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Our Creative Director, Renata Bernard featured on Australian Financial Review Magazine

The Australian Financial Review Magazine is Australia’s leading monthly inserted magazine delivering the highest quality content with a focus on exclusive news, breaking features, profiles in business and politics and an unparalleled reputation for combining gravitas and glamour coverage of fashion, luxury and lifestyle.

Life & Leisure is inserted into the Friday and weekend edition of The Australian Financial Review newspaper for advertising environment for luxury clients. It covers fashion, jewellery, design, travel, property and more, in every issue. In November article issue, you will find that our Creative Director of Opal Minded, Dr Renata Bernard was featured.

The article focuses on ‘How opals found their shine‘ featuring the words and point of view of Renata Bernard and along with other designers about opals. Since the Australian gemstone has become highly prized by jewellers and collectors “There’s not enough education around opals,” says creative director Renata Bernard, whose family business, Opal Minded, specialises in the much-coveted boulder and black variety and regularly fields queries from collectors worldwide.

Opals have had a PR problem for centuries, being thought of as both enchanting and repelling. Opals are more fragile than diamonds and sapphires and aren’t wisest for daily wear, but Bernard says couples are now considering them for engagement rings.

Although Renata Bernard’s and McKinney’s glittering offerings range in dollar value from eye-wateringly expensive right up to invitation-only deals done behind closed doors, there are chic entry-point options.

According to Renata, the excitement an opal generates comes from its movement. “It isn’t a static stone,” she explains. “It’s the play of colour that captivates.”

“Opals carry a perception that they’re for the low-end tourist market. But as with any stone, there’s a huge variation in quality. We’ve had guides come in with tourist groups before, point at a few things and walk out saying we can take you somewhere where opals are a fraction of the price. But the quality we carry is impeccable.” – Renata Bernard

 

How to Tell If an Opal is Real?

Fail-safe ways to spot a fake

To the untrained eye, spotting the difference between a natural opal and a sophisticated synthetic may not be immediately apparent. The spectrum of artificial opals varies from the obviously fake to the hard-to-detect lab-produced. To help authenticate your opal, check out some benchmarked identifiers below.

Real opal vs lab created

Let’s begin with some clear distinctions. It is not technically accurate to describe a lab-produced opal as ‘fake’. Most lab-created opals are done in a way that mimics the organic process as closely as possible to natural opal formation but within a concentrated period. Synthetic, or ‘lab-produced’ opals possess nearly all the same chemical, physical and optical characteristics as genuine, mined opals. However, there does exist some lab opals that have been modified with additional materials and, chemically speaking, are not identical to natural opal.

In the 1970s, The Gilson Company was the first to develop a three-step process to produce a believable synthetic opal.

The three steps are as follows:

Step 1: Microscopic spheres of silica are created through precipitation.
Step 2: The spheres settle in acidic water for over a year.
Step 3: The spheres are then consolidated with a hydrostatic press, making sure not to disturb the stacked arrangement (this is what facilitates the opal’s play of colour).

Because a lab-created opal can be easily reproduced, it is less rare and, therefore, much less valuable than natural opal. Guidelines exist to protect buyers from being duped unknowingly into buying synthetic opals. Luckily, Australia is home to the world’s largest supply of natural, precious opal, and any credible Australian opal supplier will be able to provide proof of an opal’s origin and type.

How to spot a synthetic opal?

There are four primary ways to spot if an opal has been created in a lab. The first and most visible giveaway is the ‘lizard skin’ effect. Lizard skin is the effect of a systematic ordering of colour – the pattern presents within the colour blocks as ‘lizard skin’.

When you view a synthetic opal side-on, its colour structure will present as neatly lined columns, with the pattern appearing in a repeated uniform way through the stone. Genuine opal, when viewed side-on, will appear solid as it is not composed of different layers. Natural opal would not appear standardised from all angles.

Synthetic opal is more porous than natural opal. The density of a lab-produced opal is much lower than naturally formed silica comprised opal, which will feel more lightweight. If a synthetic opal is exposed to moisture for long periods or submerged underwater, you may be able to see the condensation or water build-up.

Another giveaway of synthetic opal is to hold it under UV light. You’ll find it does not shine like a natural opal does.

Ensuring your opal is genuine

Real opal will not be made of glass, plastic or resin. A genuine opal is a solid stone made of silica. Unless your opal is specified as a doublet or triplet, it should not have foreign material glued or fused to the back.

A high-quality opal doublet will have a genuine opal face with a man-made backing to add to the weight and substance. Doublets and triplets can also be referred to as ‘composite stones’ and can make excellent affordable alternatives. It’s important to be aware of the exact opal you’re buying – do your research to avoid being overcharged.

A notable marker of natural opal is the even spread of colour across the opal’s body. Colour play should be showcased by the opal when viewed from both the front and side. It should also be free of soot marks. A soot mark can indicate that the opal has been artificially enhanced in some way, either by a sugar or smoking treatment.

 

Real opal vs fake

A fake opal can be easier to detect than a sophisticated lab-produced one. Fake opals include those that are made from glass, plastic or resin. An opal imitation will often have an overly shiny appearance, and the colour flashes will be repeated in an organised pattern. Turn it side-on, and a columnar structure will be revealed to you. Real, natural opals possess irregularities, which adds to the stone’s authenticity and beauty.

