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Opals - Before You Buy 

Some Confusing Names And Terms Related To Opal Gems 

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Though the title of this report suggests that you should read it before you by any opal gems, the information would be equally useful to opal gem and jewelry owners. The sustained popularity of opal gemstones is contrasted by lack of information related to this gorgeous gemstone. Some of the opal terms and jargon is bound to cause confusion, opal buyers might even start doubting whether the gems they purchased are worth the price paid. We will introduce to some interesting and important terminology related to opal gemstones. It is not possible to read, understand and retain all the information that is present here. We would therefore suggest that, you keep the link for this web page handy and refer to it as and when required. And if you feel that the report would be useful to your family members, friends or collegues, do not hesitate to pass on the link to them. To begin with, we will clarify that all reference to the opal gem in this report, relates to natural opals.

Hydropane Opals: This term is being increasingly heard for the past few years, it surfaced with the arrival of Ethopian opals in the gem and jewelry markets. To explain it correctly and simply, hydropane opal gems when soaked in water increase their level transparency. Another important thing is that such opal gems also loose most if not all, of their play of color and color sparkles once fully soaked. The good news is that, hydropane opal gems get back all their beauty and color flashes once the gems dry out. A small warning though, some hydropane opal gems can crack when soaked in water for too long. A good example of Hydropane opal gems are the white or brown precious opals from Ethiopia. Most Australian opal gems do not exhibit this property when soaked in water. In some rare cases, a hydropane opal could actually look much more attractive once it is soaked in water and then dried out. In no case should you try to hasten the drying of your opal by using, any type of blower or heater as this could damage the opal gem.

Assembled Opals: There is an interesting note related to assembled opal gemstones. Some of these are sold with the complete disclosure (of them being assembled) and some, are sold to innocent buyers without disclosing details. Some assembled opals called opal doublets, consist of a piece of natural opal on top and a piece of dark stone or other material at the bottom. You could have an assembled opal gemstone where, the stone is composed of three layers. Referred to as opal triplets such stones, have a slice of natural opal sealed between a transparent layer on top and a dark material at the base. In recent years, the additional layers added to an assembled opal are sometimes made from factory made materials like synthetic glass. Assembled opal gems would generally cost much less than, similar (in appearance) opals that are composed of one single piece of natural opal. The process of supporting the opal gem with additional layers, does make the gemstone tougher. In cases where the piece of natural opal displays the play-of-color phenomenon, the dark base added to the opal makes the color flashes more attractive. While opal triplet gems are fairly easy to identify even when, mounted in a jewel, the same is not true of opal doublet gems. Even a loose opal doublet gem could at times be a challenge to spot. This is especially true when the base added to the natural opal happens to be another piece of natural opal with a similar color. There is no doubt that, the seller is expected to inform the buyer when selling doublet gems. But since this disclosure is often not forthcoming, your best bet would be to source your opal gems or jewelry from the right source.

Honduras Opal: Ever heard of black honduras opals? The stone is pushed by loud sales hype on television selling channels. This opal is not composed of one single piece of natural opal, it is also not classified as an assembled opal. A ordinary volcanic rock generally with a dark brown or black color, has naturally formed opal embedded in it. The whole process is natural but, the opal specs are either too tiny or too thin to take out. Since the cutting and polishing process of these tiny specks would yield nothing, the entire stone including the rock and opal is cut, shaped and polished. Another important thing is that, the opal content in such an opal stone is very small as compared to the total mass of the rock. Selling it at a price per carat, or impressing buyers with it's massive size comes close to cheating the customer unless - it is being dumped at a very cheap price. In reality, sales commission, marketing costs etc are piled on the price tag of this stone.

Precious Opal: This is one of the most confusing terms used to describe opal gemstones. A natural opal that displays the color flashes and play of color phenomenon is referred to as a precious opal. This rather simple definition seems quite unjust to those, gorgeous and valuable fire opals and pink opal gems. Mexican fire opal which is known for it's stunning orange or reddish orange color, never attempts to flash the color of the rainbow. Fine gem quality fire opal gems can command a very stiff price. The consistently rising demand for the pastel pink opal stones from Peru, cannot put the gem in the category of precious opal just because, it does not take part in the play-of-color act. Having said that, there are opal varieties like white opal, most brown opals and black opals where, the color flashes expected to show up. Such gems carry a premium price tag as the display gets more attractive. It is therefore right to say that, some opals were bound to attract attention with their flashes and color play. Others used their gorgeous colors or serene looks to win opal lovers to their side.

Solid Opals: A piece of natural opal that is entirely composed of opal. Another condition for an opal to be called a solid is opal is that, the gem should be cut from one single piece of opal. While an opal doublet or opal triplet would be clearly outside the definition of solid opals, other interesting cases also exist. An opal that is not fully separated from the base rock when it is cut and polished, would not classify as a solid opal gemstone. This because, the piece includes some part of the base boulder rock and this material is not opal. Cleverly assembled opal doublets, where one piece of natural opal is firmly mounted another piece of natural opal would also not be a solid opal. This because, it has not been cut from one single piece of natural opal. While a solid opal gemstone would generally be more valuable than an opal that is not solid, there is a convincing counter-argument often put forward.


This report should give you the much needed information and confidence, to evaluate your options when buying an opal gemstone or jewel. While we can provide you with loose opal gems or even custom make a gorgeous opal jewel for your, we are not the only source for opal gemstones. So do look around and choose a gem or jewelry provider that makes you feel comfortable. You can always email our support experts at sales@kaisilver.com with any queries or doubts that you might have. It is not necessary to make a purchase from us so do take advantage of our expertise.  

Related Resources: African Opal Rough    Opal Gems    White Opal Gemstones


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