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A Celestial Gemstone: The Black Opal

27 March 20

Here, we explore the exquisite black opal and its unique place within our jewellery collections.

A 10-hour drive from the Gold Coast, Australia and you’ll come across a town called “Lightening Ridge” – the only place on earth that produces the most valued of all opals; the precious black opal.

The popularity of the opal dates back to the Roman Empire and has been a favourable stone for European Royalty. Ancient Greeks believed opals were the solidified tears of Zeus and could bestow the ability of foresight and prophecy upon the owner.

An opal is formed inside sedimentary rock – when water mixes with rock in the Earth’s surface depositing layers of minerals within the cracks and cavities to form gemstones. This cycle repeats continuously over extensive time periods, until the opals we know today are formed.

The beautiful colour variation in an opal is known as opalescence, consisting of iridescent colour flashes throughout the stone, adding a somewhat magical reflection and depth to each one. This colour spectrum, particularly in a black opal, contains a wide variety of colours from deep intense blues to iridescent greens, golden oranges to vibrant reds and stunning fuchsia. This precious stone is like no other gemstone; it has a unique ability to change its colour as the wearer turns or moves the stone. Unlike other opals, black opals have carbon and iron oxide trace element which causes the unusual darkness of the stone. It is this dark body tone which makes a black opal more vibrant than perhaps a lighter opal options and this characteristic is what sets them aside as the most valuable form of opal today.

Throughout more recent history it was noted that Queen Elizabeth, for example, is often thought to love opals and has been pictured throughout her reign wearing them, particularly throughout her post-Coronation tour. The Andamooka Opal, also known as the ‘Queens Opal’, was presented to her on her visit to south Australia in 1954 and is thought to be the finest opal ever discovered in southern Australia.  The opals set amongst this suite are considered so famous due to their intense colour and exceptional size, 203ct.

At Prestons, each of our showrooms are delighted to offer a fine selection of black opals, particularly throughout our bespoke jewellery collections. Here, each gemstone has been hand-chosen by our highly talented jewellery designer, Katrina Young, and each design is hand-sketched and rendered to create our distinctive collections. 

Our first collection featuring these celestial gemstones is The Planets Collection. Here, each black opal has been set with an assortment of white diamonds, depending on the specific jewellery piece, to add contrast, depth and feminine detail to each.

Necklaces & Pendants

In The Planets Collection there is, at present, one distinctive pendant. The pendant, named Astraea, symbolises the Titan Goddess of shooting stars and dreams, a symbol of purity and precision. Here, a 5.57ct Australian black opal is set with 1.64ct of baguette cut white diamonds and 0.78ct round brilliant cut white diamonds, graded as D-E colour and VS clarity.

Dress & Cocktail Rings

The principal pieces within this collection are three hand-chosen black opal dress or cocktail rings. The first is an exceptional 4.42ct cabochon Australian black opal hand-chosen for its wealth of colour. This particular dress ring has been delicately set with 24 white diamond baguette cut diamonds in platinum.

The second an 8.46ct Australian black opal, chosen for its playful display of vibrant blues and greens, and natural opalescence. This distinctive dress ring has been hand-set with round brilliant cut white diamond celestial rings and finished with shoulders of blue sapphire and green tsavorite shoulders.

The final dress ring is arguably the most distinctive in shape with a striking triangular design. Here, this beautiful black opal has been set with a singular line of round brilliant cut white diamonds.

If you would like any more information on The Planets Collection or would like to discuss a bespoke jewellery commission than please do not hesitate to visit our dedicated bespoke design page here or contact one of our dedicated jewellery specialists here

Our Showrooms

Over the years, generations of families have become customers of Prestons, and many have gone on to become friends. Today, our teams look forward to welcoming you to our showrooms in Wilmslow, Guildford, Norwich and Leeds.

Prestons Guildford


Our Guildford showroom, which is now located on the opposite side of the high street, is designed to reflect the architectural merit of the Edwardian building it now occupies. The store features newly extended spaces dedicated to the fine watch houses it showcases, alongside a comfortable lounge to allow our clients to explore our bridal and fine jewellery collections. Explore This Showroom

Prestons Wilmslow


Located in the heart of Wilmslow, this showroom features a selection of spaces dedicated to the fine watch houses it showcases. Of course, the bridal collections Prestons have always been famous for remain a prominent feature of the store and surround the famous Aquarium Bar which sits at its centre. Explore This Showroom

Rolex by Prestons, Leeds


This showroom, located in Victoria Gate, features extensive Rolex showcases alongside a discrete VIP lounge. Every element of the interior design radiates the values of the Rolex crown: excellence, precision and attention to detail from louvre walls in walnut, to the careful calibration of colours and patterns within the fittings and furnishings. Explore This Showroom

Prestons Norwich


Located on the historic Norwich high street, Prestons Norwich has been expanded and redesigned to reflect the character of the building it has occupied for over 150 years. The showroom features collections by Patek Philippe, Rolex and TUDOR alongside our fine jewellery collections. Explore This Showroom
Guildford showroom