Glass opals can be produced in an array of colours designed to mimic the physical appearance of natural opals. There are two main types of glass used to reproduce fake opals. Slocum stone is a silicate type of glass that features flakes of iridescent film that replicate the play of colour seen in genuine opal. Opalescent glass is the other commonly used manmade glass. It possesses a sheen-like lustre that, to the untrained eye, may appear as genuine opal. Opalite is a type of man-made plastic with an opalescence effect and is sometimes used to create fake opals.

What about treated opals?

Sedimentary opals that are mined in Australia are much less porous than those found in other parts of the world. A natural opal that is particularly porous can be enhanced by either dye, smoke, sugar or acid treatment. Various ‘treatments’ are intended to alter the body colour of the opal to look like precious black or black boulder opals. A sugar or acid treatment is carried out by soaking an opal for a few days at a time in warm sugar water, followed by submerging it in sulfuric acid. The acid works to oxidise the sugar between the pores of the opal, producing dark-coloured particles and stains.

Australia is home to some of the world’s most exquisite and precious opals. To ensure your precious opal is the real deal, ask your supplier where the opal was mined. Your Australian opal should come with a certificate of origin and authenticity. The best way to ensure authenticity is to purchase your opal from an accredited supplier with gemological qualifications.

Some of Australia’s most popular and respected opal mines include Jundah-Oplaville and Winton located in Queensland, Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, and Coober Pedy in South Australia.

The Opal Minded guarantee

A real, natural opal should always be accompanied by a statement of its origin. At Opal Minded, all our opals are natural, untreated, ethically sourced and majority are mined by our founder himself – John Bernard. You can discover more about where we mine our precious opals from here.

We guarantee our jewellery and unset stones for life. Our gemologists’ qualifications are from the Gemmological Association of Australia (GAA) and the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA). A Certificate of Authenticity validates the origin of the opal, its weight and type and provides a photograph that identifies it. Our valuers and gemologists ensure our prices reflect a fair retail market price. Our solid opals are treatment-free, and a Certificate of Valuation by one of our accredited valuers confirms this in writing.

How to Assess an Opal’s Value?

Discover what makes an opal valuable – before you invest

Like any high-end purchase, you’ll want to ensure you’re investing in something that can hold its value over time. If it’s a gemstone or fine jewellery you’ve set your sights on, you can’t look past premium Australian opal – considered the best quality in the world.

The increasingly tight restrictions around opal mining have meant that there is less certainty around supply – creating an environment of surplus demand and limited supply. Due to the shortage of premium opals, it’s unlikely your opal will decrease in value in the foreseeable future.

There is an untouched uniqueness inherent in every opal – granting the owner a piece of exquisite nature, never to be repeated. With their uniqueness and scarcity comes a layer of complexity when it comes to assessing their true value. Solid opals have traditionally been considered the best investment. However, the popularity of opal doublets has risen over time due to their affordability and the elevation of competition.

The major difference between valuing an opal and a diamond is that there is no precise dollar to carat systemisation for opals. The information that informs an opal’s value is mainly trend-driven and circumstantial. If you’re considering investing in opal, it pays to be aware of the qualities that influence the value. Whether you’re making an investment or buying purely for aesthetic pleasure, learning more about these inimitable gemstones will only help solidify your decision making.

What makes an opal valuable?

The value of opal is measured on its rarity and a combination of characteristics. Natural solid opals are the most sought-after – they are polished directly out of opal rough with or (less often) without its host rock. In contrast, opal doublets contain a slice of opal fused to a common-opal or other backing.

You can read more about the different types of opals here.

Opals have an amorphous nature rather than crystal structure and contain tightly packed spheres of hydrated silica. The spheres are either packed with or without internal order. Common opal results from a lack of internal order and is significantly less valuable. Precious opal results from structured order and captivates with its magnetic play of colour. Its play of colour is determined by the way the light travels through the prism-like space between the internal spheres. You may experience hypnotic colour movement from the light bouncing between the spheres when you move a precious opal.

A general truism of the industry is the darker an opal’s body tone, the more value it holds. It’s assumed that a darker body tone gives more vibrance to the opal’s spectrum of colour, and that is why we frequently see black opal prized more highly than any other variety of opal. However, planning an investment based on body tone could lead you up the garden path. Instead, you may end up with an inferior opal only because its body tone is black N1. Body tone makes sense in monetary value only in combination with other factors such as colour play and variety, pattern and brightness. Some exceptionally coloured white opals make an excellent investment because they are bright and colourful and have a pleasing, harmonious pattern.

Opal body tone guide

The combinations of opal colours and patterns are endless. But a striking rainbow explosion usually attracts the most attention, as does a knockout display of two bright varieties in the same hue. Red against black is rarely seen and considered the most expensive and desirable colour combination, provided its play of colour is vibrant and bright. The brighter and more distinct the pattern, the greater its value.

Opal brightness guide

You may not be aware, but the direction of colour is also a crucial value gauge. Opal that shows vibrant colour from all directions is considered more valuable and versatile than a one-directional opal – with all other factors being equal. The best quality opal will shine with brilliance from every direction. A one-directional opal means the exhibition of colour can only be appreciated from a certain angle. A dead spot is when no colour is visible from a certain angle, which may lower the overall opal value.

