By Michelle Graff

As kids, my little brother and I would comb for box turtles
in the nearby woods. And if we were fortuitous enough to find one, we’d take it
home and attempt to make it a new pet. But luckily for the turtle, we wouldn’t
get too far in our plans. Because at home, mom preferred that reptiles
never even cross the threshold, with her claiming they brought about bad

Suffice it to say, I was raised in a superstitious household,
but there were quite a few tales that I just never paid much mind to, including
the one about opals.

For centuries, opal has been plagued with a forbidding
mythology, on one extreme charged as vessels of evil used to do harm to
others, and on the lesser end touted as bad luck bearers for those who
choose to wear them yet can’t claim opal as their birthstone.

The latter was the one I was familiar with, but even as a
child, I couldn’t forgo the stone’s fiery brilliance. For one birthday, I asked for a pair of pear-shaped opal stud earrings. And every time I’d wear them I’d
feel slightly mischievous given that my birthday falls in June.

I wish I’d known then the train of thought that proliferated
during the Middle Ages: that opal was thought to possess all the virtues of
each gemstone whose color could be found within. And then there were the
Romans, who believed that opal, like the rainbow, was a symbol of good luck, as
well as hope and purity.

Designers, I’m thinking, are lately looking on the bright
side. At the Couture show in Las Vegas, opal offerings proliferated. Here are a few
favorites. For more, look out for the July issue of National Jeweler.



Irene Neuwirth

Opal pendant necklaces; suggested retail prices range from
$10,450 to $32,860.



Katrina Kelly

earrings in 18-karat white gold with opals and 1.41 carats total weight of
diamonds; price available upon request.



Paula Crevoshay
Dream” ring with 5.22-carat black opal, 0.53 carats of Paraiba tourmaline and
1.02 carats of diamond; suggested retail price is $97,000. (505) 898-2888 or

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