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Antique Australian Black Opal Aborigine Desert Fire Maya Aztec Bird of Paradise #31616

Cost: $ 169.99


Antique 1920's Rare Genuine Black "Lightening Ridge" Australian Opal Oval Semi-Precious Gemstone! Contemporary High Quality Sterling Silver Ring (Size 7 – Resizing Available).

ORIGIN: Lightening Ridge, New South Wales, Australia. Early 20th Century.

SIZE: Length: 7mm. Width: 5mm. All measurements approximate.

WEIGHT: 0.35 carats.

NOTE: Resizing is available. If you would prefer a different setting style, odds are we have many different setting styles available which would fit this stone(s) which could be substituted for no or very little additional cost. 14kt solid gold settings are also available. Write us for pictures and prices.

NOTE: If you would like only the gemstone, and not the setting, we can dismount the gemstone and offer you the gemstone without the setting. Just let us know, and yes, we’ll discount the price by the cost of the setting.

DETAIL:
According Australian Aborigine legends, the creator came down to Earth on a rainbow, and at the very spot, where his foot touched the ground, the stones became alive and started sparkling in all the colors of the rainbow. That was the birth of the opals, also known as the “fire of the desert”. In the ancient world, the Mayas and Aztecs called opal the “bird of paradise stone”. In the classical Mediterranean World, it was thought that opals were actually bits of rainbows which had fallen from the skies. Ancient Greeks, amongst many other ancient cultures, thought opals gave their owner the gift of prophecy and foresight, and prevented diseases. Early Persians and Arabs believed opals fell from the heavens in flashes of lightning (which accounted for their fiery play-of-color), and when worn as a talisman, would protect against lightening strikes. Celebrating this cultural inheritance we offer an absolutely gorgeous, natural "black" opal from Australia originally produced in the 1920's. This is a very uncommon gemstone, difficult to procure. The world's entire production of gemstone quality black opal comes from one claim in Australia known as "Lightening Ridge". This gemstone was originally solid black opal, however it was so thin that a backing was added so as to strengthen the gemstone and reduce its fragility. For those unfamiliar with black opal, it is somewhat akin to, if you will image, black abalone mother of pearl - which is to say, mother of pearl with a black background. Even without direct light, there is a green-blue-violet iridescence to the black color. Then the transformation when struck by full light can be simply breathtaking, as the illumination transforms the opals into a stunning iridescent rainbow of incredibly striking colors and luminescence.

The more expensive and high grade (up to $20,000 a carat) opals are almost psychedelic in their transfixing pattern of iridescent coloration. The gemstone was hand crafted and faceted by a Russian artisan, following in the footsteps of a centuries-old heritage renown for the production of the elaborate gemstones and jewelry of the Czars of Medieval, Renaissance, and Victorian Russia. The setting is of contemporary origin. It is a high quality setting manufactured by one of the USA’s leading semi-custom mount producers. It is constructed of solid sterling silver. We do have the ability to have the ring sent out for resizing if requested. There are many other ring styles available, if you would like to see them, just contact us, we would be happy to share them with you. Most other setting styles in sterling silver are available at no additional cost. Additionally, if preferred, this mounting (as well as a wide variety of ring settings in other appealing styles) are also available in 14kt solid gold.

As might be expected under magnification the gemstone shows the unmistakable characteristics of having been hand crafted. The coarseness of the handcrafted finish is considered appealing to most gemstone collectors, and is not considered a detriment, or detract from the value of a gemstone. Naturally these characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, most serious collectors consider such gemstones more desirable, possessed of greater character and uniqueness when compared to today's cookie-cutter mass-produced machine-tumbled gemstones. Unlike today’s computer controlled machine produced gemstones, the cut and finish of gemstones such as these is the legacy of a artisanal heritage passed forward from centuries past. Such hand-crafted gemstones possess much greater character and appeal than today's mass-produced machine-cut gemstones. 

