I use Opals a lot in my designs so I thought it was time to talk about the different types of Opal available and what I use in my handmade jewelry.
The first type of Opal to bring up is the coveted BLACK OPAL. Australia has a great wealth of opals still hidden in the more remote and forbidding parts of the continent. Black opal is the most rare and valuable of all opal. It is SOLID and generally found as a bar (or bars) of various colors in a dark body (black, blue, brown or grey). Some black opals have a complete rainbow of colors while others have deep blue-green hues. Perhaps in the future, but at this point I have not used Black Opal in my designs.
Light opal is also classified as a SOLID opal. Coober Pedy, Andamooka and Mintabie in South Australia are the most productive mines for light opal. A full range of colors swirls and flashes in the depths of a light opal. The background color may be white or light blue. Light crystal opal is translucent and shows colors sharp and visible below the surface. When clear and colorless, this form is referred to as ‘water’ or ‘jelly’ opal.
A doublet opal is not a solid opal: doublets are made of thin slices of fine quality opal (generally light opal) fused to a backing piece of black potch, glass or Queensland ironstone, thus resembling natural black opal or Queensland boulder opal. This is the type of Opal I usually use in my designs. It has the appearance of a very expensive Opal without the high price tag.
A triplet opal is not a solid opal: triplets are made of three pieces, rather like a sandwich. Firstly, a flat thin slice of precious opal is glued on to a backing of common opal, glass or porcelain that has first been darkened. A protective dome of clear quartz crystal is then cemented to the precious opal with a clear resin (glue) to complete the triplet opal. A doublet opal is more valuable than a triplet because it has a greater opal content. I have used these in my designs before in rings because the Opal is protected for every day wear. However, 90% of the time I use a Doublet for it’s beauty.
Boulder opal is also classified as solid opal. It occurs as thin veins of precious opal in the cracks and cavities of light and dark brown ironstone boulders in Queensland. The opal flowed into the cracks and fissures in the boulders in liquid form millions of years ago. With the passing of centuries, the liquid material formed into solid opal and now miners cut these stones into magnificent pieces with the natural host rock left on the back. Just started using this type of Opal this year (2011). I love it for it’s raw, earthy appearance. Very Unique and I’ve been using it a lot lately.
YOWAH NUT OPAL
There are also the famous nut opals, known as ‘Yowah-nuts’ and unique to Queensland. These smaller ironstone concretions up to 5cm across may host a kernel of solid opal or contain a network of thin veins of opal through the ironstone. The best development of this variety of opal is at Yowah, hence the name ‘Yowah-nuts’. Had to bring this one up because I’ve used it in a few rings recently! Very Cool!
So there ya have it! There are a few more varieties of Opal, but I wanted to focus to the main ones and the types I use in Patrician Art. So, All the Opals I use are real. I think that the synthetic ones (man made) are too perfect and look fake. To me I prefer nature’s non-perfect way of creating unique beauty. I hope you feel the same & enjoy all of my new OPAL JEWELRY for 2011! Visit www.dev.patricianart.net to see my HANDMADE, ONE OF A KIND, OPAL designs!