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African Opal

Rough African Opal, One Variety Of African Opal

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The talk about Ethopian opal has been getting louder in the second half of 2010. This opal does look gorgeous and is found in colors that can range from white, yellowish brown. Much darker opals of this variety can also be found. The color flashes of some African opal pieces is truly amazing. However it would be an unwise simplification to presume that all opals from Africa are as beautiful and gorgeous as the Ethopian opal variety. This brief report discusses a variety of african opal does is mainly white, it could show patches of yellow to brown portions. These patches seem to 'stain' the opal stone rather than enhance it's appearance and beauty.

rough opal stones from africa
Rough opal stones from Africa. The outer layer which is a yellowish brown will be lost during the cutting process. This variety of African opal gems will not show color play or color flashes. The final cut stone will be a plain transluscent to opaque white gem. For an idea of the size, the rough opal gemstones in this lot are around 0.5 inches to 1 inch long.

If you look at the above opal rough images, you will notice a yellowish orange layer on each of the African opal gemstones. The inner stone is white and is actually the opal that is cut and polished. This white African opal does not show color flashes, it is a plain white color. African opal in this variety can be transluscent or almost fully opaque. If you had to procure such African opal rough for cutting purposes, consider these issues related to the transluscence or opacity of the opal rough.

Opal that is a pale milky color will cause the internal spots, inclusions or fissures to be easily visible to the naked eye. If the rough opal that you come across, has a high degree of transluscence make sure that there are not too many flaws inside the body of the rough. Some amount of inclusions in natural gems is to be expected but, a high concentration of visible flaws will result in low quality cut opal stones. If you try to cut good clean pieces from highly flawed opal rough stone, you will end up with very small sizes for cut and polished opals.

african opal gemstones, rough uncut african opal
This is a close up of the same lot of rough opal gemstones from Africa. Each of the pieces is around 0.5 inches to 1 inch in size. You can get a fairly good idea of the color and transluscence of the final cut opals from this image. This is NOT the fire opal color opal gemstones that are recently making an appearance from parts of Africa. The yellow to orange brown 'skin' of these rough African opal gemstones will be taken off during the cutting process.

At the other extreme in terms of transparency is rough opal that is absolutely opaque. In this case you can see nothing through the stone, any internal flaws will not affect the external beauty of the cut opal gem stone. At the same time, such opaque African opals with no color play or flashes can appear like cheap plastic. So unless you are looking for something that is a flat white color opal, something that is placid and fully opaque white African opal might not be something that should interest you.

Somewhere between the highly transluscent and the fully opaque is where you should be aiming. Once again keep in mind that highly included African opal rough might yield, low quality cut opals or opals that are very small in size. There are some opal cutters that recommend stones that have a large depth size, such opals weigh more per piece and get the gem seller more money. But from the view point of the final buyer, there is no advantage in getting a very deep stone as the surface size dimensions is what will be visible in the gold or silver mounting. At the same time, cutting a very thin opal could pull down the price per piece but can make the stone fragile and prone to chipping or breaking.

This report is not meant to make you an expert opal rough gemstone buyer. The information will be useful to new buyers or gem cutting enthusiasts who buy rough gems to train their cutting skills. African opals have been around for a few decades. In recent times, the search for lower jewelry costs has encouraged trade in various types of opals from countries other than Australia.

Directstones does not sell rough gem stones. This report on rough African opal gemstone is compiled for reasons of information. We provide all types of gems including opals custom cut to your size and shape requirements. The Directstones online gem stone resource is operated to work as a source for small jewelers and even individual designers. These very active segment of the jewelry industry is often ignored due to the rather small volumes of gemstone purchases made by them. We welcome even the smallest single piece order. There are no minimum order requirements for loose gems in terms of volume or value. Our support team at will be glad to help you with any information or requirements that you might need. You can buy just the loose gemstones or request for a complete custom made jewel in gold or silver with gemstones of your choice.


Related Resources: Opal Gems   White Opal Info


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