Opals: the captivating chameleons of the high jewellery world

With no two opals the same, this fascinating coloured gemstone with its magical play of fire continues to top the popularity charts.

Louis Vuitton Acte V/The Escape Capri ring top view

By Åse Anderson 

The shimmering opal is the perfect coloured gemstone to add a sense of drama to high jewellery collections. The recent revival of Australian opals has catapulted this extraordinary gemstone into its well-deserved spotlight. The most valuable of all are black opals, which are found in Lighting Ridge in New South Wales and have a colour that encapsulates all seven hues of the rainbow. No two opals are the same - a fact that only serves to make the stone and its magical play of fire all the more appealing to jewellery designers. 

When the latest high jewellery collections were unveiled in Paris in July during Paris Couture Week, we were treated once again to an abundance of opal jewellery from esteemed Maisons including Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Chopard.

Inspired by the world’s most luxurious travel destinations, the unashamedly glamorous Acte V/The Escape collection from Louis Vuitton pairs black Australian opals with white diamonds, which further accentuate the stone’s iridescent colour. The Capri suite, which includes a one-of-a-kind opal ring and matching Louis Vuitton earrings, brings to mind the electrifying colour of the sea in the Blue Grotto, Capri’s famous underwater cave. 

Read about the latest Louis Vuitton high jewellery collection here

Cartier has also looked to the ever-shifting colour palette of the deep blue sea for inspiration for its new high jewellery collection, Étourdissant. From the dazzling azure blue reflected in the sun’s rays as they hit the water, to the sea’s deepest, darkest velvety depths and the light grey rocks protruding from the surface, the kaleidoscope of the Riviera comes to life in some intoxicating pieces of opal jewellery that are instantly recognisable as Cartier. From multi-hued black opals set into rings, earrings and bracelets to creamy cabochon-cut Ethiopian opals, this Cartier jewellery collection showcases the extensive colour spectrum of this magnificent stone. 

Read more about the Cartier Étourdissant high jewelry collection

Finally, a new Chopard jewellery collection of six sublime opal rings celebrates the mysterious beauty of the black opal in flamboyant floral settings, studded with sapphires, amethysts, tsavorites, rubies, spinels and black diamonds. The centre stones in this colourful garden of opal flowers were sourced from the Aurora Gems opal mine, an Australian family-owned business, founded in 1962, that manages every step of the process in-house, from mining and polishing to selling the opals. The first three Chopard rings unveiled at Paris Couture Week featured opals surrounded by gem-encrusted mobile petals crafted from ultra-light titanium or zirconium, with the latter material making its very first appearance in the Swiss brand’s high jewellery collections. 

Dreamily romantic, yet dangerously captivating, the opal is a true chameleon of a gemstone that continues to enthral us with its beauty and power. 

Read about Ethiopian opals here

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