Sunday, June 11, 2017




































JElly opel

Black Crystal Opal

Ask a gem collector which variety of opal is the most prized in the world and chances are pretty good you’ll get the right answer: Australian black opal. But don’t ask which kind is the next best. The answers you’ll usually hear—Australian semi-black or boulder opal—are wrong.
Collectors can be excused for not knowing the runner up in value terms to black opal. Unless they’re connoisseurs, they may never have heard of the world’s second most valued opal. Called black crystal opal, it’s also from Australia. But unlike, say, boulder opal, which is a distinct variety of this gem, black crystal opal is more akin to a sub-species. Indeed, most opal guidebooks classify black crystal opal between well-known black and semi-black when it comes to both value and regard. So how come few people know about it when it’s so highly esteemed?
That’s a tricky question, one whose answer sounds like a Zen riddle. Collectors do know about crystal opal, only they don’t know that they know.
Unless explained by an expert, black crystal opal is very likely to be mistaken for black, semi-black or even gray opal. That’s because most people who have seen black crystal opal probably weren’t told what they were looking at.
The same goes for light crystal opal—even more so. Since crystal opal occurs in both light and dark forms, and since light (or white) opal is a jewelry store staple, the odds are great that jewelers may have sold light crystal opal without labelling it as such.
But now that black crystal beauties from Lightning Ridge, Australia’s most famous opal mining area, are more available, consumers should take note of this stunning opal.
Great Balls of Fire
The name opal is a shortened version of opalus, a Roman coinage that sums up this gem’s chief aesthetic attribute: color play. Perhaps the best description of opal ever penned is found in Pliny the Elder’s treatise from 79 AD, Natural History, which devotes a volume to gems: “For in them you shall see the living fire of ruby, the glorious purple of amethyst, the sea-green of the emerald, all glittering together in an incredible mixture of light.”

crystal opal

White Opals


FAQ: What is a white opal? What colour are white opals? Where are white opals mined? What is the value of a white opal?


Also known as 'milk' or 'milky' opals, Australian white opals are distinguished by their pale white or light body tone, indicated in the below chart under "light opal". As with any kind of opal, white opals can display any colour of the spectrum in a beautiful play of colour.

White opals are much more plentiful and common than other kinds of opal like black opal and boulder opal. Often white opals will have white potch (colourless opal) left on the back of the stone, however sometimes the entire stone will consist of colourful opal.

Because of their pale body tone, white opals generally have less vibrant colour than boulder opals and black opals. They do not have the advantage of having a dark or black background which enhances the stone and makes the opal colour stand out.

Examples of White Opal


By comparison, white opals are the least valuable form of opal. This is partially due to the fact that they are the most common form of opal, but also due to the lack of darkness in the stone which leads to the more vibrant colour in boulder opals and black opals. Opals with a very white body tone also tend to have very pale colour. However, good quality white opal can be incredibly beautiful, and may fetch prices up to AUD $200 per carat. There are many factors including brightness and pattern which determine the overal value of opal. Read more in our article on the value of opal.

A Word on Crystal Opal

Crystal opal refers to any kind of opal which is partially or fully transparent or translucent. However, there is a fine line between white opal and crystal opal. Sometimes there is only a mild or medium translucence which may lead to the opal being classified as either a white opal or a crystal opal, or even a "white crystal opal". Even some of the photos in the above examples are partially translucent and could be classified as white crystal opals.

When a white opal is partially translucent, it often enhances the clarity and vibrancy of the colour, and thus the value of the stone. Therefore a white opal which has some of the properties of a crystal opal will often have a higher value. More information about crystal opals is available in our crystal opal article.


White opals are found in South Australia in the major opal fields of Coober Pedy, Andamooka, and Mintabie. Find out more about these places in our article on the Australian opal fields.

Black Opal Buyer's Guide: Beware of fakes and treated stones!

