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Fashion & Style

Opal is making a return

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With its technicolour palette, the fabled opal enchants designers who deploy their talents to do justice to its magnificent lustre.
The rainbow of iridescent hues has, for generations, been enthralling jewellery designers, including Victoire de Castellane. It is her favourite stone – ideal for one of the finest colourists in the business.

Opals have featured in nearly all her Dior Joaillerie collections over the past 20 years because, as she explains: “It’s a very poetic stone; an invitation to a fairy tale, to magic. When I look at it, I see the earth from afar, the oceans, the archipelagos, and the reflections of stars on the waves.”

Dior et Moi black opal, emerald, red spinels, turquoise and lacquer earrings by Dior. Photo: Dior

Equally captivated by the opal’s qualities is Hong Kong jeweller Wendy Yue. “The characteristics of the stones provide endless amazing opportunities for me to create, nothing seems impossible or too far-fetched,” she says.

At David Morris in London, opals are one of Jeremy Morris’ favourite stones; as soon as he finishes a new piece it sells instantly. Opals are also the heart of Chopard’s floral jewellery, and a stunning 26.44-carat black opal ring (with blue-green flashes) circled by tiny yellow sapphire daisies, is being made in its atelier as part of the Exceptional Stones collection. Spectacular black opal specimens are set in Les Ciels de Chaumet’s collection as well, surrounded by diamond shooting stars.

Unlike other gemstones, the opal is non-crystalline and is formed from hardened silica gel that collects in the crevices of rocks or replaces organic material in fossilised wood, shell and bone. Its prismatic qualities fire off a myriad of colours that suddenly catch the eye.

Happy Floral brooch with opal. Photo: Chopard

They are also porous and quite fragile; the water in the stones makes them sensitive to dramatic temperature changes, and to see a carved white opal in the form of a coiled snake resting on a chunky gold ring in Gucci’s debut high jewellery collection Hortus Deliciarum (Garden of Delights) is rare.

Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele chose each of the stones for the collection, and many of the designs feature Gucci’s favourite mythical bestiary – tigers, lions and serpents.

Cartier uses a lot of the black and fragile white opal in its high jewellery, but a rare, large and spectacular matrix opal was a highlight of its 2019 Magnitude collection.

A polished earthy brown pebble, the stone’s veins flash with a tantalising pattern of blue and purple light, which Cartier enhanced with blue and purple sapphires.

The matrix opal is found in Queensland, northern Australia, and is a type of boulder opal attached to ironstone. Although 90 per cent of the world’s opals are sourced from Australia, only 2 per cent of that total is made up of boulder opals, which are considered the second most precious after the black opal.

Cartier High Jewellery Brooch with light opals and non-nacreous clam pearls. Photo: Cartier

It is not the first time Cartier has used matrix opal: a pendant in the 2014 L’Odyssée de Cartier collection had the pattern of reptile skin. As Pierre Rainero, the brand’s director of image, style and heritage, pointed out at the launch of Magnitude last year, the house has used ornamental stones since the early 20th century in its decorative objects.

“At Cartier, stones are part of a greater vocabulary that is not limited to just ornamental or precious,” Rainero said. “We transcend that nomenclature by combining them in our designs.”

Victoire de Castellane became riveted by them at the age of six, when she saw her grandmother, the aristocratic Silvia Rodriguez de Rivas, wearing a black opal surrounded by diamonds given to her by the heiress Barbara Hutton.

De Castellane describes them as “the strangest of stones with their different designs and ever-changing colours”.

Chaumet Bague Planetes black opal and diamond ring. Photo: Chaumet

Her Dior et Moi collection, unveiled in January, juxtaposes black opal with emeralds, red spinels and green lacquer, accentuating the opal’s iridescent colours in pendants and earrings.

Wendy Yue is similarly drawn to the unlimited shapes, colour and size of each individual stone whether black opal, pink opal or boulder opal. They have always been part of her design vocabulary.

“I am fascinated by how their play of fire interacts with other stones around it, bringing out their features and adding a new dimension to the piece,” she says. Her Owl of the Galaxy cuff blends black and shimmering milky-blue opals, while the Rosemania ring features the milky pink opal. “I like to focus on the colour and shape of each individual stone, creating pieces with a unique character and story behind it.”

Gucci carved light opal and gold ring. Photo: Gucci

The pink opal – milky or opaque pastel – is a more accessible hard stone, appearing in fine jewellery collections such as Louis Vuitton’s B Blossom and Fred, and in one of a kind pieces by Fei Liu and Brazilian designer Fernando Jorge.

Fire opals, meanwhile, are very different. They are an unusual variety of opal from Mexico, and a favourite of independent jewellers such as Eugenie Niarchos of Venyx, Lydia Courteille and Ornella Iannucci. Their colours range from yellow to rich orange and red, and are transparent enough to be faceted.

Welo opals from Ethiopia, discovered in 2009, feature an extraordinary inner flame. They are another example of why opals are some of the world’s most enthralling stones.

Note: This story was originally published on SCMP and has been republished on this website.

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Fashion & Style

The Best Under-$35 Sandals At Target Are Affordable & Chic, Too

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You know how the story goes: You go for one thing and leave with a cart-full. And though most stores still closed, shopping Target online is no different. In fact, with a newer and more visible selection you’re bound to find a slew of items on your shopping list that you may have not even needed. It turns out that one of the best under-the-radar categories worth browsing is its footwear — and there’s a slew of great sandals under $35 at Target that are majorly on-trend.

It’s no secret that Target has one of the largest women’s departments — the giant also offers a quick turnaround on trends at a crazy-good price point. The retailer is stepping up its style status with a new range of its own takes on classic footwear, from old faithfuls like chunky sandals to trendier looks like the lugged trek sandal.

This season, sporty sandals have seen a meteoric rise in popularity among the fashion set thanks to high-end brands like Prada and Chanel co-signing the trend. Cult-loved styles like Arizona Love’s Trekky sandal have also given the all-terrain style some high-fashion status cred — and Target’s taken notice. Its Nelle Sport sandals ace the hiking look and have plenty of five-star reviews in both the comfort and style category, all for just $30.

If you love a thick, lugged sole and strappy leather sling-back but not a hefty price-tag, Target’s A New Day brand aced an affordable rendition with the Rianne espadrille which comes in black, white, and tan. Or if you’re on the hunt for a sleek daily sandal that’s a touch more elevated, the $15 Marcie slide is a wearable homage to the ’90s grunge look that’s slowly but surely gaining traction right now.

Though you’ll find solid options in the wedge and heel categories as well, scroll ahead to take a gander at Target’s best flat sandals under $35.

We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

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Fashion & Style

6 Summer Items You Can Ditch and What to Wear Instead

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As we’ve been spending time cleaning out our closets over the last few months, we’ve gone over a smattering of pieces—from basics to jeans—that we’re thinking of getting rid of in favor of other items. Well, today we’re going to focus on the summer items we potentially want to ditch as we head into those warmer-weather months.

Below you’ll uncover a range of summer pieces our fashion editors will never remove from their closets given their versatile and inherently chic nature. Alternatively, you’ll also spot a selection of items our team members aren’t as into at the moment. Of course, all of this is based on personal preference—and you should always wear whatever you love, no matter what anyone says.

With all that in mind, keep scrolling to check out the items we’re into (and those we’re passing on) this summer. And if you’re shopping at the moment, you’ll also find cool summer staples to consider as well.

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