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Opal Doublet Meaning 

What Is An Opal Doublet, Should You Buy Opal Doublets 

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opal doublet meaning, what is an opal doublet
The above image clearly shows the concept used to make an opal doublet gem stone. Remember that the opal itself is natural and not man made. The doublet procedure for opals does help in making the gem much stronger. You will also notice an improvement in appearance if you observe an opal doublet gem stone.

When talking about the meaning of an opal doublet gemstone, certain basic aspects need to be understood. As the name opal doublet would suggest, this stone has two layers or two parts that are put together using a special type of glue. The picture above will make things clearer, look at the smaller stone and you will see that it has an opal on top and a piece of black material at the bottom. In this section we will talk about opal doublets and study the advantages or disadvantages that these stones bring with them.

In our discussion we will talk about doublets where the upper portion is a natural (not synthetic) white opal stone. This stone is generally cut without facets (cabachon) and can be done in round, oval, trillion, heart, cushion, drop or any other fancy shape. The bottom side of the cut opal is flat corresponding to the piece of dark backing material which will also be flat. Before we move ahead let us talk about the black material used to make the bottom layer of opal doublets.

Though opal doublet stones have been around for many decades, there has been no consensus or standard material definition for the bottom layer of the doublet. In the earlier days most gem manufacturers used black onyx or a piece of boulder opal (rock) to form the base. Boulder rock is the stone on which opal is found when mined, this stone is not black but rather a deep brown color. In recently times, all materials both natural and man made are used to make the bottom layer of an opal doublet. Remember when answering the question - what is an opal doublet gem, we said that it consisted of two layers. We did not define what material the lower layer of the doublet should be. You can now find resin, plastic and anyother black durable material being used to make the lower layer of an opal doublet.

Although there are no strict conventions regarding the bottom layer being made from natural material, at Directstones we prefer to keep the entire opal doublet natural and therefore use black onyx, black agate or boulder opal for the base portion. No other jewelery or gem provider can ensure this because they really do not make the opal doublets inhouse. At Directstones, we procure rough white opal from the Australian mines and custom cut each stone. When required to be made into opal doublets, we custom cut onyx, agate or boulder rock to precisely match the shape and size of the opal. In the next process the bonding process is done to fix both pieces firmly together.

So why should you make an opal doublet gemstone. You could use the white opal oval stone as it is without getting it backed by another material at the bottom, but few facts need to be revealed. If you hold a white opal oval 10x8mm gemstone in your hand, you will notice a few things about the thickness (depth) of the opal. The portion that is closer to the center of the opal will have a thickness of around 2 to 2.5mm. Move towards the edge (border) and that thickness is a mere 1 to 1.5mm. If you mount this stone as it is in an opal ring, the chances of the stone breaking when the ring drops or hits an hard object are fairly high. This is not true of all gems as the hardness, internal structure and durability of gemstones differ. If you try to circumvent this problem by cutting an opal with a high dome, the gem will protrude from the gold or silver casting. This makes it prone to getting damaged by striking against hard surfaces. Keeping this in mind it is fair to say that, the durability of the opal will increase when it is assembled as an opal doublet.

There is another reason for making opal doublet stones. A good quality white opal will not be plain white it will show some color specks and flashes. Once again, this can be seen quite clearly in the opal doublet gemstone shown above. Unless you cut your white opal with a big thickness, it should not appear totally opaque. Some amount of transluscence can be observed when the cut opal is held against the light. By making an opal doublet and backing the white opal with a dark or black material, you actually enhance the visibility of the colors in the opal. This enhances the beauty of the gem, without using any dyeing or coloring treatment. So when you choose an opal doublet, you end up getting a stronger opal gem and also one that looks prettier.

It is important to understand that, the gem provider of manufacturer cannot make a decision for the buyer. It is required to clearly disclose to the buyer when the opal gem being used is a doublet. We say this for a very specific reason, so do try to understand this point. Observe the white opal doublet (larger piece) in the image, you can actually notice much more than just a plain white opal, the stone shows a nice darker shade of white in the background and color flashes on the top. It is possible to get a high quality opal gemstone that looks this good or maybe better without, making an opal doublet. But here is the catch, such an opal would be around 15 to 30 times more expensive than an opal doublet. Also remember that, the issue about durability being enhanced by making an opal doublet is an important factor that needs to be considered.

Here is an interesting fact that very few gem or jewelry providers will disclose. Long before China became a big player in the global gems and jewelry manufacturing industry, Hong Kong was a prominent trading center for opals. Though opals are not found (as yet) in China or Hong Kong, opals mined in Australia were sent to Hong Kong as it was a place where buyers were willing to pay better prices. Hong Kong jewelry providers found a fancy way to handle the 'dark backing' on opals that would help enhance the beauty of the gem. They did not work hard to make opal doublets, they simply took some dark felt tipped pens and painted the base of the opal! This gimmick is alive even today and has spread to many jewelry producing countries. The ink in the pens would ofcourse need to be durable and water resistant. It is therefore very important to choose a reliable jeweler when buying an opal gemstone or jewelry with opal gems.

We talked about all the good things that an opal doublet gemstone can bring. Let us now come to the effects of using an opal doublet in jewelry. Fortunately there is nothing that cannot be managed and a few small tips and suggestions, can keep an opal doublet stone looking great for many years. Remember that there is a glue used to get both the layers of an opal doublet together. This is a special glue and will not easily dissolve in water or loosen but, a few precautions are in order. An opal doublet or jewel should not be soaked in water, an Australian white opal would normally not require this precaution but, the construction of a doublet makes it a requirement. Similarly chemicals and solvents could weaken the glue and should therefore be kept away from opal doublets. Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean opal doublets or jewelry with doublet gemstones, this can cause the glue to weaken.

A good jeweler should incorporate essential design features when making a jewel with an opal doublet stone. This might be asking for too much as most jewelers are interested only in pushing sales up and increasing market share. Your best bet would be to find a good and reputed custom jewelry provider who can give, complete care and attention to every aspect of the jewel and gemstone. For example, a gem mounting where the entire opal doublet stone is bordered with metal will reduce the chances of water or other liquids seeping in from the sides. Most jewelers avoid such gem setting as it requires more gold (or silver) and also, calls for skilled craftsmanship to get a nice and neat border. Prongs are the easiest to set for the jeweler but offer the least gem protection, this is a golden rule that you should keep in mind for all jewels. Advanced features need to be incorporated into designing, placing and setting prongs if you want good durability for the jewel.

We do hope that the above report on opal doublets has been interesting and useful. Most gem and jewelry buyers do not care to explain facts to buyers. They are either too busy trying to make a sale or worry that complete disclosure could discourage buyers. The fact is that the buyer is spending money and has a right to know all details. It is also true that a better understanding of the gem and jewel will allow the buyer to take better care and get longer satisfaction from owning the gemstone or jewelry. Directstones provides opals and other gems in all shapes and sizes. Every gem is handpicked and custom cut, and we do not stipulate any minimum order requirements in terms of quantity or value. You can even request for one single gem to be custom cut to your requirements. This online gem resource is managed by Kaisilver, the world's leading online custom jewelry provider. You can therefore order just the gemstone or request, for a complete jewel to be custom made according to your design or ours. All jewellery is custom made in gold or sterling silver with gems and design of your choice. We prefer to provide information to buyers and let them make their own decisions based on facts. If you need any information or would like to clarify any doubts related to gems or jewelry, email us at sales@kaisilver.com We will be glad to help and you will never be under any obligation to make a purchase.


Related Resources: African Opal Rough    Opal Gems    White Opal Gemstones


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