Opal Gemstones

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Opal

Opals are inexpensive, but the most beautiful gems on our planet. Their structure consists of the smallest ordered balls of silica (globules) and water between them. These gems are distinguished from the rest by a remarkable optical effect peculiar only to them – opalescence. The transmitted light decomposes into colored rays, as a result of which we observe an exciting change in the color spectrum.

Description of opal:

  • Color. Optical properties allow one and the same sample to observe all the rainbow colors in the form of bright-colored spots, which can change their color depending on the angle of view and lighting. The opalescence color depends on the size of the silica globules. At a size of about 0.1 microns, purple colors are obtained, at a size of 0.2 microns, red. The intermediate sizes of the globules give all the remaining colors of the rainbow.
  • Types. Depending on the ordering of the structure, two types of this mineral are distinguished: noble (with opalescence) and common (without opalescence). In turn, noble opals, depending on the general tone of the stone, are divided into black (with a dark base) and white (with a light base).
  • Place of mining. Opals are found on the territory of all continents, but the world leader in their mining is Australia (the main place of mining is in Coober Pedy). Noble opals are also mined in Mexico, Ethiopia, and Peru.
  • Pattern. An opalescence pattern, consisting of color spots of different sizes and shapes, is called a pattern. There are, for example, the following types of patterns: “honeycomb” – opalescence is represented by cells resembling a honeycomb; “Pinfire” – many small separate multi-colored dots; “Harlequin” – the rarest pattern, opalescence in the form of colored spots, similar to a bright harlequin costume. In total, more than a hundred varieties of opal are distinguished.
The most expensive stone should include bright reds and orange shades due to the opalescence. The more the stone contains multi-colored spots, the higher the specimen is valued. Australian specimens are the most expensive. There are more samples of Ethiopian origin in the world market today. The price for them is more budget.

How to tell a real opal from a fake one?

Scammers often make and sell doublets and triplets under the guise of full-fledged stones. These constructions represent opal that is used as one of two or three layers. Vetrolite or obsidian can be glued under it, like a black “base”. They are also used as a “base” quartz, glass, or rock crystal. Another type of counterfeiting that fraudsters can use is impregnation with paint or synthetic resin to give the stone a more “expensive” hue. The risk, in this case, is to pay much more than the product actually costs.

To distinguish a natural stone from a fake, you need to pay attention to:

  • Opalescence. Noble opals can change colors and reflections that emerge from their very depth and disappear in a “magic” way. Artificial (synthetic) opal has colored blotches that do not move when the viewing angle is changed. Colored highlights seem to be grouped in a certain place.
  • Structure. A distinctive feature of synthetic opal is the scaly outer structure, which is clearly visible in a magnifying glass in bright light. Doublets and triplets are multi-layered. If you turn them with the side towards you, you can see the places where the layers join. 
  • Color. Stones of unusual, very saturated, and bright shades, for example, hot pink, blue, acid green, are definitely fake. Also, the sun’s rays, passing through natural opal, are refracted, and your fingers will be painted in almost all colors of the spectrum. If this is a fake, then there will be no such play of light.
Of course, the most reliable way to verify the authenticity of a stone is a gemological certification. All our stones on Gem Lovers have proper documents to verify their quality. We are always ready to shoot for you and send additional photos or videos. Also, our specialists will be happy to find for you a gem, which is not currently in our catalog, and will make any jewelry inlaid with opal such as rings, earrings, pendants, and so on.