Handcrafted though it may be the gemstone has great luster and character, but that is not to imply that it is absolutely flawless. True, the blemishes it possesses are virtually invisible to the naked eye, and to the view of the casual admirer the gemstone is indeed seemingly without blemish. However in the accompanying photo enlargements you might be able to discern a few minute blemishes as well as occasional irregularities in the cut and finish. Of course the same may said about almost any natural gemstone. An absolutely flawless gemstone simply is not the rule in nature. Most absolutely flawless gemstones will upon close examination be revealed to be synthetic. Furthermore these characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, you must also consider that in times past the mining techniques even possible, let alone in practice, did not allow the ultra deep mining operations which are so commonplace today.

Keep in mind that even in the fairly recent past mankind was more or less limited to surface deposits or near surface deposits of gemstones. Higher quality gemstones which today are routinely mined from beneath hundreds of meters, even kilometers beneath the earth's surface, were simply inaccessible then. It is precisely for these reasons antique gemstone must be appreciated as antiques first, gemstones second. The relatively superlative quality of contemporary gemstones mined from deep beneath the earth's surface were simply not accessible in times past, or at least, only rarely so. However for most, the unique nature and character of these antique gemstones more than makes up for the blemishes found within the gemstones, as well as the cutting and finishing irregularities common to handcrafted gemstones, all of which are by and large are only visible under magnification.

OPAL HISTORY: The original ancient source of opal gemstones, known in Roman times, was in what is now East Slovakia perhaps as long ago as the sixth millennia B.C. Archaeological evidence indicates that opals were also mined in Ethiopia starting around 400 B.C. Opal was considered a “noble” gemstone in the ancient world and was ranked second only to emerald by the Romans, who sometimes referred to opal as the "cupid stone". The Romans also referred to opal as “the queen of gems” because it embodied the colors of all the other gems. According to other Roman sources, the opal was considered the ultimate in gemstones, due to its mysterious and iridescent qualities. Opals were used in the Roman world for jewelry and were also carved as cameos.

The Roman scholar and historian Pliny (23-79 A.D.) in his 37-volume work, "Historia Naturalis", described opal as having "the fire of the garnet, the brilliant purple of the amethyst, and the sea-green of the emerald all shining together in incredible union". Pliny related in his accounts that Mark Antony (Julius Caesar’s “lieutenant”, eventually Cleopatra’s husband) loved opal, and so much coveted an opal owned by Roman Senator Nonius that Mark Antony banished the Senator, exiling him from Rome, after he refused to sell the almond sized stone. Legend states that one Roman Emperor offered to trade one-third of his vast kingdom for a single opal. Worn as a talisman, the Romans believed that opal had to power to cure disease, and also considered opal to be a token of hope and purity.

Elsewhere in the ancient world, the early Arabs believed opals fell from the heavens in flashes of lightning that gave them their fiery play-of-color, and that wearing opal as a talisman would protect one from lightening strikes. In the classical Mediterranean World, it was thought that opals were actually bits of rainbows which had fallen from the skies. Ancient Greeks, amongst many other ancient cultures, thought opals gave their owner the gift of prophecy and foresight, and prevented diseases. The Mayas and Aztecs called opal the “bird of paradise stone”. According Australian Aborigine legends, the creator came down to Earth on a rainbow, and at the very spot, where his foot touched the ground, the stones became alive and started sparkling in all the colors of the rainbow. That was the birth of the opals, also known as the “fire of the desert”.

Opals maintained tremendous popularity throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. For a while in the 18th and 19th centuries, opals were considered to be amongst the world's most desirable gemstones, and literally a king's ransom was on occasion paid for a particularly handsome specimen. Opal was also regarded as the patron gemstone of thieves, because it was believed that wrapped in bay leaf, it would confer invisibility. Black opal was considered to be a particularly effective in attracting good luck, and fire opal was believed to attract wealth. Opal was also believed to be an effective talisman for those seeking true love. Women with blond hair wore opal earrings and hair ornaments, believing it would keep their hair from going gray.

