The opal

The opal is an atypical stone that invites fantastic dreams and stories. By tilting our gaze on her, we appropriate it, we imagine a world, a landscape, according to the lighting which sublimate it.

The fantastic changing game of the opal is a reflection of the variations of emotions and states of mind of people. To each his opal, their mood, their vision of things. The opals are like the emotions of man: always different and always new. Philippe Tournaire particularly likes this character stone, which awakens our curiosity and charms us with its enigmatic and unexpected beauty.
In many cases, when we think "opal", we think first of all of the superstitions that it stems from it, which are sometimes at a pejorative connotation.

In reality, we will see through the explanations that will follow that the opal is considered to be the bearer of hope, love and purity for many peoples, and this since the dawn of time. All that nature can offer splendor seems to be gathered in the lush and varied reflections of a quality opal: fire, lightning in the colors of the rainbow and the sweet shine of the southern seas. Generating many legends and superstitions, this surprising stone knows a changing reputation through ages and cultures.

OPAL: Small technical sheet and manipulation advice

Opal Age : Scientists believe that most opal deposits have been made between 15 and 30 million years ago.

Opal crystalline formula: Sio2, NH2O. The opal is a hydrated silicon dioxide and has no crystal structure.

Hardness : 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale. For information, the Mohs scale is a scale invented by the mineralogist Mohs and which aims to measure the harshness of a gem, that is to say its ability to resist stripes. Presentation: The Mohs scale goes from 1 to 10, the diamond having a hardness of 10, and the dry soap and the talc a hardness of 1.

Opal cleaning : Gently massage it with a slightly damp cloth.

Precautions: Like all beautiful things, the opal requires that we take care of it. Sudden temperature changes can cause the opal a cracking, which is made up of water. So beware of sudden passages from hot to cold, as when cleaning ultrasound.

Opal derivatives: There are synthetic opals on the market but also doublets and triplets, generally composed of a thin layer of opal, synthetic or not. What distinguishes a real opal from a false is the degree of uniformity of the reflections of colors. Looking at the profile stone, if we see columns of abnormally uniform colors, it is a false opal. Also, if we look at it from above, the natural opal shows reflections of colors in the shape of combs, while the false opal will show reflections in the shape of alveols of bee nests which are also similar to snake skin.

The opal, water and color fire

This "puzzling stone" as Philippe Tournaire calls him, was formed during sea level variations, the latter filling the cracks and cavities of the deposit plot such as the silica gel. The opal is composed between 3 and 30% of water and must therefore be handled with care. It is indeed a hydrated silicate which has the particularity of revealing reflections in the colors of the rainbow: like a drop of essence on the water. This is what makes all its singularity. When such a play of colors takes place, we then speak of a precious noble or opal opal. This irritation of their own comes from the absorption and return of colors by silica microbeads that make up the opal. The more the said balls are distributed uniformly, the more intense the color play. In the opposite, when the balls have a hazardous arrangement, no game of sparkling colors appears. We then speak of a common opal. Hence the singularity and the rarity of this stone with extraordinary reflections. The play of colors of the opals is always very different, depending on the color of the stone and the way in which light plays with it. Thus, there are several types of reflections, known by names such as "Arlequin", "Peacock tail", "the flash", "small points" ...

The value of an opal

We judge an opal according to beauty criteria which are specific to everyone, according to their tastes and according to what the opal inspires us. On a more technical level, the opal is judged according to 5 very distinct factors: the type of opal, the intensity of its color play, transparency, clarity and size. Diamonds and opal trilogy pendant.

The different faces of the opal

The opal can take any form and experience many different names. The 4 largest varieties of opals are listed below:


The Black Opal
The Black Opal can deploy a beautiful set of intense colors, on a dark background. Comes from Lightning Ridge, New South Wales in Australia, which is the world's leading source of Opale. It is also found in Queensland - northeast of Australia - and in South Australia. This opal is one of the most coveted and rare in the world.

The Boulder opal
The Boulder opal (The Opal-Roche) is the one that suggests a border of sparkling colors, between brown layers that constitute the Mother of the Opal. This mothers rock can be either sandstone (Sandstone) or a rock composed of iron oxide (ironstone). The contrast between La Roche Mère and the Opal veins reinforces the intensity of its colors. The only place in the world where the Boulder opals are extracted is the county of Winton in Queensland.