Various opals pattern 

Opal brilliance refers to the brightness and clarity of the colours at play when the stone is being viewed face-up and ranges from brilliant, bright, subdued or dull. If the colours do not face you when you view the opal from the front, the value decreases.

Opal is typically cut in a cabochon shape. A cabochon with a high dome is more valuable than a flat stone, as it usually means that the thickness of the precious opal is greater.

Clarity is defined by the absence of disruptions to the opal’s colour play. You’ll want to avoid any opal with an inclusion or obvious imperfections, such as potch lines, sand, or a bad cut. The fewer inclusions, the better, unless they add subjective beauty in the form of a desirable or exciting pattern in the gem.

When you purchase opal, be sure to do so from an accredited supplier with a sound reputation. You’ll want to ensure that your opal comes with a Certificate of Authenticity to confirm the validity of the origin. At Opal Minded we also issue at request, Certificates of Valuation by our qualified gemmologists and valuers accredited with NCJV (principal valuers body in Australia) who undertake regular professional development and spend time at our opal mines in Jundah-Opalville, Queenlsand.

Many experienced jewellers and valuers shy away from handling Australian opals, as there is no agreed internationally nomenclature as yet, and experts rely on their experience and the breadth of their understanding of the state of the market to determine a stone’s value. Nevertheless, opals can make an excellent investment – just be sure of what you’re buying. The differentiating quality of precious opals is their play of colour, and the brighter – the better. Common opals have practically the same chemical composition, minus the magnificent play of colour. There are also synthetic, composed, and imitation opals, and opals of different origins and susceptibility to water. The market at the high end is small yet vibrant. Precious opal provides a one-of-a-kind value, and ultimately it comes down to how much one is prepared to spend to secure an outstanding piece of gemstone.

How to Buy an Opal Online? The Ultimate Guide

How to buy an Opal Online?
Your ultimate guide to buying an unset opal
or opal jewellery online

With an abundance of online opal sites, a wide range of prices and varying opal characteristics to consider, buying opal online is an exciting journey but can also be a daunting one if you’re unsure of what to look out for and the right questions to ask.
To ensure you do your necessary due diligence, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to buying precious opal online, the questions you should ask and the qualities to examine.

Need to know basics

The first consideration to make is whether you want to buy for quality or aesthetic pleasure. If buying for visual impact, then colour brightness, uniqueness, stone size, and excitement are key factors. If you’re sticking to a budget, you may wish to consider synthetic or imitation opal – as long as you’re aware of what you are buying. Buying an opal doublet is a great way to reduce your spend, while maintaining authenticity, as it combines precious opal with a man-made backing.

Precious opal can be defined as an opal that exhibits ‘play-of-colour’, which can also be described as ‘opal essence’, whereby the colours shift and change as light reflects on the stone’s surface. There are many online sites selling precious opal from Ethiopia, Australia as well as Mexico and some other locations. Some sell opal doublets, triplets, as well as imitation opal.

Just like other valuable gemstones, synthetic versions of opals also exist. Synthetic opals are produced in a laboratory and hold very low market value compared to the real thing. Synthetic opal has a specific pattern called ‘lizard skin’ and ‘chicken wire’ that can be identified easily by a gemmological test. When taking a closer look, this type of opal doesn’t have the fluidity of colour play that natural opal does.

It’s also important to understand the difference between a solid and composite opal. Solid opal is opal in its pure form and can also include an opal cut with its natural host rock. A composite opal includes opal doublets and opal triplets. Doublets and triplets are made with a slice of natural opal glued to the backing of another (sometimes synthetic) material. The backing of the secondary material is often dark, causing the stone to appear darker and brighter in colour. This is usually an attempt to replicate the look of a valuable black opal, and occasionally, light opal. A composite opal is not as durable as solid opals, and we recommend that you avoid frequent immersion in water to preserve the longevity of your piece.
Unsurprisingly, opal doublets and triplets are lower in price – that is not to say that impressive quality opal doublets do not exist.

At Opal Minded, we create our opal doublets with the same premium Australian opal that we use for all our other pieces. We start with a thin layer of precious opal that’s attached with strong glue to either dark colourless opal, known as ‘potch’, or to ironstone. Our opal doublets allow you to enjoy wearing beautiful opal, but at a more approachable price point.

You can also assess an opal’s value based on its chemical composition – often influenced by its geographical origin. For example, a sedimentary opal has a much lower water content than a volcanic opal, making it stronger and more durable. Australia produces mostly sedimentary opals, whereas Ethiopia produces most of the world’s volcanic opals. At Opal Minded, our opals are expertly set for long-term wear.

Defining opal brilliance and value

When it comes to high quality opals, Australian precious opals cannot be looked past. They possess brightness, durability, rarity. Ethiopian-mined opals are more often treated and are of volcanic origin, which oftentimes can make them significantly more fragile. Australian opals are considered the very best in the world. Within the Australian opal family lie distinct opal types: white, crystal and black opals. An opal’s body tone and origin determine what category type an opal belongs to.

Most people think of the light body tone opal when they think of Australian opals, while others search specifically for black opals.  Black opals are found in Australia in Lightning Ridge mine in New South Wales or various locations in Queensland. They attract higher prices than their lighter Australian counterparts. Yet, some lighter tone opals can be rarer and more valuable than dark body opals. A gemmologist and opal valuer can help clearly define why a particular opal has been assigned the value it has. To learn more about Australian precious opals and their origin and defining characteristics – check out our blog post: Where are Opals Found.

