E744 Civil OpalEra Opal and Paste Earrings in 15 karat Yellow Gold:


The earrings were handmade of 15 karat yellow gold, they are post earrings and date from 1855 to 1865 and would be American made. The screw backs and are 14 karat gold ( likely an early replacement). The opals are set with six oval Opals at .25 points of a carat each, a center clear paste stone at 3mm in size, and six foil-backed stones at 1.75 mm's each. These opals and paste are per-earring. The opals are a wonderful blue color.

Information on Opal Gemstones:
Opals can be divided into three main subgroups: precious opal, fire opal, and common Opal.
Opal is famed for its ability to diffract light. The exact cause of Opal's unique properties was only recently discovered by Australian scientists in the 1960s after analysis with electron microscopes. It was discovered that small spheres of silica gel caused interference, refraction, and diffraction of light, resulting in Opal's distinctive play of color. The varying refractive indices of the spheres and spaces between them dissect the light on its passage through the stone. As light enters the Opal, it bends around the tiny particles or 'spheres' of hydrated silica, as well as 'chips' of silicon and oxygen suspended within the stone. Light is comprised of all visible colors and can produce an entire spectrum of colors when it is diffracted.
Precious Opal is known for its remarkable ability to diffract light, which results in rainbow-like colors that change with the angle of observation - known as 'play of color.' Fire opal can sometimes exhibit slight color play, but it is better known for its vivid body color. Common Opal is usually opaque, rarely translucent, and lacks play of color. It is often found mixed with other gemstones, such as agate opal or moss opal. Common Opal is known to exhibit 'opalescence.' The term 'opalescence' is often mistaken for 'play of color.' Opalescence should technically only be used to describe the optical effects seen in common Opal. Opalescence is caused by the reflection of light and appears as a sheen of light, typically milky-bluish in color. It is a form of adularescence, whereas 'play of color' is iridescence caused by light diffraction.
Historical superstitions
In the middle Ages, Opal was considered a stone that could provide great luck because it was believed to possess all the virtues of each gemstone whose color was represented in the color spectrum of the Opal. It was also said to confer the power of invisibility if wrapped in a fresh bay leaf and held in hand following the publication of Sir Walter Scott's Anne of Geierstein in 1829, Opal acquired a less favorable reputation. In Scott's novel, the Baroness of Arnheim wears an opal talisman with supernatural powers. When a drop of holy water falls on the talisman, the Opal turns into a colorless stone, and the Baroness dies soon after that. Due to the popularity of Scott's novel, people began to associate opals with bad luck and death. Within a year of the publishing of Scott's novel in April 1829, the sale of opals in Europe dropped by 50%, and remained low for the next 20 years or so.
Paste Gemstones:
The term paste is used to refer to gemstones made of various kinds of cut glass. Lead glass was most commonly used, since the denser the material, the higher the refractive index and the greater the dispersion.
The color is imparted to pastes by the addition, during their manufacture, of various metallic oxides in small proportions. Thus cobalt gives a blue color, copper, or chromium cause green, copper, or gold give red (under proper treatment), and manganese gives purple. By experimentation, the makers of pastes have become very skillful in imitating the color of almost any precious stone. Beautiful paste emeralds may even look better than some genuine emeralds.
Today we think of paste as fraudulent, or at least a mere simulation of more valuable natural gemstones. But that was not always so in the history of jewelry. A paste stone at one time an art form, since with paste gems, stone certain decorative effects could be achieved and rarely realized that they were not diamonds and other valuable gemstones. Paste jewelry was popular with royalty and aristocrats in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The process of making glass jewelry reached its peak in the Georgian (1714-1830) and Victorian (1837-1901) periods. Its popularity was mainly attributed to the work of a jeweler named Georges Frederic Strass (1701-1773). Strass moved from Strasbourg to Paris in 1724, and within a short period, he was appointed "Jeweler to the King." He invented the rhinestone, and his work was in high demand at the court of King Louis XV of France. He controlled a large market for artificial gems and became a wealthy man. His paste jewelry has become extremely valuable today. Each earring is 1/2 of an inch across and is in excellent condition and strong to wear.

Price: $750.00