Types of Opals
There are many types of opal. Opal type is determined by Origin. Australia is the world leader in opal production. Boulder Opal, Black Opal and White Opal are the three main types of Australian Opal. Solid, doublet and triplet are terms used to describe types of opal.
Opal type depends on Origin.
Opal is mainly found in Australia, Mexico and Ethiopia however small deposits are found in many other places around the world.
Australian Opal accounts for more than 95% of global production. Australian Opal is known for its diversity, beauty and stability. There are three generic types of Australian Opal: Boulder Opal, Black Opal and White Opal. Learn more about Where is opal found here: https://opalartglobal.com/about-opals/where-is-opal-found/
Boulder Opal is a type of opal that is found in rock.
Boulder opal is a unique type of opal that forms in veins within large weathered boulders (rocks) lying on what was, one hundred million years ago, the ocean floor.
Boulder opal is found near and around the townships of Winton, Quilpie, Yowah and Koroit in Queensland. Learn more about where opal is found here https://opalartglobal.com/about-opals/where-is-opal-found/.
The defining feature of boulder opal is the host rock it is found in. As the bond between the rock and opal is natural a boulder opal is regarded as a solid opal. Learn more about boulder opal here https://opalartglobal.com/about-opals/boulder-opal/. Learn more about Solid Opal here https://opalartglobal.com/about-opals/solids-doublets-triplets/.
Black opal is a type of opal that is found near and around the township of Lightning Ridge in NSW. Learn more about where opal is found here https://opalartglobal.com/about-opals/where-is-opal-found/.
The defining feature of Black Opal is the black/grey common opal the precious opal (color) is found within. Learn more about what opal is here https://opalartglobal.com/about-opals/what-is-opal/.
Black opal is opal that presents in bands of precious opal (color) within black common opal (colorless black/grey opal). Learn more about Black Opal here https://opalartglobal.com/about-opals/black-opal/.
White Opal is a type of opal that is found near and around the township of Coober Pedy in South Australia. Learn more about where opal is found here https://opalartglobal.com/about-opals/where-is-opal-found/.
White opal is precious opal that presents in bands of precious opal (color) within white common opal (colorless white opal). Learn more about White Opal here https://opalartglobal.com/about-opals/white-opal/.
Other types of opal
Crystal opal is a subcategory type of opal that is found in all three main categories; boulder, black and white opal. For example, you can get boulder crystal, black crystal and white crystal.
Crystal opal is translucent (clear) opal and has a particular ‘play of color.’
A crystal opal is clear in appearance with the color coming from within the stone as it works with light. Crystal opal is found in ‘pockets,’ ‘pores’ and ‘pipes’ and is usually relatively thick as opposed to opal that is found in bands that are sometimes very thin. Because crystal opal is thick it is usually cut into cabochons or even faceted.
Matrix opal is a subcategory type of opal of the Boulder Opal group family however a form of matrix opal is found in South Australian on the Andamooka fields.
Matrix opal is rock that has been infused with opal in a pinfire pattern. Matrix opals are usually dark because they are predominately host rock but the brilliant color of the opal sprinkled throughout the rock give the gemstone its unique character. Matrix opal is suited to slabbing and bead making because of the consistency of color in the rock.
Solids, Doublet and Triplets
A solid opal is a natural opal gemstone that has been cut and polished in the natural way to bring out the best in the gemstone without taking away or adding anything except beauty to the finished product. Solid opals can be worn in water and are the preferred form, or type of opal, for investment. Learn more about Solid Opals here https://opalartglobal.com/about-opals/solids-doublets-triplets/ and opal value here https://opalartglobal.com/about-opals/opal-value/.
A doublet opal is a composite opal gemstone; a type of opal that has been partially man-made.
A doublet is a thin slice of opal that has been glued to a backing.
Because the opal is thin, in a doublet, it is glued onto a backing (usually black plastic) to add substance and give support. Doublets have natural opal faces but are weak on the edges. Doublets should not be worn in water and have some investment value but lack the prestige of solid opals. Learn more about doublets here https://opalartglobal.com/about-opals/solids-doublets-triplets/ and opal value here https://opalartglobal.com/about-opals/opal-value/.
A triplet is a composite opal gemstone; a type of opal that has been partially man-made. Like the doublet a triplet is a thin slice of opal glued to a backing however, in the case of a triplet, the opal is so thin it must be protected by a clear quart cap to protect it from flaking. Triplets opals make great costume jewelry and are often very beautiful in color however they cannot be worn in water and do not have real value as investment stones. Learn more about triplets here https://opalartglobal.com/about-opals/solids-doublets-triplets/ and opal value here https://opalartglobal.com/about-opals/opal-value/.
Synthetic opal is a type of opal that is made in a laboratory. Gilson opal is the most recognized form of synthetic opal. Gilson opals were first created in 1974 when Pierre Gilson Sr. discovered a way to mimic the chemical and physical properties of natural opal in a laboratory.
FAQ: How do I know if an opal is real or fake?
When buying an opal it is important to know if the opal is real (natural) or fake (man-made).
A natural opal will have inclusions. Inclusions are like birthmarks that give the gemstone its uniqueness.
The higher the quality the opal gemstone is, the less inclusions it will have.
Synthetic opals generally don’t have obvious inclusions and present as rather ‘perfect’ in appearance.
Reputable opal dealers will disclose if an opal is natural or synthetic.
Learn more about buying opal here https://opalartglobal.com/about-opals/opal-value/.