Key considerations before you buy

  1. What opal type are you looking at? What is its origin and has it been treated?
  2. What is the size of the opal face (not the carat weight).
  3. Request close-up images of the opal, so you know exactly what you are looking at. Close up images will also reveal any fractures and the quality of the polish.
  4. Request a photo of the back, especially if it is an unset opal. You will want to ensure the back is uniform and therefore, lasting.
  5. Ensure the opal supplier can provide quality guarantees, a return policy, certificates of authenticity, and even more importantly – Certificates of Valuation by a registered valuer.
  6. Check whether the business has a physical location, and if you can trace the people involved in the businesses.

There are many opal types that we could discuss, but one of the most important checkers you should make as an online buyer, is that you view a realistic representation of what you will ultimately receive.

Do not get swayed by the talk of black opals being superior to white opals. There are some that are, but it is not uncommon to come across a white opal, which may exhibit a brightness and play of colour that is mesmerising and far more impressive than the majority of black opals.

Below we’ve put together a quick checklist of what qualities make an opal truly brilliant

  • A darker body tone usually indicates a higher value than the same quality and size as a lighter opal.
  • Red is more valuable than orange, yellow than purple and green than blue.
  • Opal with a multitude of colours is considered more alluring.
  • The more defined an opal pattern, with broad coverage, the rarer the opal is.
  • Opals that refract colour with their entire face at every angle are rare and, therefore, most valuable.

If you’re in the market for the best opal in terms of rarity and quality, you cannot look past an oval, cabochon-cut, multi-coloured, broad pattern opal. It should exhibit bright colour play against a black body tone background. A carat of this description would set you back $10,000, and more.

Opal Minded opals

You may want to consider the opal mining practices involved in procuring the opal you seek. At Opal Minded, we take ethical mining and sustainable practices seriously. Since we were established in 1989, we have demonstrated the highest mining and excavating opals standards. Read more about our ethical and sustainable practices here.
We are also proudly the only opal boutique in Australia with our own mine. Our Queensland mine Jundah-Opalville is where we commonly unearth our exquisite black boulder, crystal and bright black pipe opals.

When comparing opals, it’s crucial to compare like with like. As experienced opal purveyors of over 30 years, we know a universal demand for authentic, quality opals exists. So, if you’re planning on buying a piece of opal jewellery online, we recommend you act with caution. If you’ve come across an opal that looks too good (too cheap) to be true, it probably is. Make sure you ask the retailer to provide proof of the opal’s quality and origin.

We guarantee each opal’s authenticity and value with recognised certification. Certificates are available on request for no additional cost. A Certificate of Authenticity validates the origin of the opal, its weight and its type. We have a team of accredited NJCV jewellery valuers who can issue valuation certificates for any purchased opal piece. You can use this legally binding document as a reliable assessment for jewellery insurance.

Our valuers and gemmologists ensure that our prices reflect a fair retail market price. Worth noting is that all Opal Minded natural opals remain untreated. You may want to ask your retailer if an opal you’re considering is treated or untreated. Like many precious gemstones, an opal may have been treated to optimise its brightness and colour play, or to cover fructure of another feature that may reduce its value.

Take advantage of our tax-free and lifetime guarantee. Whenever you purchase with Opal Minded opal, you automatically receive the benefit of lifetime Opal Care Service – meaning you can bring your opal jewellery in at any time for servicing and repolishing at no extra cost. We also offer free worldwide insured shipping.

As you’ve probably realised by now, the beauty of opal lies in its uniqueness and the joyful individual markers. Look for the qualities that most speak to you, after all, an opal is for life.

Once you’ve considered an opal’s defining qualities, you’ll want to narrow down your choice by what you’re most drawn to. Buying an opal online can be just as enjoyable and successful as buying in person. You’ll want to consider your skin tone alongside your favourite picks. Our collections showcase plenty of photos of every opal piece in our collection and we are always happy to provide you with more photos or a video of the opal in motion, if desired.

We also offer private in-person or online appointments with our Creative Director Renata Bernard. Renata is a qualified opal jewellery designer and can talk you through the collection and make suggestions based on your preferred taste and style. If you have a vision for how you would like your opal to be set, we can offer a bespoke service that will help turn your opal dream into a reality. Check out this service in more detail here.

Final thoughts

We recommend combining your instinct with some basic opal knowledge to arrive at your final decision. It pays to know why some opals are valued as highly as they are. Their rarity, quality, durability, and origin all influence the final price.

There are many types of precious opal available to buy and each come with their own value proposition. So, depending on your budget, you may want to make a list of what values you deem the most important. The rule of thumb is that if something looks cheap, it generally is. Fine Australian opals are in most cases, the world’s most durable, and with this high quality, comes a higher price tag. At Opal Minded, we offer peace of mind, by looking for all of the qualities that influence the overall durability of the gemstone.

If you’re looking for visual brilliance and quality combined – you can’t go past the shining qualities of an Australian precious opal. Natural, solid, untreated and sedimentary characteristics ensure you’ve found an opal for life. Once armed with this knowledge, make sure you ask your fine jewellery supplier to provide you with Certificates of Authenticity and Value. The documented provenance will secure the jewel’s value long into the future. We believe a special piece of jewellery should be an heirloom investment, something you can wear daily, treasure forever and pass on to your future generations.