The white opal
The white opal or called opal is transparent. It is the best known in the general public because it is much more frequent and easy to find, compared to the high -end opal such as the Black Opal, whose radiance is often more lively. It is found in Mintabie, Coober Pedy and Andamooka in South Australia as well as White Cliffs in New South Wales.

The Opal of Fire
The Opal of Fire is a bright orange opal which does not necessarily show a set of colors. It can be cut with facets, while the opals with color play are often cut in cabochon or even keep their original shape to keep as much effect as possible. It is mainly found in Mexico, in the States of Querétaro and Sonora, as well as in Mexico City. About around 90%, the opals come from Australia. This country therefore produces the majority of black, white and boulder opals. Over time, the opal has never stopped fascinating cultures around the world. And each country has a very special relationship with this bewitching stone. It is the journey of opals through the ages and continents that constitutes its history, oh so extraordinary. Pendant with 3 opals

The opal through the ages

The origin of the term opal comes from the Sanskrit "Upala" meaning "precious stone". Later the Greeks named it "Opallios", meaning "seeing a color change". The opal has always been honored by the Orientals, which entitled it "anchor of hope". In ancient Greece, the opals were as estimated as the diamonds. And it was assigned the gift of predicting the future. In ancient Rome, it was named "the queen of gems" because she had in her all the colors of other gems. The opal embodied for them the symbol of hope, purity and love. They positioned her in 2nd row after the emerald, in terms of value.
In the Middle Ages, the opal was used to treat eye-related diseases and later blond women used to wear hair accessories with inlaid opals, believing that these magic stones would prevent their beautiful hair from becoming gray. The crown of the Holy Roman Emperor contained a breathtaking opheal, called "Orphanus". It was said that she retained the honor of the Empire. At the end of 18th - early 19th century, the opal was also part of the crown jewels in France and Hungary. Napoleon offered the Empress Joséphine "the Trojan fire", a magnificent opal with luminous red reflections.

The Oples of the Treasury of the Hofburg in Austria are also famous: among these is the large collection of Princess Stéphanie de Belgique: belts, bracelets, earrings, pins and necklaces in opal. The collection of Queen Victoria is no less famous. Sovereign of Australia, homeland of the most remarkable black opals, the queen had access to the most prestigious stones. She brought it throughout her reign and offered her friends and daughters and granddaughters, advocating the symbolism of love and purity suggested the opal. It became much sought after because the royal court of England was then considered the model in terms of fashion worldwide.

In the 19th century still, although considered a lucky charm by the Queen, the opal was given a completely different reputation on the French side. Several theories would explain this phenomenon.
The most plausible being as follows: the lapidarians and sheds of the 19th century were penalized if they caused the damage to the stones by rising them. This having happened to them several times by manipulating the opal, they believed that this gem was ausal and therefore synonymous with bad luck. The popularity of the opal was however little by little rehabilitated, among other things, thanks to leading characters such as Queen Victoria, and the famous French actress Sarah Bernhardt, who carried sumptuous opals when she interpreted Cleopatra in 1890. Fortunately, too, a discovery in 1902 in New South Wales in Australia made it possible to overshadow this dark opinion of the opal. In Lightning Ridge, minors have come out of the ground a brand new form of precious opal: the black opal. The opal market then experienced a new well -deserved boom. A few years later, the opals experienced their golden age during the Art Deco period (from 1920 to 1939): the artists creating models gave them preference on many stones, because of their discreet charm.

Since the dawn of time and even today, the opal has been a puzzling stone that is not likely to sin in oblivion. It evokes for many a full stone with innumerable virtues. Legend or reality, everyone free to believe it. Anyway, the various legends relating to the opal and its virtues reinforce the fact that this puzzling stone will always remain present in the minds of those who admire it. For 40 years, Philippe Tournaire has been using the opal through timeless jewelry creations that highlight this exceptional stone.

As such, the Tournaire team offers discovery workshops of the opal during which sublime opals are presented and can give rise to creations of Personalized jewelry.

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