If you are thinking about buying a black opal, this guide is for you and you NEED to read it.  For those of you looking to buy a rare black opal here on ebay, there are a good number of natural, true black opals for sale.  
However, there are also an untold gazillion number of stones offered for sale as natural black opals which, in fact, are opals that have been smoked and/or treated and are not worth what natural untreated black opals are worth. These smoked/treated opals are in many instances offered for sale by sellers with very high and good feedback. These treated stones are worth pennies on the dollar, unless of course you are properly informed and still want to buy it, then it is worth whatever someone is willing to pay.   

 I have a great many friends who are and/or have mined and dealt in Australian Opal, and myself have dealt in and cut natural black and other opals, and I have also mined and dealt with Black Opal from Virgin Valley, Nevada, in the United States, for years.  Thus, I have seen and handled a lot of opal, and have enough experience to write my findings on the matter to educate you.   

 The purpose of this guide is to inform you of these facts and give you the knowledge to make informed decisions. You should educate yourself in this regard to know what is real black opal from what is fake or treated.  Keep in mind that true, natural precious black opals are very rare, and until very recently were found in only two deposits in the world:  several fields in Australia, and Nevada in the United States.  In the winter of 2014 GIA reported about the discovery and occurrence of natural black opal from Ethiopia in the Winter 2014 issue of Gems & Gemology Magazine ( GEMS & GEMOLOGY, WINTER 2014, VOL. 50, NO. 4). This deposit is south of the Wegel Tena (Welo) opal mines.  Keep in mind that true black opal will be expensive, starting at $40.- USD per carat for low quality cut stones, to $13,000.- per carat (or more !) for the highest quality cut gems.  Source:  Opal Identification and Value (Revised Ed., 2003, by Paul Downing/Majestic Press, p.100).   Black Opal from Australia, and particularly the Lightning Ridge fields, is the most valuable and reputable around.  Second to that is the dark greybase opal from Mintabie in South Australia.   The Virgin Valley black opal from Nevada in the United States is considered to be the most beautiful, but rarely produces gems that are stable and won't crack in time, and thus most (but not all!) Virgin Valley opal is considered to be specimen material (that can still cost many thousands for a stone in a wet dome).  Dark caramel and chocolate colored stones have been found in Ethiopia at Shewa, but these opals for the most part are not "black" and have the same stability problems that the opals from Nevada do.    By now everyone knows of the breathtaking opals that are coming from Wello (aka "Wollo") Province in Ethiopia.  These are mostly crystal, fire, cream, and white base opals.  What has been occurring for some time now is that these Ethiopian Opals are being dyed and/or "Smoke" treated to enhance the background color (changing it from light to dark black) and are being passed off and sold as "natural" black opals.  This is not the case!  To see what natural opals, (including black opals) look like, and their comparative pricing, see my " Beautiful Opals" Collection here on Ebay, which features natural opals that I have found across Ebay.  I have also created the collection "Natural Black Opals."  This will give you an idea what you are looking for.  To see what treated, smoked and/or dyed black opals look like, see my "Smoked & Treated 'Black' Opals" collection here on Ebay.  You can see the difference in the base color and patterns (and price!!!, in most cases).  You can read one of the online lab reports by searching on google for: 

"   stonegrouplabs SmokeTreatmentinWolloOpal.pdf   " 

which should turn up the report, or simply google search "ethiopian smoked black opal" which should turn up results.   It is not my intent to harm any sellers by posting this information, but rather to provide this information to the public so that they can make knowledgeable decisions about what they are purchasing.  Many dealers are offering these smoked/treated opals as natural black opals (some going so far to offer free lab certificates with a purchase) and you need to be aware of the facts so you know what you are buying.  Keep in mind that now there are natural black opals from Ethiopia, but don't expect to get real Ethiopian Black Opals cheap; natural black opals, regardless of origin, are going to be costly.  

Where To Dig For Opals In Idaho

Once in a while you take a summer vacation where everything just seems to work out right. This was one of those vacations. In addition to learning where to dig for opals in Idaho, we also learned where to dig for sapphires in Montana. In our travels, the opals came before the sapphires. I think I would recommend that sequence for just about anyone.

