An Enchanting Ring for Your Most Magical Day
An enduring symbol of love and commitment, the engagement ring is a salient representation of a marriage proposal. And it’s also the opportunity to make a dazzling proclamation in gemstones.
Engagement rings can be traced back to Ancient Rome when it was thought that the left-hand ring finger contained a direct route to the heart. More than the sum of its parts, an engagement ring today should reflect its wearer and have the strong, abiding qualities to stand the test of time (and fashion trends).
While most couples choose traditional diamonds in the starring role for their engagement rings, more and more people are turning to ever more colorful — and more affordable — gemstones, such as opal. Opal is known for its brilliance, stability, and variety, with devotees from every corner of the world.
But it also comes with a reputation for fragility, cultural ideation associating it with luck (both good and bad), and some challenges in jewelry settings. Still, with some research and forethought, you can find the perfect, eternal opal engagement ring for you and your special day.
The Story of Opal
“It is made up of the glories of the most precious stones. To describe it is a matter of inexpressible difficulty: there is in it the gentler fire of ruby, the brilliant purple of amethyst, the sea-green of the emerald, all shining together in an incredible union.”
— Ancient Roman philosopher, Pliny
Valued for their stability and brilliance, opals can be found in Africa and North, Central, and South Americas, but the vast majority of opal is located in Australia. Australia supplies 95% of the world’s precious opal, including black opal, white opal, crystal opal, fire opal, and boulder opal.
Opal is a one-of-a-kind gemstone that has been sacred to many global Indigenous cultures and is intertwined with their legends and histories. In one culture, opal was created when their ancestral being was transmitted to earth via a great rainbow.
In other Native societies, opal is tied to the dreaming worlds, helping those in their dream quests toward enlightenment and understanding. Even in modern metaphysical ideologies, opal is said to amplify emotions, acting as a prism in the aura.
Historically, opal has had a wild ride in valuation. In early Europe, opal was a gem prized by royalty. In the Middle Ages, magical effects began to be ascribed to opal. It was thought to predict health, strengthen the heart, and protect the wearer against infection. It was also supposed to provide its wearer great fortune. Some even went so far as to believe wearing an opal could grant its wearer invisibility (but only when coupled with a fresh bay leaf in hand).
That changed in the early 1800s when a popular publication placed an opal in league with dire omens and ill fortune. Soon after, opals began to be associated with the evil eye and death, contributing to a steep decline in the popularity and sales of opal (by as much as 50% in Europe).
Fortunately, superstition has been left in the past, and opals have once more been allowed to bedazzle. Opal is the official birthstone for those born in the month of October. Moreover, opals are more affordable than diamonds and other precious gemstones, and with vastly more character, radiance, and singularity, collectors worldwide have become devotees.
Multimedia artist (and my dear friend) Heather of Pourticulture is one such fan. Her love affair with opal began as a child, after reading a moving book about a boy and an opal mine called “The Fire in the Stone.” Today her collection includes some very special pieces, including sentimental gifts from family members that are now priceless remembrances.
Says Heather, “My dream opal to collect is a giant opalized ammonite. My fantasy ring would be a setting that conceals the edges of the stone in some way, so it doesn’t chip, and so the setting itself doesn’t snag on clothing and things. Smooth and sleek, and modern. On the other hand, I’d love to find an ornate Victorian piece: scrolled and lacy, framing a stone almost like a cameo.”
Many opal collectors have a similar wishlist for specialized settings on their opal rings, as the right (or wrong) setting can make a world of difference. This brings us to…
Many gorgeous gems, such as pearls, tanzanites, and opals, are vulnerable to scratches and concussion. This is especially true when worn on rings.
Unlike diamond and other gemstones on the upper end of the Mohs scale, opal is a delicate stone, and it needs special attention. As a general rule, opals are easier to protect the less domed they are (low cabochon), as less of the stone will protrude above the setting.
Bezeled settings are best
The most secure way to set your opal is to bezel it. The bezel setting involves hammering a lip of metal over the edge and around the gem, completely encasing the edge of the stone, securing and protecting it.
Claw settings provide much less protection, are less secure, and have the ability to wear down over time, particularly when found in rings.