Opals were also ground up and used as magic potions to heal the body and ward off bad dreams. Renaissance-era mystics believed that opal could conduct the energies of the planet Venus through the gemstone, focusing those energies to the wearer. The original ancient Greco-Roman source of “Hungarian Opals” had been producing opal for perhaps 8,000 years before falling out of favor with the discovery of gemstones of much higher quality in Australia. From that time forward, Australian opals came to dominate the market. Somewhere between 90% and 95% of the world’s gem-quality opal now originates in Australia.

The name "opal" is derived from the Latin "opallus", and from Sanskrit "upala", both of which translate to "precious stone"; as well as perhaps from the ancient Greek opallios, meaning “to see a change of color”. Opals are generally divided into two groups, white and black. Both share the similar appearance where a spectrum of colors can be seen in the depths of the stone. Black opal, with a body color from a dark gray to black, containing within the full play of iridescent colors, is the most valuable variety of all. Opals are most abundant in volcanic rocks, especially in areas of hot-spring activity. Opal forms in sedimentary rocks when silica-rich water slowly seeps into the host rock, filling seams and cracks. If the water then hits a non porous layer of rock that stops its progress, and the silica-laden water then sits for thousands of years deep within the earth, the silica will settle and eventually form a solid gel, trapping the remaining water within its structure. It becomes opal.

In Australia, this happened about 60 million years ago in the Cretaceous Period, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and much of Australia was covered by a vast inland sea. One of the chief characteristics of the opal is the brilliant play of colors that may be seen in superior stones. These colors result from the formation of minute fissures in the stone as it hardens and the deposition of additional opal in the fissures. The refractive qualities of the original stone and the additional deposits usually differ from one another, and result in light interference causing a play of colors. The milky color of many white opals is attributable to an abundance of tiny gas-filled cavities in them. Black opal, with a very dark gray or blue to black body color, is particularly rare and highly prized.

The real appeal of opals, of course, is the rich iridescence and remarkable play of changing colors (as the gemstone is viewed from different angles), usually in red, green, and blue. Modern electron microscope studies have shown that opal is composed of numerous minute silica spheres from 0.0001 mm to 0.0005 mm in diameter, arranged in orderly rows and layers. The play of colors in precious opal arises from the three-dimensional diffraction of light from these submicroscopic layers of regularly oriented silica spheres. Throughout the history of the ancient world, gemstones were believed capable of curing illness and providing protection. Found in Egypt dated 1500 B. C., the "Papyrus Ebers" offered one of most complete therapeutic manuscripts containing prescriptions using gemstones and minerals. Gemstones were not only valued for their medicinal and protective properties, but also for educational and spiritual enhancement.

In the ancient world opals were thought to amplify one's personality traits and characteristics. They were believed to strengthen memory and to instill faithfulness and loyalty with respect to love, personal and business relationships. Opals were regarded as a stone of hope, positive actions and achievements. Opals had medicinal uses including possessing strong therapeutic value for diseases of the eye, and when worn as an amulet, it was believed to provide the wearer with immunity from disease as well as increase the powers of the eyes and the mind. Furthermore, many believed that to the extent the colors of red and green were seen, the wearer would also enjoy the therapeutic powers of those stones; the power to stop bleeding from the ruby, or the power to cure diseases from the emerald.

Opals were used to treat infections and fevers, and were regarded effective in purifying blood and kidneys, regulating insulin, and easing both childbirth and menstrual symptoms. Opal was worn so as to strengthen the immune system and the body’s resistance to infection. On the metaphysical plane opal was believed to amplify traits, whether good or bad, and to bring characteristics to the surface for transformation. It was believed to enhance confidence and self-esteem, improve memory, and to help the wearer comprehend their full potential. It also was thought to bring create lightness and spontaneity, to stimulate originality and dynamic creativity, and encourage an interest in the arts. Opal was also associated with love and passion, as well as desire and eroticism; a seductive stone that intensified emotional states, released inhibitions, drove away shyness and shame, and encouraged sexual liberation. And as opal represented justice and harmony, it was regarded an effective talisman in dangerous places. Last, opal was used by shamans to aid in recalling past lives.
 

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