Usually price will help. For example, if it’s a beautiful black opal with a beautiful play of color, but it only costs $15, you can assume it’s a fake.

Side and Top View

If you can view the opal from the side, which can be difficult in a bezel setting, you can see the distinct layering of the doublet or triplet. When looking through the side, if you notice the top is clear, you probably have a triplet.

Furthermore, when viewing the top, the colors will reflect differently; they will seem more distant and glassy. This is due to the clear plastic— cheaper versions— or quartz covering the thin slice of opal below.

Back

The back of any opal is a sure sign whether you have a doublet. Sometimes it can be hard to tell because some gems are set in stone — boulder, fire, and matrix opal are good examples of this. However, if you see any line or glue or if the joint is perfectly flat, it’s probably not 100-percent.

5 Opal Rings You Should Own

Listed below are five rings we felt deserved some attention. The prices vary, but the beauty resonates equally with each one.

Black Opal Ring

This ring is a perfect example of the best black opal rings available on the market. Opals Down Under handcrafts each ring and are an authority in all things opal. However, this ring has a stunning deep potch, which allows you to explore the beautiful play of color these jewels can offer.

The other side is sporting 43 diamonds, giving it an effortless beauty you’ll want to wear all the time — a ring like this deserves to be shown off. It is also a perfect example of how valuable these types of gems are.

Boulder Opal Ring

This sterling silver, genuine Australian boulder opal ring is a “look at me” piece in a bevel setting. It is also a unisex piece that runs 33×13 mm with a 7mm wide band. This company offers custom-made rings as well if you’re looking for a unique design for you or a loved one.

Boulder opal rings are less expensive than their black potch cousins, but more available and come in many colors. It is also “raw and uncut,” giving you a more earthy vibe.

Fire Opal Ring

Fire opals aren’t always red; most are blue and green hues, it’s the prism and reflection that gives them their “fiery” name. This natural blue gem is set in 18K gold and is proof even the blues are worth the view.

It comes with a gift box for those wanting to purchase for a friend or lover. Moreover, you can sort through to see more of the colors they offer.

Ethiopian Opal Ring

This ring is a spinner and has three bands. It has a vintage feel to it and comes with a hand-mounted gem set into sterling silver. Each ring varies slightly and can be customized to fit a man or woman.

You can get multiple stone settings and ask to have it made to fit your style. However, what caught our eye was the boho-chic feel that highlights the jewel’s depth and clarity. The play of color in the stone and the ring make it stand out, and so does its price — it’s affordable.

Inlay Opal Ring

Each inlay is mounted by hand in tungsten carbide. Tungsten is a hard steel that you can be sure will last. Furthermore, if you aren’t happy, the seller has a 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

Each ring is made to order, meaning each one is for the individual, and you won’t find another like the one you have. These make great Father’s Day or anniversary gifts for him or her.

Final Thoughts

There are so many opals, it’s hard to say what the best opal ring would look like. However, we hope this line up with all the info above gives you an excellent place to start when trying to fulfill the need to own or share one of these rare jewels. We always suggest purchasing from a trusted dealer who will refund your money if you aren’t satisfied.

Additionally, when buying on the internet, it is always best to contact the dealer and read reviews of the seller. There are many fake gems on the market, so be cautious about who you deal with. However, even the cheapest triplet is a statement piece if you do find the right artist.

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