A particular type of opal called boulder opal is most robust. It has a naturally rigid ironstone backing and is more durable than other types of opal. Black opals, crystal opals, and white opals are also outstanding but contain less of the same hard-wearing quality as boulder opals.
In addition, boulder opals have an unusual “free” shape, which lends itself well to more creative designs. For opal engagement rings, boulder opals would prove especially ideal.
Caring for an opal engagement ring
In addition to these setting considerations, there are a few basic rules for keeping your opal ring in great shape. Don’t immerse your opal ring in water or otherwise wear your ring when doing work that’s hard on your hands.
Remember that rapid temperature changes can make opals vulnerable to cracking, such as when doing dishes or showering, so make sure to protect your ring even in everyday situations.
It’s good practice for longevity to follow the protocol of last on, first off.
Opals make beautiful lasting engagement rings with forethought, care, and special planning. It’s no wonder that those captivated by the magical combinations of cool colors and dazzling fire consider opals well worth the extra care they require.
Types of Engagement Rings
Just as your love is unique, so, too, should your ring be one of a kind. Even though diamonds make elegant and durable heirloom gems, it’s not hard to find similarities. In comparison, no two opals are alike. Their beauty is rare and unrivaled, and couples who want to celebrate their own unique love story should seriously consider opal engagement rings.
There are as many styles of engagement rings as there are couples. Fashion trends and innovation continue to change and reshape the landscape of engagement rings. But there are several abiding categories of engagement ring that stand the test of time and trends, and are easily recognizable. These are:
- three stone
- halo, and
Solitaire engagement rings are simple, beautiful, and timeless, featuring one solo gemstone. This style is one of the most popular of engagement ring designs, and stack easily with most wedding bands.
Opal Engagement Ring by BlossomAndSuch
A distinctive ring of Australian natural opal in rose gold, this piece is handmade and sold by the artist. Its band features an understated Celtic detail, and four small diamonds complement its extraordinary look.
Solitaire Opal Engagement Ring by MinimalVS
This beautiful solitaire ring features an oval opal set securely in a bezel setting. Handmade and sold by the artist, the band can be created in yellow, white, and rose gold, supporting a stunning Australian opal.
Pear shaped white Opal engagement ring by ReindeerCo
Round brillaint cut natural opal ring by GEMSDEPOSIT
This design is defined by small gemstones placed beside a larger stone in a jewelry piece. The accent pieces are designed to enhance the overall beauty and brilliance of the stone in the featured position.
Opal engagement ring by NYFineJewelry
Diamonds beautifully accent the pear-shaped, natural opal in this classic setting. This lovely ring is available in white, yellow, and rose gold, and the seller has absolutely stellar ratings for their pieces and service.
Mini Natural Opal Engagement Ring by MoissaniteRings
The modern style of this minimalist ring is particularly engaging. Its diamonds are laid out horizontally to accent the round opal in center stage. It is available in white, yellow, and rose gold and with natural and lab-created opals to meet many budget options.
Statement Diamond Opal Engagement Ring by DoronMeravWeddings
This statement ring, with its art nouveau design inspiration, is positively breathtaking. Handmade of white gold — and with a dramatic nature motif — it features accent diamonds and your choice of Australian natural opal.
Oval Opal engagement ring by rststudio
Three-stone engagement rings are a lovely choice for couples who want their rings to be filled with deeper meaning. Traditionally, these rings symbolize friendship, love, and fidelity, although they can also stand for yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Vibrant Genuine Australian Opal ring by AndersonBeattie
Australian Opal Diamond Ring by LoveAlwaysGalicia
Antique three stone opal ring by Yridesign
This tasteful ring comes in several karats and color options, all of which are incredibly reasonable. Additionally, all of the gemstones are available for upgrade, making it highly versatile. The main band is art deco-inspired, very graceful, and feminine.
Oval cut opal engagement ring by GemsOdes
An elegant, balanced vintage-look setting supports a dazzling, oval opal in this three-stone engagement ring. Accent gemstones are available in both maisonette and diamond, and the band is available in white, rose, and yellow gold — availing this ring to many budgets.
Enjoying a resurgence in popularity, halo rings feature smaller stones encircling a larger center stone gem, resulting in added sparkle and decadence. Halo rings are luxurious and dazzling, and are especially desirable for stacking into wedding sets.
