As I’ve learned to render and design jewelry over the past few years, I’ve often found the most helpful teaching aids to be visual shots of a work in progress.  But because I’m often under the gun (time-wise) to produce a rendering as fast as possible, I often forget to take the time to scan my work in-progress so that I can show my readers a little more of how it’s done.

Fortunately, this past week, I DID remember to take the time to scan a rendering pre-completion.  In this opal pendant design, I’ve blocked out the base colors (the palest colors I use, outside of the final highlights) and have added two “low-light” colors to the diamonds (a slightly darker gray – which is hard to see – and a charcoal grey.)  At this stage, you can already see the depth of the stones “magically” appearing:

Watercolor and gouache preliminary painted opal, diamond and pearl pendant rendering by Joana Miranda
Watercolor and Gouache Preliminary Painted Opal, Diamond and Pearl Pendant Rendering by Joana Miranda

And, while this is not exactly a two-step process, in this final rendering you see the addition of all of the highlights (as well as the near rainbow of colors in the opal itself):

Watercolor and Gouache Diamond, Opal and Pearl Pendant Rendering by Joana Miranda
Watercolor and Gouache Diamond, Opal and Pearl Pendant Rendering by Joana Miranda

I have to say that I’ve shied away from opals in my designs and also in the jewelry I choose to wear because I’ve long thought that opals were an unlucky stone. Upon reading further, as I contemplated doing this rendering, I realized that my “bad luck” superstition does have some historical origins.  Following the publication in 1829 of Sir Walter Scott’s Anne of Geierstein, people began to think opals caused bad luck and even death, since the book’s heroine died after a drop of water fell on her supernaturally-empowered opal talisman and rendered it colorless.

However, looking even further back to the Middle Ages, opals were thought to provide great luck since they were believed to contain the virtues of all of the gemstones whose color was represented in the color spectrum of the opal.

So set me straight.  Do you have an opal piece of jewelry that you feel has brought you good luck?  Why?


  1. Erin says:

    I have a Mexican opal ring that I bought for myself years ago, but don’t wear it much anymore. I don’t know whether or not it brought any kind of luck, but I do remember someone telling me that opals are bad luck unless they are given to you! So, I chose to disregard the fact that I gave it to myself…! Kind of like those emails that threaten bad luck if you don’t forward them to 10 people in the 5 minutes after receiving them.

    • Hi Erin,

      I guess opals do have quite a track history in terms of superstitions. My father made my mom a beautiful opal ring years ago and I never thought it was a “bad luck” ring. All the same, after a colleague in the Twin Cities gave me an opal ring to cheer me up after I had been dumped by the guy I thought was the love of my life (plus, I had also had a cancer scare), I passed that ring onto someone else rather quickly.

      In hindsight, better luck might have been to hang onto the ring and get cash for the recycled gold now;-)

      We need to get together again soon! You make me laugh…

      🙂 Joana

  2. Helen Reich says:

    Many years ago, I had an awful summer job pushing costume jewelry in New York City. One customer told me that opals bring bad luck if you wear them and they are not your birthstone. They are not mine, but I have opals in a ring, a pendant, and a pair of earrings. I haven’t ever associated any bad luck that I’ve had with these particular pieces! Doesn’t mean they aren’t the cause of the bad luck; however, I’m not willing to part with the jewelry to see if I never have bad luck again!

    • Hi Helen,

      I know the opal jewelry you are talking about, and I would hang on to those pieces, too – superstitions or not – since they are all really beautiful pieces!

      I don’t have many superstitions, although I do confess to the opal one, and to also making sure to touch the outside of the plane I board when I fly somewhere. (I do it discreetly, but somehow it makes me feel like I’ve verified that the plane is solid before I trust it with me life.)

      Hope I didn’t just jinx myself;-)


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