Sir Walter Scott, above, was turned into the bad boy of opals. The public reaction to his novel, Anne of Geierstein (1829), caused large parts of the opal market to crash for almost 50 years. The heroine, Lady Hermione, collapsed in a heap of ashes, ostensibly because her gorgeous opal had been touched the night before by holy water. Superstition that opals were bad luck spread like wildfire, without the aid of Twitter. People read the book. Many years later, Queen Victoria, who had her own issues with jewelry (more on that another time) set a new tone by thinking this to be ridiculous. She liked opals. So do we.
Above, from Mahnaz Collection, a unique vintage 127 carat white crystal opal necklace encased organically in a high carat leaf surround with vivid play of fire, looped on a heavy chain made of fused batons of gold. The opal was one of two cut from a prizewinning stone of about 400 carats from Andamooka, South Australia. This necklace was displayed in San Francisco in 1976.
And from our sold archives, a more casual but elegant and feminine ring with a large opal encased in vines of yellow and white gold with diamonds, circa 1950s.