Opal Minded Awarded Best Ethical Jewellery Brand 2021 by LUX Life Magazine

We are honoured and humbled to be recognised as the Best Ethical Jewellery Brand – Asia Pacific in LUXLife Magazine’s acclaimed 2021 Global Excellence Awards.

LUXlife Magazine is the UK’s premium lifestyle publication covering all aspects of high-end lifestyle, including the finest, high-end jewellery, art, food and drink, hotels and resorts, health and beauty, automotive, and technology.

LUXlife’s Global Excellence Awards commends the contributions of the very best global luxury businesses who aim to go above and beyond the competition and demonstrate excellence within their chosen sector and market. Awards are based on merit, ensuring every company has an equal chance to gain the recognition they deserve.

Since 1989, Sydney-based Opal Minded specialises in fine jewellery made exclusively with Australian opals. Managed by the Bernard family; Creative Director, Dr Renata Bernard designs one-of-a-kind opal pieces whilst founder and famed Australian Opal Hunter, John Bernard brings in the best opals from their opal mines in Queensland.

Steeped in a 70-year-old mining tradition, Opal Minded mines sustainably with a strong emphasis on a holistic ethical approach. The company works to a ‘gold standard’ of land rehabilitation that ensures they leave the land in a better state than before they started. They ensure that procuring high-quality opals for their jewellery doesn’t come at a cost to the flora and fauna, or the people involved. With sustainably mined Australian precious opals, buying guilt-free fine jewellery has never been easier.

So, if the “why” and “how” matters to you as much as the “what” of the opal world, Opal Minded is the destination for you.

Is An Opal the Right Gemstone for You?

Uncover Opal symbolism
and some intriguing benefits of wearing it

You may not know it, but there is a whole lot more to an opal than meets the eye. Beyond their exquisite beauty and enchanting colour play lies a tapestry of rich history and fascinating beliefs on opal symbolism and its healing qualities.

The opal gets its name from the Latin word ‘Opalus’, but is believed to have originated from the Sanskrit word Upala, meaning ‘precious stone’.

The opal carries with it mythology from all over the world. In the Roman Empire, it was once considered the most valuable and highly sought-after stone. For centuries aristocrats and royalty adorned themselves with the rare and multi-coloured gemstones. In Greek mythology, opals were described as the stone formation of the tears that the god Zeus wept after defeat.

Indian mythology also associates the gemstone with a revered and worshipped deity. They believed that when the ‘Goddess of Rainbows’ turned herself to stone to evade other gods’ advances, opals represented fragments of her body.

Opal symbolism

The opal has long been considered a lucky and protective talisman. During the Middle Ages, it was believed that if you wore an amulet containing opal, then you would be protected from failing vision and that your mind and memory would be strengthened. It was also considered a revealing stone, enabling its wearer to distinguish a friend from foe with a change in its colour.

The opal may help bring balance, good karma, and a renewed sense of hope by serving as a’ good luck’ charm. If you or someone you know has been experiencing intense emotional overwhelm, then an opal amulet may assist with balancing some of those big emotions and aid in healing and strengthening the emotional body. It is said that an opal sends grounding energy to our feet, or ‘base chakra’ and helps to keep our hearts open and our minds clear.

The opal is known as an ‘amplification’ stone that can bring thoughts and feelings to the surface and then intensify them. Wearing it can serve as a positive reminder to be aware of the thoughts and actions you are sending out into the universe. Through amplification, the opal may help release behaviours that are perceived as negative and are no longer serving you. A clearing and cleansing of negative thought patterns pave the way for more loving, positive, and creative energy to enter. Some call it the stone of happy dreams and positive changes.

Because the opal is known as a stone of positive transformation, it is believed that wearing it may help you find the strength to look inwards and confront any negative emotions that may be lingering. The opal helps to bring clarity to an unclear situation or feeling. It is often used as a cleansing and healing stone that can help with recovery after a traumatic heartbreak.

A white opal may help with positive manifestation, particularly relating to financial goals. Because it is considered a lucky stone, wearing it is said to help bring your energy and dreams into alignment to successfully achieve what you desire. Health, wealth, and abundance start from a mindset shift, and symbolically, an opal may provide the emotional support needed.

Opals and love

White opal is the gemstone relegated to the month of October and zodiac sign of Libra (ruled by Venus, the planet of love). Libra is known as the most romantic sign of the zodiac; it represents romance, relationships, harmony, and balance. If you’re a Libran, you’ll likely value love and commitment above all else. Because of the opal’s connection to the sign of Libra, it is often related to feelings of deep passion, love and desire. The opal, an amplifier of (hidden) emotions, may help bring inner desires or secret inhibitions to the surface.

When a Libran wears white opal, all these positive qualities become amplified. Scorpios’ birthdays fall into the (tail-end) of October, so they too will benefit from wearing opal. Wearing opal may help to balance some of Scorpios’ more challenging traits enhancing their internal beauty and eternal shine.

 

Opals and feng shui energy

If you’re considering placing opal in your home or workspace, then keep the following in mind.

