When it comes to engagement rings, whether ready-made or custom-designed, opals are not a traditional favourite. For years, they carried a reputation for bad luck. For those with even the smallest inclination towards superstition, an opal would be considered an inauspicious start to married life. But there’s no denying that opals are beautiful things. The range of colours is appealing. And the play of light across the surface of the stone is incomparable. Opals may not have the diamond’s scintillation, but they do have a whole rainbow waiting for the right light to reveal.
But the question is, are opals a good stone for a custom engagement ring? Here’s what you need to consider.
Everything You Need to Know Before Selecting an Opal for Your Custom Engagement Ring
One of the reasons why diamonds have become the most popular stones for engagement rings is their strength. The hardest of the gemstones, they are very unlikely to be damaged in day-to-day wear. Opals do not share that quality. Although not the softest gems, opals are only rated 5.5 to 6.0 on the Mohs hardness scale (diamonds are a 10). This means that they are relatively easy to scratch, chip, or crack. So, if you select an opal for your engagement ring, you will need to take extra care.
Opals are also sensitive to atmospheric moisture changes. As the stones typically contain some moisture, if you keep them in very hot, dry conditions, the gems have a tendency to dry out. And this can lead to crazing. The formation of a network of cracks across the surface. This doesn’t usually affect the stability of your stone. But it can make it less aesthetically appealing.
Because of their availability, and because of their relative weakness, opals are comparably affordable. This means that you can select a real show-stopper of a stone, and still have money left in your budget to complete your design with smaller diamonds or other precious gems. It also means that if your opal is damaged at some point in the future, it won’t break the bank to replace it. While this is perhaps not ideal from a sentimental viewpoint, it can be reassuring if your heart is absolutely set on an opal for your centre stone. (Although do keep in mind that with the right care, your opal could last a lifetime).
If you are drawn to the aesthetic of opals, then there are no real viable alternatives that are more durable. The moonstone does possess some similar qualities, but it’s also quite delicate. And if you really love that iridescent rainbow effect, then the opal is your only choice.
How to use opals in a custom engagement ring
Opals can be used just like any other stone within your bespoke engagement ring design. You can use them as a breath-taking centrepiece. Or you can incorporate them into your design as a halo, complementing other precious stones. And the smaller they are, the less likely your opals are to be damaged.
People select opals for their engagement rings for all kinds of reasons. It’s the birthstone for October, which can add beautiful sentiment if you’re planning to marry an October baby – or if you have a child born in that month. The stone is also believed the represent faithfulness and confidence – which is a great foundation for your married life. And whether you go for colourless, red, white, blue, black, grey, yellow, green, or violet, the rainbow sparkles of the opal are simply stunning.
So, in short, you can use opals in the design of your custom engagement ring. And it will look beyond exceptional. You just need to note that opals need to be handled with care. So, take your engagement ring off in the shower (which is always good practise anyway!), or when you’re exercising, or cleaning. Be careful to store your engagement ring correctly when you’re not wearing it. Never use harsh chemicals to clean it. And be prepared for the fact that, in the future, you might have to consider replacing your opal if it gets damaged.
To find out more about designing your own custom engagement ring, get in touch with Durham Rose.