Gemstone Index: Opal

Published on
December 29, 2021 4:33:59 PM PST December 29, 2021 4:33:59 PM PSTth, December 29, 2021 4:33:59 PM PST

Opal Gemstone Beads from Rings & Things: Opal beads have the same basic chemical composition as quartz, but usually contain 6 - 10% water. Because of this, opal jewelry components should be protected from heat and strong light. Loss of water can cause opals to crack and/or lose iridescence. Opal beads can be oiled to prevent dehydration. Make sure to keep your opal beads away from detergents, ultrasonic cleaners, metal polish, acids and strong solvents. Birthstones for October include Opal, Rose Zircon and Pink Tourmaline.


African Green Opal beads (aka Australian green opal and petrified green opal) are a form of common opal, and come in several pretty shades of brown and green. They sometimes display black or brown dendrites (fern-like inclusions).


Bello Opal is a beautiful synthetic opal. This is a polymer-impregnated lab-grown opal (80% silica/ 20% resin), with an intense play of color, and no cracking, crazing or yellowing over time.


Common Opal (sometimes called opalite) does not have the flashes of light found in precious opal, but both are hydrated amorphous Silicon Dioxide.


Wood Opal (or wood opalite) is a form of common opal. Its neutral, earthy colors make it an excellent option for guys -- especially guys with October birthdays.


Opalite Glass
The term "opalite" was a popular term for common opal before it became a popular term for manmade opal, so anywhere we use it, we try to clarify whether it's a common opal, opalite glass, or some other type of opalite. Opalite glass beads are also known as moonstone quartz, opalized quartz, and sea opal. With a little research many years ago we discovered that these "gemstone" beads (along with many gemstones circulating in the market at the time) were actually glass masquerading as natural stones. These beads are distinguishable from natural semiprecious stones by occasional, accidental bubble inclusions and a lower resistance to scratches and breakage. Nevertheless, manmade opalite is beautiful, and it is cut, faceted, and polished just like any other gemstone. Opalite glass beads have a cloudy center and few visible inclusions. They project a blue sheen when worn against most colors, but take on a yellowish tinge when placed next to white.

Pink opalite glass beads display a cloudy pink color with shimmering qualities. (Although it was very pretty, we no longer stock Pink Opalite, because too often, the pink hue was simply a plastic-y coating on the outside of the bead, and the coating could peel off.)