I have no idea of how many opal mines there are in the state of Idaho. When I think of Idaho I think of potatoes, which is not really fair to the people of Idaho, whose state is home to national parks, rivers, mountains, government research facilities, and more stuff than I can name or imagine. The Apollo astronauts trained for their moonwalks in Idaho’s Craters of the Moon park. You can hike through dormant volcanos. There’s lots to do in Idaho and I never really knew that.

Now, Idaho could be just another stop on the highway of life but it seems like a fair chunk of people chose to stay there and do a little bit more than just grow potatoes. I had friends who were staying in Idaho for a while and so I arranged my travels to allow myself time to commune, confer, and otherwise hobnob with my fellow wizards of the road. Let’s not get into the fact that I missed the mark by a couple hundred miles.

So there I was in Idaho Falls, surrounded by countryside and highways without a thing to do for a day or so. I decided to look up a few state activities and attractions to see what I could do — especially if there were something I could do that you really could not do elsewhere (or much of elsewhere at any rate). And that is what led me to opals.

It’s not like you can just go rock hunting and find opals lying around your back yard. You have to know where the opals grow and how to pick and harvest them. It might seem odd to speak of growing opals and harvesting them but that is truly what it is like. Opals, being minerals, formed deep in the Earth through millions of years of inanimate evolution. According to this site, opal is formed by silica deposits that are carried down by water to fill voids or gaps in the Earth.

The process continues today, and you can see that when you’re digging for opals.

After searching for places to dig for opals in Idaho, I chose Spencer Opal Mines, LLC. Located on Interstate 15 just south of the Idaho-Montana border, Spencer Opal Mines is actually not an opal mine. Yes, there is a mine but the mine is located elsewhere. What you find at exit 180 on Interstate 15 is the Opal Country Cafe and Gift Shop, which has a huge pile of rocks in the back. It turns out, that’s all you need if you want to dig for opals in Idaho. Now, I don’t know how the other mines do it but the Spencer Opal Mine digs up a huge load of rock, brings it to the pile behind the cafe, and dumps it there.

You then pay $10 per person to go look for opals on the pile of rocks. It’s that simple. In fact, it’s so simple many people feel a little sheepish by the time they finish their dig. Let me ‘splain.

You look up the Web sites for these gem-digging places and they tell you to “bring a hammer, a bucket, a chisel” or whatever. What they don’t tell you is how easy it can be (no guarantees) to find opals without cracking open a single rock. After all, the rock is already broken up by the mine owners.

Spencer Opal Mines, LLC is owned by A.J. Couture and his wife Claudia. A few days each year they actually open up the mine to the public and let you go dig out your own rocks. You might have better luck doing that but I’m not inclined to find out. Instead, we just went to the big pile of rocks behind the cafe.

It looks daunting. You see all these rocks, some black and some pink but most a whitish gray color, and you think, “I’m not going to find anything”. We asked the staff at the cafe how easy it is to find opals in the rocks and they said most people come away with something. There were a few happy, excited, tired customers weighing out their rocks when we arrived. It seemed like a promising venture.

So we joined another couple out on the rock pile. The gentleman was busily pounding away at rocks with a geologists’ hammer and his wife was scouring the rock pile for promising samples. We set to work beating our rocks with a hammer. What follows is my own personal experience and does not necessarily reflect in any way on others who may have thoroughly enjoyed themselves (not that I really had such a miserable time at all).

The sun was in the sky. The afternoon was warm. The rock pile was hot enough to bake cookies, but we weren’t baking cookies. I looked around the edges of the pile for the biggest rocks, thinking maybe no one had gotten to them yet. I had a nice little pile of rocks on top of the rock pile when A.J. came out to see how we were doing.

He’s a nice gentleman, bearded, tall, and a bit portly (I can say that, being somewhat pudgy myself). “How are you doing?” he asked us.

“Okay,” we said uncertainly. Well, actually, we were not doing okay. He came over to look at our rocks and said, “I’m afraid all you’ve got is some rocks here.”

Sweat was pouring down my face by this point and I’m not sure if it was due to the heavy labor of carrying 30-40 pound rocks up to the top of that pile or from shame and embarrassment. A.J. bent down, picked up a stone about the size of his finger, and handed it to us. “This is what you’re looking for,” he said.

