Inlay is a method of Jewelry making that has evolved to include Opal Inlay. Inlay Jewelry has been made for centuries. From native American Indians using Turquoise in beads and tribal settings to ancient south American civilizations. In Italy in 18th centuary they were making inlay into tortoise shells.
Opal inlay jewelry is inlaid with blacken out crystal opal. The back of the setting is blackened so that the opal, when set in the jewelry piece, is enhanced and appears brighter. Opal is selected for fine bezzel setting and is supported on the back by the Jewelry. Small channels are made to hold the Opal and the metal is wrapped tightly around the Opal giving it strength. Opal inlay is complex and time consuming to make and inlay. First the ideal opal rough has to be sourced.Crystal Opal rough is ideal for use in inlay. Most comes from the opal fields of Cooper Pedy,South Australia, with smaller amount from Lighting Ridge.
This is not as easy as one would think, as the opal needs to be clean and have no inclusions, cracks or potch lines. Opal miners sell rough in parcel lots and the inlay cutter will lose over 50% of a parcel due to inclusion and cutting away the crystal opal to inlay. The opal cutter will first clean the crystal opal. Opalized shells are ideal for this as many are thin and have bright colours. The thickness of Opal is not a concern in Opal inlay because the Opal is supported by the Jewelry it is going to be set in. Once he has cleaned the crystal slice he has to mark where he will saw the crystal to fit his design. Lots of opal will be cut away to make the designs. Today most opal inlay into silver is made in Asia due to labour costs as it is very labour intensive.Gold rings are made in Australia to a set design so as not to waste so much opal. Curved or wavy patterns are very hard to shape.
Matching Opal Inlay earrings can be found in Inlay opal earrings as it is easy to match similar colours and shape designs. The Opal can be split into pieces while the cutter is removing the inclusions. This allows the Opal in each earring to have similar look.
Opal Inlay Jewelry should be cared for just like any other Opal Jewelry. Since the Opal in the inlay is thin it is important to be sure not to hit it against anything hard. The Opal is generally protected on the sides by the settings to it is mainly force from above that could be a problem.
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