Due to its amorphous composition, the opal has a strong water element energy. According to the laws of Feng Shui, the qualities associated with water energy are stillness, strength, and purification. Precious opals in shades of black or blue can be used to elevate a meditation or prayer room or may be positioned in a place where you seek quiet contemplation. The water element corresponds with the north area of your home and relates to your career and life path.

Unsurprisingly, fire opals are related to the energy of fire. The fire element is associated with warmth, brightness, action, enthusiasm, and high energy, and it corresponds with the south area of your home. If your room needs an energetic boost, then consider enhancing the south area with some fire opal.

The mystical qualities and benefits of wearing opal

Opal is said to have the power to infuse an aura with the full spectrum of light and provide total body healing. The colour play of opals has been linked to the different chakra centres. An opal is powerful enough to activate several chakra zones and unite them to connect to the crown chakra.

The colour green relates to the heart chakra and may assist with heart-centred emotions and overwhelm. Green opal is often referred to as the lovers’ stone and may be beneficial in a relationship crisis.

White opal is a calming and protective stone, absorbing negative emotions and bringing a sense of peace to an overactive mind. They are also known as the gemstone for eye protection and may bring brightness to the eyes and assist with various eye infections and diseases. They are also said to help boost the immune system and bring a sense of ease and lightness to the breath.

Opal healing qualities have also been linked to liver function and PMS, and childbirth pain. On this note, the ‘Goddess’ energy associated with opals makes them a perfect gift for expectant mothers or for women who may want help overcoming fears surrounding childbirth, conception, and pregnancy. In addition, opals are known for ridding bad dreams, so they can be especially useful for children suffering from recurring nightmares or aid poor sleep in general.

Beyond its magnetic aesthetic appeal, an opal gemstone is shrouded in symbolism. Lovers of this intriguing gemstone have gravitated towards it for centuries, not only for its obvious beauty but also for its alluring mystical benefits. At Opal Minded, we believe that an opal’s charm transcends its rainbow-coloured surface to bestow upon its wearer the gifts of transformation, protection, luck, and love.

Gift yourself or a loved one lucky opal

Setting the Benchmark for Guilt-Free Fine Jewellery

With sustainably mined Australian precious Opals

Consuming consciously is by no means a new concept. Most of us are educated on how to consume fashion in a more eco-friendly and sustainable way. However, when it comes to buying jewellery, many are still unsure of what qualifies as ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’.

As advocates of sustainable jewellery, we believe that we have a responsibility to educate our customers on the ethical practices that guide our business decisions and actions. The practices we follow go beyond the sustainability of the land we mine; they extend to the treatment of workers and the wider world in which we operate. We do no harm to people or animals at any stage of our mining or manufacturing process.

As a small local business, we mainly work with individuals or small groups of 2-5 people. Our close connection to every touchpoint allows for a transparent supply chain and better management of all of our operations. This intimate working style is characteristic of the grassroots style, Australian opal industry in general.

Our relationship with sustainability

As a traditional and conservative fine jewellery Maison, we take our connection to the earth seriously. We find meaning in our work, and this starts from the moment we dig into Australian soil and identify an opal rough deep within the ground. The rich history and storytelling that surrounds our precious opals add a unique layer to what we offer.

Our small-scale opal mining allows for an integrated ethical and sustainable approach – while resulting in minimal land damage. Where there is disruption to the land, we re-landscape and re-seed any disrupted vegetation with native seedlings. We actively rehabilitate to what we describe as the ‘gold standard’ of land rehabilitation.

Preserving the ecological balance and being in harmony with the Australian Outback is engrained in our brand DNA. Not only do we see it as our duty to mitigate any negative impact our mining operations have on the land and the environment, but we also strive to leave the land in an even better condition than when we found it.

Ethical Mining

We ensure strict health and safety regulations on the working conditions of our mines and the environmental restoration of our open-cut mines. In addition, we enjoy contributing to the local communities where our mines are located. We fund various raffle awards for children through the donation of opals and opal jewellery. We have also donated a fossicking site available 24 hours a day, next to the Jundah Museum. Anyone passing through can try their hand at opal hunting, often with wonderful results.

To help reduce our fossil fuel emissions, our solar panels enable our mining camp to run completely off-grid. In addition, we recycle all materials where possible, and we are proud to state that our camp is built entirely of recyclable materials.

Feel good about your sustainable style

We are demonstrably transparent of our gemstones’ origin and the conditions in which they are mined. If a precious opal has not been mined from one of our own mines, we provide guarantees of their ethical provenance. All of our opals remain untreated, unless stated otherwise.

We love that our sustainable jewellery transfers a unique and unmatched connection from Australian soil to its wearer. Once an opal has been mined from the ground, it is designed to bring lasting joy. At Opal Minded, we follow the philosophy of ‘quality over quantity’. Our buyers typically look for a piece of opal jewellery that they can treasure forever.

We believe offering lifetime guarantees with every opal jewellery piece we produce, attracts a more consciously-minded consumer. Investing in high-quality, sustainable fine jewellery and consuming less ‘fast jewellery’ will positively impact you as the wearer and the wider environment.

We stand for protecting the environment and strive always to tread lightly. We are continually educating ourselves on the most effective way to do this.

We adhere to the Jewellery Association of Australia (JAA) and National Council of Jewellery Valuers (NCJV) codes of ethics. Most importantly, we follow our own moral compass, a measure more powerful than any written code. As stated in our brand manifesto.

