What Are Unset Opals?

What Are Unset OpalsDo you have a piece of jewelry that needs the perfect stone setting? Perhaps you treasure single stones and are looking for the next item to add to your gemstone collection. Or maybe you’re thinking outside of the box and want to inlay unset opals into a belt or accessory?

Then allow us to introduce you to unset opals! Why are we so excited about unset opals? Well, as we’ve been discussing, opals are one of nature’s most unique and treasured stones. Few gemstones come in such a vivid spectrum of colors. In fact, there are various types of opals ranging in color from black opal to white opal, however each opal stone encapsulates a sparkling rainbow of striking colors.

Basically, opal stones are one-of-a-kind!

Let’s establish why unset opals might be a good choice for you. First, buying unset opals gives you the freedom to custom-make a jewelry item with a unique setting. But before we get into jewelry customization with uncut opals, let’s examine the processes involved with creating unset opals.
What Are Unset Opals

What are Unset Opals?

Simply put, unset opals are opals that are cut to be placed into jewelry. Alternatively, you can also buy unset opals as individual pieces to add to accessories or a stone collection. The beauty of unset opals is that you can choose exactly which stone you love and then customize it by setting it into your choice of jewelry. Otherwise, you are sometimes limited to buying a piece of opal jewelry with an undesirable center stone.

How Are Unset Opals Made?

The first step in the process requires rough opal specimens or pieces to be cut into stones. Rough opal pieces are slabs of opal specimens directly mined from opal fields in Australia.

Next, the opal specimens are cleaned, rubbed, cut and polished to fully bring out the vivid colors of the stone.

To do this, a technician roughly shapes the stone with a cutting wheel, then they will finely cut the stone to solidify its shape. The most common shapes of unset opals are dome, oval, and tear-drop shapes.

To add sheen and luster, the stone is then polished with sandpaper on a wet leather wheel. It’s important to understand the processes involved with unset opals because each step of this process affects qualities of the stone that give it value. For example, the cut of the stone dictates which colors are visible. The polishing of the opal stone influences the stone’s brilliance, and how clearly defined the colors are.

Ultimately, with any opal stone an elaborate play of color is most desireable. Play of color is a term used to describe how the colors of an opal stone change and shift when the stone is moved or tilted at a different angle.

Now that these stones have been treated, what can we do with unset opals?
What Are Unset Opals

How Are Unset Opals Added to Jewelry?

Now comes the fun part! Unset stones, especially unset opals, are fun to play with because you can really customize how you want to best display the stone. There are two main ways of setting an opal into jewelry:

Setting a standard cut opal stone:

Standard opal stones are sized and cut into shapes that are ready to be placed into jewelry settings. These stones can be brought to a jeweler where you can pick out the setting, or you can bring your own jewelry setting.

For example, many people and jewelers alike choose to set opals into pendants for necklaces. That’s because opal pendants have a mesmerizing effect when they catch light, and radiate and reflect different colors from the neck in a very attractive way. Additionally, standard sized opals make beautiful earrings, and are especially gorgeous as center stones for rings, or accent stones for engagement or wedding rings.

Setting an uncut, free-form stone:

If you like a more organic aesthetic with your jewelry, free-form opal stones are a unique choice sure to draw a lot of attention. Free-form opal stones retain their raw and rough shape to best preserve the integrity of the cut stone. Rough cut opals are commonly placed on rings, and often adorn a simple necklace as a pendant, which highlights the stone as the focal point.

What about Inlaying Unset Opal Stones?

Opals make gorgeous stones for jewelry, however there are also unique ways to wear opals outside of jewelry pieces. In fact, inlaying opal is a popular practice among jewelers. This process involves adding inlaid opal to the rim of items like belts and watches. Inlaying opal is a subtle and decorative way to showcase this beautiful stone. These are popular options for men who like to incorporate gemstones into their accessories, however women also wear inlaid opal in belts, purses, glasses and jewelry pieces.

What Are Unset Opals

Why Should I Buy Unset Opals?

Truth is, with such a diverse stone as opal, everyone can benefit from their unique look. The best thing about unset opals is that they allow you to curate and customize them to best suit your style. Whether you like rough opals or standard size opals, they really do make an excellent statement piece.

The best part about buying unset opals is that you have a variety of choices: crystal opal, boulder opal, black opal, white opal, and more. White opals look beautiful with rose gold metal, and black opal nicely contrasts yellow gold or sterling silver.

Unset opals can even be combined with other gemstones to evoke an earthy look. However you choose to wear your unset opals, you’re sure to garner a lot of questions about your piece because opals are one of the most unique stones in the world.

A Quick Recap on Unset Opals:

  • Unset opals are cut stones that can be set into jewelry, or kept as single stones

  • Unset opals can be standard size, or free-form rough shapes

  • Unset opals give you the luxury to completely customize your jewelry, from the stone to the setting, the entire piece will be one-of-a-kind

Now that you know all about unset opals, feel free to browse our opal collection to find the perfect stone!


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