It was that simple. The raw opal is not polished of course but it’s whiter and smoother than the other stuff surrounding it. I’m no geologist but I would guess that a lot of the stuff we were culling from the pile was either failed opalized mineral or pre-opalized mineral. Maybe in a million years or so those rocks could have been opals. Maybe in ten million years they’ll turn into something else we cannot imagine, since they are no longer in the opal mine. Maybe they’ll just be rocks that wear down and become part of a larger sediment deposit.

A.J. gave us a quick lecture on opal digging. I missed most of it because I noticed he had something we did not: a spritzer bottle. “I notice you don’t have a hammer,” I said.

“Nope. All you need is some water,” he replied. I ran into the cafe and asked the girl there if she had a spritzer bottle I could buy.

“Sure. Right on the wall behind you,” she said with such practiced ease I immediately felt like Ricky Ricardo driving through a small town. The staff looked at me with an odd, curious glint in their eyes.

“Is the water extra?” I asked half-seriously, and they all laughed.

“No,” said one lady. “There’s free water out back by the rocks.”

So I hurried out back, filled up my spritzer bottle, and began spraying rocks. By this time A.J. was teaching the other couple a few tips. I tried to listen as I crept around the rock pile spraying water on the dirtiest rocks nature had ever made. Let’s face it, I don’t do this for a living, so I’m bound to make a few mistakes.

We added a few wet rocks to our pile and A.J. came back over to see how we were doing. By some odd chance I had picked up a huge chunk of rock about the size of a baby’s fist and maybe half of it was opal. “That’s exactly what you’re looking for,” A.J. said. He bent down and picked up another small rock and handed it to me. “This is opal, too. But most of these stones have no color. If this one did I would keep it.”

I couldn’t understand what he meant by color. And it’s his rock pile so I guess he’s entitled to keep whatever he finds, but watching him harvest opals from the rock pile is like watching children pick strawberries from a commercial farm. He never misses.

Scampering across piles of rock in the hot sun is not the most fun I could imagine having, but finding some real opals is kind of fun. I went back inside the cafe and asked if they had a hammer or something (because I thought you still had to crack the rocks). “No hammers left,” the girl said, but she sold me a little three-pronged rake-like gardener’s hand tool. “You can use this to turn the rocks,” she said.

Now, I paid more for the spritzer bottle than I did for the hand tool. Take that into consideration. Nonetheless, our opal digging companions looked at my little rock turner with some envy and exasperation. They got a spritzer bottle out of their RV but they were mostly depending on the hammer. We were mostly depending on our hammer, too.

By this time the sun was wearing me out. Okay, lugging all those rocks, running back and forth between the rocks and the cafe (and walking the dog every now and then), and actually bending over to look at rocks was taking its toll on me. I finally gave up, bought some cold drinking water, and brought a folding camping chair out to the rock pile.

While everyone else hammered and turned rocks I sat there sipping on cold water, catching my breath (by the way — we were about 7,000 feet above sea level, so the air was a little thin), and recovering my strength, I decided to look at our rocks. We had a few in our bucket, including the opals A.J. had found for us. I picked up one of his opals and held it up to my eye.

For the tenth or twelfth time I noted how white and smooth the opal was compared to everything else. He kept saying to me, “What you have there is too gray — that’s not opal.”

Exasperated and feeling doomed to failure I held that opal close to my eye and looked past it at the rocks. I almost immediately spotted something similar a few feet away. Grabbing the spritzer bottle I cleaned off the whitest portion of the stone (which was about the size of my finger tip) and felt the surface. It was smooth. I held it next to A.J.’s opal. The minerals looked identical.

“It can’t be this easy,” I thought. Still, I took the spritzer bottle and the opal around the rock pile and just scanned for the whitest white I could find. I saw another stone almost immediately. Upon closer examination, I found I had another opal. “He’s just got a practiced eye and I got lucky,” I said to myself.

Nonetheless, within thirty minutes I had found another half dozen opals and probable opals with nothing more than a spritzer bottle and a rock turner. What are the hammers for?

