Opal & Tourmaline

You have received this newsletter because you opted after a past purchase, but should you wish to be taken off the mailing list, just click the link at the bottom. This month's theme is opal and tourmaline, the gemstones for October. Scroll down, or click one of the links below on the html version to go to a certain section. If you have any suggestions for the future, please e-mail me at suggestions@mrbead.com.

To see the full HTML color version with photos click http://www.mrbead.com/september.htm

What is Opal
Types of Opal
How to value opal
How does Opal Effect You?
Looking after Opal
Tourmaline's Strange Effects
Fun with Chip Beads
Special Offer

What is Opal?
All of Nature's fury can be seen in fine opal. Like a Rembrandt: fire, lightning, all the colors of the rainbow and the shine of far seas. Australia supplies about 95% of the world's opal from the outback. Aborigines there believe their creator came down to Earth on a rainbow to bring the message of peace to all humans. And at the spot where his foot touched the ground, opal was born.

The name Opal could have came from many places. In Greek "opallios", translates as "color change", and to the ancient Romans "opalus", was a stone from several elements. Pliny, a Roman author, wrote that opal combines the sparkle of Almandine, the shining purple of Amethyst, the golden yellow of Topaz, and the deep blue of Sapphire.

Types of Opal
Fine opals shine and sparkle in a continually changing play of colors called "opalising". Depending on the rock and location they have names like Harlequin, Peacock, Mexican, and Fire Opal. Most opal has this play of colors except "Common Opal", a name give to all others, like Pink Opal. Because demand outstrips supply, fine opalizing opal is very very expensive, so is sold in individual beads for hundreds of US dollars each. Therefore, the type of opal common in necklaces is non-opalizing opal & usually pink opal from Peru.

Opal's fantasy-like play of color is caused by small spheres of silica creating interference and refraction manifestations. The spheres, which are arranged in compact structures, dissect light through the gemstone, turning it into the rainbow effect, always new and different.

How to Value Opal
The most important criterion for determining the price of fine opal is the play of color, the colors themselves and their pattern. If red appears when looking through the stone, all the other colors will also. Value also depends on body color, transparency, and original location. Body color can be black, dark or light, or colored. Black Opal or a dark grey body has the most brilliant play of color. Black Opal from Lightning Ridge or Mexican Fire Opal is the best. Crystal opal, is the next best, and should be more transparent with a deep play of color. White or milky opals show more diffuse color and are the cheapest.

To best bring out the play of color in a fine opal, the stones are cut and polished to round or oval cabochons, or any other softly domed shape. Only the best qualities of Fire Opal are suited to faceting. The opal cutter removes any impurities using a diamond cutting wheel, before working out the rough basic shape, fine cutting, and finishing with sandpaper and polishing with a wet leather wheel.

How does Opal Effect You?
Opal is thought to solve depression and to help its wearer find true love. Opals are supposed to enhance the positive characteristics for people born under the sign of Cancer. With Black Opal recommended to Scorpios and Boulder Opal for Aries. The opalizing effect reflects changing emotions and moods of people. People prefer different opals for different moods. Opals are like human emotions: each type creates different feelings.

Looking After Opal
Due to 2 to 6% water, opals easily become brittle and if stored too dry or exposed to heat over a longer period of time, they will show fissures and the play of color will fade. Therefore, Opal jewelry should be worn as often as possible, for then the gemstone will receive the needed humidity from the air and from the skin of its wearer. In earlier days opal's sensitive surface was oiled, but today they are sealed with clear resin.

Tourmalines are precious stones with a unique splendor of colors and fascinating properties. Ancient Egyptians believed tourmaline collected the colors of the rainbow on its way from heaven to earth. For thousands of years tourmaline has been attributed with magical powers, and thought to bring permanence and stability to love and friendship.

"Tourmaline" comes from the Singhalese expression "tura mali": stone of mixed colors. Tourmalines are usually dark red and green, but also range from black, blue to yellow, usually showing two or more colors. Some tourmalines change color from daylight to artificial light, and each tourmaline will look different to another. Tourmalines are mined everywhere, but especially in Brazil, Sri Lanka and South Africa. The "Ashes-Extractor"

The multi-colors come from mixed crystals of complex aluminum-borosilicate. The slightest changes in composition will result in completely different colors. Depending on the angle of view the color will be different or at least show different intensity. The deepest color always appears along the main axis, so skilled gem cutting is important. Tourmaline is excellently suited for wearing and being quite hard is easy to care for.

Deep red Tourmaline is named "Rubellite", provided it shows the same ruby-red shade in daylight and in artificial light. Should the color change with the light source, the stone is called a "Pink Tourmaline". Blue Tourmalines are called "Indigolith", "Dravite" is a golden-brown to dark brown Tourmaline, and black Tourmalines are known as "Schorl". The latter used for engravings because it is reputed to ward off harmful radiation from its wearer. Paraiba Tourmaline from Brazil is considered the best, with a vivid deep blue to bluish green.

Tourmaline's Strange Effects
Not only are designers inspired by tourmaline's wealth of colors, but scientists are also intrigued by its astonishing physical characteristics to produce pyro-electricity. By heating and subsequently cooling down, tourmalines can be "charged up" to show positive charge at one end, and negative at the opposite pole. Pressure will also charge the stone, and while discharging the plus and minus-poles will alternate, so that the stone will show vibrations similar to Rock Crystal, but much stronger. Years ago, the Dutch brought Tourmaline to Europe because of this effect, using heated tourmalines to extract the ashes from their clay pipes and naming the gemstone "Aschetrekker".

Fun with Chip Beads

Chips are a fun and inexpensive way to make jewelry. There is also a very wide range of bead chips available that are ideal for simple bracelets, necklaces or earrings. Bracelets can be quickly made by using elastic string allowing for expansion so they will fit all wrists. Or chips can easily be threaded on thin bangle wire for a more steady effect. These pictures will give you an idea what can be done with these fun-shaped beads.

Chips are sold in much longer strands than other types of beads - usually at least 32-inches long, so if you only want them for bracelets, you don't need so many strands. They will also be the cheapest way of purchasing the stone - so allowing those on a budget to use semi-precious stones they could not otherwise afford. Ships come in all sorts of sizes and shapes. Some like the coral chips on the top right above, are made from very fine hairpins - while others like the carnelian beads on the left of these, are small chunks. Being natural, almost all have irregular size and shape within the strand, and the size quoted is usually the "largest average" on the strand. If you plan on using a strand of chips to make a necklace, you will need to restring them - although they come quite long, this is really only a temporary hold and comes without any hook or clasp. It's a good idea to use a tray or table when working with chips as their tiny size make them easy to loose when take off the strand. Have fun!

Next month there will be a piece about selling beads on eBay

Special 10% Offer !

Sample our beads with 10% discount in our MrBead bead store, just key in "september" at the checkout (without the inverted commas) and click "Redeem Coupon". Offer valid until the end of September only - so act now! Only for use in our store at the checkout and not valid with any other offers.

To see all our chip beads for sale click http://www.mrbead.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=M&Category_Code=C1

To go to our MrBead store click http://www.mrbead.com