When we speak of White Opal, we’re actually talking about opals that have a light body color – usually white or cream or ivory or even yellow – with vibrant plays of color. These opals are the most widely used in fine jewelry, and thus, are the most well-known. They hail from Australia, with a heavy concentration mined in Coober Pedy, where they’ve been finding opals for more than 100 years (not much more, as it was 1915; but still…) Dubbed “The Opal Capital of the World,” this teensy town in South Australia has been providing the rest of the world with most of its gem-quality opals, ever since.
The ancient Romans believed that opals were a source of hope and good fortune. New Age folks will tell you that white opals channels angelic connections. Furthermore, white opal is said to act as an emotional palate-cleanser, by identifying and releasing negativity, thereby making room for some vibes that are decidedly groovier. I don’t know about all that, but they do put a smile on my face.
No doubt, some jewelry snobs will tell you that black opal is the only way to go; but as the pieces displayed above handily prove, there is no shame in the white opal game.
Get into it!
CREDITS: (clockwise from top left)
Boghossian – Ballet Oriental “L’Arabesque” ring of 18k gold, featuring a round Columbian emerald (6.11cts), Paraiba tourmaline (1.48cts), demantoid garnets (.28cts), and diamond melees (1.51cts), set in a round white opal (23.14cts)
Chopard - Red Carpet Collection opal drop earrings featuring 62 white opals (33.00cts), set in 18k white gold (Cate Blanchett wore these to the Academy Awards in 2014)
Katherine Jetter – “Madame Butterfly” ring set in 18 k gold with hand-carved solid white opal flower petals (19.00cts) and Mandarin garnet center (2.33cts), surrounded by diamonds (3.50cts) – $30,000
Arunashi – Necklace of 18k blackened gold featuring one emerald (3.18cts), one white opal (7.41cts) 101 pearls (8.14cts), 23 opals (.98cts), 92 rose-cut diamonds (4.03cts), 986 diamonds (10.57cts), and emerald beads (65.00cts) – $118,500
Pamela Froman – OOAK “Ombre Opal” Cleopatra-inspired scroll ring, in “crushed” 18k gold and pink gold, with diamond-set scroll (.07cts), featuring a white Coober Pedy opal (2.60cts), framed with diamond pave (0.16cts) – $9,300
Verdura – “No. 78 Cuff” of black jade with 18k white gold hinges, set with a large cushion-cut antique opal, surrounded with 24 old mine-cut diamonds (7.70cts)
Chaumet – Tiara featuring a cabochon white opal (21.14cts), Burmese ruby (3.14cts), and diamonds, set in platinum
David Webb – Ring featuring a cabochon white opal (21.56cts), brilliant-cut diamonds (3.18cts), set in 18k gold, platinum, and green enamel
Chanel – Bague Constellation du Lion “Opale Blanche” ring, featuring a sculpted white opal, with a brilliant-cut diamond (1.5cts) and 141 brilliant-cut diamonds (1.90cts), set in 18k white gold
Chopard - Fleurs d’Opales ring in rhodiumed 18k white gold and titanium, featuring a white opal (14.00cts), set with diamonds, demantoid garnets, yellow sapphires, and tsavorites
Stephen Webster – “Magnipheasant” bracelet in 18k gold, with white opals (46.36cts), tipped with diamonds (1.53cts) – $47,330