One of our favourite gemstones on The Jewellery Editor, it just so happens that opals are the birthstone of October, which is the perfect excuse to look at some of the standout designs of the year featuring this mysterious gem famous for its neon-bright colours.
Read about the stories behind birthstones
Alessio Boschi introduced us to some of his latest high jewellery creations at Baselworld 2015, including extensions to his exotic Plumes collection. Inspired by the peacock feather, his Plumes necklace was among our favourite statement necklaces from 2014, and the new earring and pendant necklace are the perfect showcase for rare black opals from Lightning Ridge in Australia. Look closely at the opals in the Plume earring and you could be observing Earth from outer space, with clusters of green and turquoise swimming in a sea of blue.
Black opals also star in a one-of-a-kind suite from Tiffany's latest Blue Book Collection, which form the centerpiece in a dramatic opal ring and earrings, accompanied by green tourmalines and blue aquamarines.
One of the standout pieces shown by Mikimoto at Baselworld was the Legend necklace, which contrasts a shimmering grey baroque South Sea pearl with a tumbled water opal - a rare variety of opal renowned for its transparency. The imperfect shapes of the gems are mirrored in their settings, with white gold vines wrapping themselves around the pearl and encircling the opal in a tangle of diamonds.
Australian jewellery designer Katherine Jetter has made it her mission to champion the opal - Australia's national gemstone - in the world of fine jewellery. A large, neon-streaked Australian Boulder opal - the second most valuable opal after black opals - draws you in to her new Marquis ring, the baroque, peaked shape of the gem mirrored in the contours of the brushed gold, with pavé rubies picking out the flashes of red within.
By contrast, white Australian opals - a softer alternative to black opals - appear in some of the season's easiest-to-wear opal jewellery. With feathers of milky white gemstones set into rose gold, the opal bracelet from Stephen Webster's Magnipheasant collection is one of his most feminine jewels to date. Other pieces of opal jewellery to covet this season are Sutra's impossibly pretty earrings, which pair white opals with diamonds, and iKuria's mismatched opal earrings.