Where are Opals Found?

An Opal’s origin can reveal a lot about its quality and value. Check out our beginner’s breakdown before you buy.

Are you trying to unearth the perfect Opal?

While there may be other zones beyond Australia that have established opal mining operations, Australia boasts the world’s most brilliant supply of these fine and exquisite gemstones.

The essence of an opal is reflective of its birthplace.

We explore some of the top opal locations in Australia and identify the defining characteristics of opals found within each region.

If you’re interested in investing in an opal that aligns with your unique and discerning taste, it pays to know the value of an opal’s origin.

Did you know, while opal market is dominated by Ethiopian hydrophone opals, it is the Australian sedimentary opals that carry assured quality and value?

There is a reason that Australia is synonymous with the precious gemstone we know as opal.

Australian opal fields lie where inland seas once did. The rugged and desolate Australian outback provided unique conditions for silica-rich water to seep deep into the Earth’s cracks, initiating the epically long process of opal formation.

When you buy an opal in its glorious and final polished state, take note that your gemstone has quite literally been millions of years in the making.

How do we define a ‘precious opal’?

An opal is categorised as either ‘precious’ or ‘common’.

An opal is classified as ‘precious’ when it exhibits a unique and hypnotic play of colours – visible from all angles. A ‘common’ opal lacks this impressive colour dance. Australia and Ethiopia are the most competitive markets for producing opals with distinct colour play.

Australian precious opals are renowned for possessing the highest commercial value. By design, they have a tightly packed molecular structure. In contrast, Ethiopian opals are porous in nature, making their inherent structure less durable than a natural and untreated Australian opal.

In an attempt to match the brilliance of Australian precious opals, Ethiopian opals are often chemically treated to boost their colour intensity.

Mexican Fire Opal

If you’re exploring outside of Australia for opals, you may have come across the Mexican Fire Opal, known for its distinctive sunset colour palette. Another distinguishable characteristic of the Mexican Opal is its translucent to transparent quality. A Mexican opal consists of more water molecules than Australian opals. As such, Mexican opals lack the depth and colour vibrancy we commonly see with Australian opals.

 

Types of Australian Opals 

Due to Australia’s vast landscape and geographic diversity, it is not sufficient to categorise all opals from Australia as ‘Australian opals’. Instead, there are six varieties of precious opals we can identify.

An opal’s source location usually, yet not always, reveals its precious ‘type’. Most Australian opals can be categorised into one of the following varieties: White Opal, Black Opal, Boulder Opal, Pipe Opal, Crystal Opal, Matrix Opal.

These gemstones varieties are discovered at some of the most significant Australian opal fields – Jundah-Opalville and Winton in Queensland, Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, and Coober Pedy, located in central South Australia.

The pearlescent milky hue of the White Opal or ‘light’ Opal is often what people envisage when they think of an opal. Coober Pedy and Andamooka (South Australia) and White Cliffs field (New South Wales) are known for producing this lighter colour variety, although all opal mining areas deliver that variety in Australia.

 

The small town Lightning Ridge in New South Wales famous for the quality of its highly prized and rarefied Black Opal produces a fair quantity of the White Opal.

Recognised by its opaque canvas and magnificently layered colour saturation, The Black Opal is the rarest of all Australian opals.

The Black Opal’s dark body tone is attributed to the high manganese content found in the soil. Although the chemical compound of manganese is not common in Queensland soil, the Jundah-Opalville mine was considered the first mine to have discovered the impressive Black Opal over a century ago, before it was uncovered in Lightning Ridge.

Finding the elusive Black Opal in Jundah is much less common these days, and Lightning Ridge is considered the primary home place for this particular variety.

Jundah-blue Beauties

The precious Opal that Jundah-Opalville mine bears most plentifully is the spectacularly coloured Boulder Opal. Jundah-Opalville is the site of the largest fine Boulder Opal ever unearthed – The Galaxy Boulder Opal, found in 1989 and currently valued at two million USD (not to be confused by two other sizeable opals circulating on the Internet, also referred to as “Galaxy”).

Boulder Opals are mostly ironstone-backed, and the most valuable examples have an electric play of colour set against a dark backdrop. Boulder Opals make ideal and beautiful jewellery pieces, many with their unique undulating surface.

 

The ‘Jundah-blue’ Pipe Opal possesses a magnificent vivid blue-green colour play and is unique to Jundah-Opalville. With its rainbow colour unveiling, it is one of the rarest of all opals found in Australia.

Yowah Nuts, a small Boulder type opal, and other less known types but with equally magnetising colours are also unearthed not far from the Opalville field, in the opal mining area called… yes, you guessed it: Yowah.

There is a specific type of ‘Jundah-quality’ that set Jundah opals apart as among the best and most brilliantly coloured on the market

Jundah-Opalville is mined and operated by Opal Minded and produces a calibre of opals unrivalled anywhere else. Its reputation is such that opals possessing a particular type of colour intensity are nicknamed ‘Jundah-like’. Implying that they have a magnitude of exceptional brightness, even in very dim light.

 

A word to the wise

While scouting your perfect opal, make sure you’re aware of what opal doublets and opal triplets are.

These are ‘composite’ stones and feature a thin slice of genuine opal on the surface and then are backed by various other material or metal.

