The World's Most Useful
Gem & Jewelry Monthly Newsletter
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Usable Gems... and a little opinion.
October Birthstone Is
The October birthstone is opal.
This month we continue our
series on birthstones that will provide answers to questions like...
if I don't like the color of my birthstone?"
"What if I can't afford my birthstone?"
A great deal can be told about opal just by defining some
commonly applied opal terms...
First is what I'll call precious opal. A precious
exhibits several colors in a display known as
play of color. This is what most people visualize when they think of
Play of color, or fire refers to the flashes of rainbow colors seen as
a precious opal is moved.
||Click on the box...
and have Google start putting money in your bank account!
Flash opal refers to a stone where flashes of color appear and
disappear at various spots as the gem is moved back and forth.
In a harlequin opal the color display is in angular patches,
all in contact with each other like a mosaic.
In a pinfire opal the color is in the form of tiny dots, set
In a peacock opal many colors appear in the same gem
resembling the display of the tail of the male peacock.
Boulder opal is a thin layer of
precious opal naturally adhering to brown ironstone host rock.
Jelly opal looks like jelly and exhibits play of color.
Mexican opal, or fire opal is transparent to
translucent red or orange.
These stones may also come from Brazil.
The name refers to body color. Most of these
stones do not exhibit play of color.
Are you confused yet? For clarity,
we'll avoid the term "fire opal" entirely from here on.
Peruvian opal is a nearly translucent blue or pink stone found
in Peru. It lacks play of color because the silica spheres are arranged
Common opal is a low quality form of opal... no play of color, and no beauty. One variety of common opal is called potch opal.
Assembled opal refers to natural opal affixed to other
materials. Doublets and triplets are assembled opals. Why have assembled
opals? For strength as a jewelry stone... and for affordability.
A doublet contains a slice of precious opal glued to a base of
common opal, glass or other material. A triplet contains a slice
of precious opal glued between a base and a quartz crystal or glass top.
It's hard not to like the color of opal, the October birthstone. The
gem is unique because opal offers many colors at once.
Opal occurs in several basic body colors, such as pink,
blue, black, and white. In addition, precious opal exhibits that optical phenomena known as
play of color .
This type of opal is made up of microscopic spheres (150 to 300
nanometers) of silica with water trapped between the spheres.
The amount of water is small... between 3 and 20 per cent, according
to the accepted gemology literature. Opals should never be allowed to freeze
or dry out. In the case of solid opal, an occasional light rinsing
in fresh water is recommended by this same gemology literature.
The October birthstone is opal, and opal is beautiful.
I have several nice triplet opals in stock at the moment. Send
me an email to get details on several that are ready to ship.
A Google search for the keyword phrase opal jewelry returns a number of listings and ads for vendors specializing
in production run jewelry pieces.
Gem Industry News...
Business As Usual After Coup
According to reports from gem industry members on the scene, the
recent coup in Thailand has had negligible effect on the gem industry in
that Southeast Asian country.
Coups are common in Thailand, although this is the first in about 15
years. Between 1971 and 1992, there have been nine coups in Thailand.
One gem trader described the military takeover of the government as
"almost a non-event."
Many in the gem and jewelry industry were recently in Bangkok
attending the Bangkok Gems & Jewellery Fair, which was held September
The Thai military said Tuesday night it had dismissed the government
of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the controversial
telecommunications tycoon turned politician, and declared martial
after surrounding the Government House with tanks and troops in what the
media is reporting as a bloodless coup. Shinawatr was in New York
attending a United Nations meeting. He is now in London.
Thai army chief, Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, who orchestrated the
coup, promised on Wednesday, in a national address, that the military
has no political or economic interests and plans to return power to the
He promised to step down in two weeks, saying he would appoint
an interim premier to run the country until parliamentary elections are
held under a new constitution in October 2007. Thai King Bhumibol
Adulyadej, who has a great deal of influence in the country, said he
supports the coup.
building inventory? Christmas is coming fast.
It's easier to sell a piece of jewelry than a loose stone and a
mounting from a picture.
The price of gold is still around $600 per
ounce, so if you weren't able to hedge by buying up gold mountings and
findings a couple of years ago, you probably should now be buying what you
need now... as you need it.
Platinum is at an amazing $1144 per ounce. So if you're like
us, you're not selling much platinum jewelry.
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