Transparent Boulder Genuine Opal Ring by GraceGemsUS
Bold and beautiful, this Celtic-inspired ring features a vivid blue raw opal surrounded by diamonds and accented with rubies and travorites. It’s customizable in 14k and 18k and white, rose, and yellow gold.
Opal Halo Engagement Ring by TheJewelTriumph
This art deco halo engagement ring has a delicate vintage beauty supporting a brilliant oval fire opal at the center. The band is strong and sweeping, available in silver as well as 14 and 18k white, rose, and yellow gold.
Opal Engagement Ring by RenBijoux
A dazzling, round opal is the centerpiece of this halo engagement ring. Features an 8mm opal stone complemented by a dazzling white diamond halo, which enhance the opal’s overall natural brilliance. The strong, modern setting stands in graceful balance to the artistic design.
Opal Engagement Ring Halo by Jeweloverstore
Two circuits of CZ diamonds encase the round-cut, natural opal centerpiece in this art deco-inspired ring. The dainty band is available in several options and carats, including white, rose, and yellow gold at 10k, 14k, and 18k. This ring would be perfect for stacking into a romantic wedding set.
Lenora Opal Engagement Ring by MichelliaFineJewelry
The Lenora engagement ring features a chorus of diamonds encasing both the band and surrounding the vivid oval Ethiopian Fire Opal. Truly a stunning ring, it’s available in 14k and18k yellow, white, and rose gold and even comes in platinum.
While there is no accepted industry standard to the term vintage engagement ring — it could refer to an antique ring or simply a beautiful, romantic nod to styles of the past — vintage rings celebrate historical styles from older eras. Vintage rings are a wonderful choice for those who style themselves out of era, or love a touch of timeless drama.
Evanthe Opal Engagement Ring by MichelliaFineJewelry
Combining the essence of art nouveau with modern romantic elegance, the Evanthe engagement ring is perfect for a timeless love story. Centerstage is a brilliant, natural Ethiopian fire opal; round faceted cut adorned with ethereal diamonds.
Vintage opal engagement ring set by willwork
Art deco-inspired splendor, handmade and sold straight from the talented designer. This elegant engagement ring features a pear cut, natural opal gemstone with moissanite accents. It’s available at several price points in 10k, 14k, and 18k (yellow, white, and rose gold).
Rose Gold Opal Engagement Ring by DawnVertreesJewelry
Talk about a statement piece! This uncommonly beautiful engagement ring has been hand-sculpted to resemble twigs, wood, and to capture the elegance of nature. The raw opal center stone has been hand cut in the artist’s studio to fit their unique settings.
Vintage Opal engagement ring by CPFineJewelry
This stunning vintage-look engagement ring features a nod to art deco styling. Its faceted oval center gem features orange hues, and is beautifully supported by moissanite or natural diamonds in a snowflake pattern. With different price points based on a spectrum of options — metals, gemstones, and accents can be customized — this ring is a wonderful choice for many budgets.
With a rich and dramatic history — including inherent lore — and containing unique, natural assemblages of the full color spectrum, opal gemstones are a magical choice for your most special ring.
As no two love stories are alike, so, too, engagement rings should be unique; a quality that opal gems naturally embody. Worldwide, devotees of opal value its brilliance, stability, and charm, making opal jewelry a favorite for sentimental, heirloom pieces.
Although beyond amazing, opal gemstones come with special considerations. Due to its delicate nature, opals require forethought and specialized setting selections to keep them safe and enduring. From household chores to everyday tasks, opal jewlery needs to be accounted for in order to protect it. However, with the correct settings and some readjustment or your daily habits, your opal ring will go onto become a cherished family treasure.
Whether you opt for an Australian opal soliataire, an art deco-inspired statement piece spotlighting an Ethiopian fire opal, or a modern take on a timeless design starring an intense blue opal — or something equally fantastic of your own imagining — your ring will be as romantic and as magical as your own enduring love story.
- Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australian National Gemstone,
- Opal Gemstone meaning
- International Gem Society, Protective Gem Settings for Rings
- International Gem Society, An Incredible Union of Colors: Choosing Opal Engagement Ring Stones
- Wikipedia, Engagement ring
- Wikipedia, Opal
- Wikipedia, Mohs scale of mineral hardness
- Wikipedia, Young Woman with Unicorn