Opal triplets feature a third see-through layer on top of the opal. These are generally considered souvenir quality. There are, however, some premium opal doublets that can attract prices in the thousands. It’s important not to mistake these doublets for boulder or black opals which may be cut with their brown, black or grey base intact.

The value of solid opals and opal doublets in the same premium quality may differ considerably. Make sure you’re aware of the opal type before buying.

See why Opal Minded Opals are some of the finest in the world.
Opal Minded is the only jewellery Maison dedicated exclusively to Australian opals.

Why Opal Jewellery Is The Perfect Mother’s Day Gift

With Mother’s Day fast approaching (9th May 2021), it will soon be time to celebrate the bond with your mother, and thank her for the love and life she gave you with the Mother’s Day opal jewellery. The possibilities of expressing your gratitude are endless, yet, the most lasting impression will be invariably left by a gift of unique jewellery, a one-of-a-kind piece that expresses how extraordinary and unique your Mum’s gift of life is to you.

Virtually each cultural and religious tradition known, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or other, calls for special treatment of our mothers. In America, the tradition of Mother’s Day stretches to the end of the 19th century, when Ward Howe campaigned to recognise mothers and their peaceful contribution to the world’s history. In Australia, the tradition of Mother’s Day was inspired by Janet Hayden, a Sydney local who wanted to honour lonely and forgotten mothers. Promoting peace and support for women, Mother’s Day eventually became an occasion for family reunions, with universal appeal as it transitioned into a day for recognising all women.

Whatever the tradition, the formal Mother’s Day poses a convenient reason to present your Mum with a gift she will never forget and will be able to carry off proudly reminding her always how much you love her.

 

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

With Mother’s Day gift ideas, it is the sentiment that is most important. However, if you are searching for Mother’s Day gifts with deep meaning that will be treasured forever, then Australian opal jewellery makes the perfect gesture. After all, only in Australia are the world’s highest quality, and rarest opals found. At Opal Minded, we specialise in unique, one-of-a-kind and bespoke pieces with Australian precious opals at their centre, many from our own opal mines and all designed by our in-house designer, gemmologist and valuer, Dr Renata Bernard.

 

Opal Pendants

Our journey looking at Mother’s Day gifts begins with opal pendants:

CarmenLove is a rebellious bird: A pendant with an opal doublet (13.04ct) that displays a beautiful play of colours with a blend of greens, yellows, and reds on top of an ocean of deep vibrant blue. This Mother’s Day pendant features two 18K yellow gold hanging arches trimmed with diamonds (0.211ct) to create an equally joyous and exuberant piece.

CleopatraMusic for us that trade in love: This black opal (11.91ct) pendant recognises the most powerful woman of all history. The Egyptian queen, known for her legendary love affair with Roman general and statesman Mark Antony, brings inspiration to this piece and conjures images of mysterious sarcophaguses and ancient scriptures. This Lightning Ridge opal is a wonderment of greens and blues, suspended from a delicate chain of 18K white gold, with a pyramid of diamonds (0.19ct) bridging the gap between chain and pendant.

 

Mother’s Day Opal Rings

Next, we highlight opal rings that make wonderful Mother’s Day gifts:

Forever TogetherWe can be together all the time: The loving bond with your mother can never be broken, and this ring celebrates that sentiment with a spellbinding combination of black opal (1.57ct) from Lightning Ridge, with its flashes of fiery reds and yellows, and 18K yellow gold.

SerendipityThe past is always tense, the future perfect: This opal ring is a hallmark of elegance with a stunning boulder opal (0.83ct) found in a Winton opal field, clasped in 18K pure white gold.

 

Mother’s Day Opal Earrings

Earrings have always made superb Mother’s Day gifts:

Angel Of The WatersThe angels are nearer than you think: A mesmerising colour-play is shown off here with a blue-green boulder opals (4.19ct) from Winton. This elegant piece of jewellery encompasses a white and yellow gold chalice to create a look that any sophisticated urbanite will appreciate, especially if her heart was touched by the spirit of New York. The matching pendant also available.

Sea ChangeAnd I was glad that in the shade she could not discern a tide: With echoes of the deep blue waters of the Great Barrier Reef, boulder matrix opals (25.89ct) caressed by the waves of 18K white gold and diamonds (0.105ct). Worn anywhere and for any occasion, these precious opals were delivered by our own opal mine in Judah-Opalville.

 

Mother’s Day Opal Bracelets

Our range of Mother’s Day gifts wouldn’t be complete with an opal bracelet:

VorfreudeIn front of joy: This is a cuff bracelet with a boulder opal (0.73ct) characterised by an intensive blue and brown natural gemstone. The bold use of sterling silver makes this bracelet perfect for a confident mother and makes a stylish addition to any outfit.

 

Australian Opal jewellery is unquestionably the perfect Mother’s Day gift. The small selection of pieces in this blog is only a tiny proportion of you could find for your Mum at Opal Minded. Our collections encompasses opal rings, opal pendants and earrings in all sizes, colours and of assured quality.

What we do not have, and you can imagine, we can make with an opal from our vast selection of unset opal gems. For a curated selection of one-of-a-kind precious opal pieces or unset opal gems to your specifications, contact us at consultation@opalminded.com.
Our gemmologists and designer will get back to you to start the journey your Mother will never forget.