Ever wondered why Opals that all show so much colour can vary in price just as much?

Well let's have a closer look...

Opal the actual substance itself is a hydrated silica that basically formed from the silica remnants of the ancient seawater that formed the low level ocean inside Australia in the Cretaceous period +-80-120 million years ago. The silica basically seeped in all the tiny cracks and gaps in the ocean bed now part of the ground level of the Australian outback.

Due to the randomness of the sizes of the gaps opal formed in thick and thin seams. this causes a lot of Opal to be very thin layers when excavated by miners and not practical to set into jewellery as is.

So the composite Opal stone was invented and also about a century ago started making most Opal practical to wear. As in the image Doublets and Triplets were formed by giving them a backing normally from host stone like Potch or Ironstone to give it structure and contrast by having an opaque backing. This is glued or cemented with the natural opal itself. Doublet Opal is thicker Opal attached to a backing therefore no further protection is needed. Triplets is usually very thin Opal that also needs a top usually clear Quartz or Plastic to magnify and protect it.

Solid Opal is more self explanatory in that it is one solid piece of Opal note though that Opal often has the host rock bonded to it naturally like Boulder Opal, Black Opal and Light Opal that is classified as a Solid. There the main difference is whether the Natural Opal is bonded to the host rock by nature or man to distinguish them.

I love the fact that I have the option to use any of the three variables as the Opal itself is still the natural Opal and it can suit any price point to enjoy the amazing play-of-colour! It is one of the only stones where you can get this phenomenon at all price points and makes it such a versatile gem. 

Solid Opal will always have the upper hand as it has a three dimensional look to it due to the depth and makes the play of colour relative to the other types so more intense. However there are always exceptions and I have doublets and triplets that I consider High end pieces with amazing play-of-colour!    


David van Niekerk