Stones

Opal

The name “opal” comes from the Sanskrit word upala, meaning “precious stone.” Known for its captivating flashes of iridescent color, the stone contributes its infinite nuances to Van Cleef & Arpels High Jewelry creations.

  • The cabochon-cut black opal of 9.63 carats, Lever de Lune necklace, Van Cleef & Arpels

    The cabochon-cut black opal of 9.63 carats, Lever de Lune necklace

Opal is known for its captivating flashes of iridescent color.

Several types of opal exists, classified according to their dominant color. Black opals are remarkable for their iridescence and play of color, while white and pink opals stand out for their milky quality. Fire opals, unique for their warm hues ranging from yellow to orange and bright red, were prized by Aztec and Mayan civilizations, who referred to them as quetzalitzlipyollitli, “bird-of-paradise stone.”

A stone shrouded in legend, the opal was considered the most precious of gems in Ancient Rome. For the Bedouins, opals held lightning trapped within them and rained from the sky during thunderstorms. In other cultures, the stone symbolized hope, purity and truth.

Van Cleef & Arpels selects fire opals from Mexico, their iconic homeland. For black opals, the Maison selects flamboyant stones from Australia.

To protect these stones from damage or scratching, the Maison recommends storing opal pieces separate from other jewelry, in a box lined with moistened fabric, and avoiding changes in temperature.

  • Two cabochon-cut opals for 87.94 carats, shown on the gouaché design of the Ours Opales clips, Van Cleef & Arpels

    Two cabochon-cut opals for 87.94 carats, shown on the gouaché design of the Ours Opales clips