Well, as it turns out, some of the larger rocks have a fair amount of opal in them. You need to chip away the non-opal portion of the rock to get to the opal. Sometimes you split the rock the wrong way and the opal breaks. You want at least as much as about a “finger nail’s size” of opal in order to get a good polished stone. Otherwise it’s just another pebble you can put in your fish tank.

Toward the end of our afternoon (we spent maybe 2-1/2 hours on the rock pile) the lady from the other couple came over to show us something. “This piece is too small,” she said, “but this is what we’re all really looking for.” She held up a stone the size of a small finger tip and at the very edge of the stone was the solid milky white opal. It was way too small, but this opal was different from the others. This opal had color. It glistened like a little rainbow was painted along its edge. I’m pretty sure you could see the full visible color spectrum in the stone.

Now I understood why people spend so much time digging for opals. If you could find a fair chunk of colored opal, someone will pay you good money for that.

We packed up our tools and took our bucket of rocks to weigh in. We had barely a pound of opals after throwing back most of our early finds and one huge rock with a big line of opal running through it. After some pounding and chipping we got the rock down to 2 pounds and I gladly paid an extra $8 for a nice paperweight.

All that work had made me hungry, though, so we stayed at the cafe for dinner. We ate simply, just a hamburger and cheese burger with fries. The burgers were good — very well made. Absolutely delicious.

But the fries — oh man, you know you’re in Idaho when you eat these fries. They were homemade french fried potatoes, cut long and thick and cooked to perfection. It was almost wrong to try to season them. They weren’t heavy and oily like a lot of fries. They were so much better than what you’ll get in your favorite steak house or 5-star restaurant. These were the real McCoy, the food that Idahoans don’t ship out of state.

If you visit Spencer, Idaho for nothing else, the fries are worth the trip from any part of the continental United States. Heck, they have a map in the back of the restaurant with pins from all over the world. People come from the far side of the globe to visit this place. I’m sure some of them dig for opals. I suspect a lot of them have taken home memories of the best french fried potatoes in the world.

The cafe is also part shop. You can buy opals there, jewelry, fossils, and all sorts of little knick knacks. I guess A.J. or Claudia like fantasy because they had some dragons on the shelf. I could not help but take as many pictures as possible. There were carved stones, stone mosaics, and things I cannot name or describe. If rock hounds turn their noses up at this stuff because it’s in a store, they are purists. The rest of us can stop and enjoy the beauty that nature and man made together.

There is nothing else to do in Spencer, so far as I could see. But if you have always wanted to try your hand at digging for opals, then mark this spot on your map. There may be other opal mines in Idaho, but I have no idea of how to find them. Frankly, I’ve about had enough of digging on rock piles to last me a life time, but at least I can now say I’ve done it. I can only imagine what it must be like for someone who has to do this kind of work for a living, especially in countries where about all they give you is a pick axe, a hammer, and if you’re lucky a water pitcher.

How Minerals Form

Scientists have identified something like 4,000 natural minerals in the Earth and most of them were formed right here on Earth by decaying critters, plant-life, and microbes. Complex minerals may be the result of multiple processes. Silica and carbon seem to be the most common bases for many minerals.Inorganic minerals like opals are formed by silica (Silicon and Oxygen — aka Silicon DiOxide) or other elemental compounds. Organic minerals are formed from the remains of dead plants and creatures. They are composed of or include hydrocarbons. Organic minerals may have a crystalline structure and behave like inorganic minerals in other ways.
Stuff lives and then it dies, and dying this stuff leaves behind its physical husk and that husk goes into the ground. The process happens even in the ocean, where 65,000 whales die natural deaths every year and sink to the bottom of the ocean. Whether on land or in the sea the remains of once living things feed other living things but at some point in the process some organic material is lost to the cycle of life.

That organic material piles up, day by day, year by year, eon by eon. Water flows through it, over it, around it, bringing sediments from other areas that were once living things. And the Earth itself pushes up molten rock and lava that mixes with, surrounds, cooks, and processes the organic stuff. Somewhere along the way, water, heat, and pressure combine through millions of years to create organic minerals.

How to Spot a Fake Opal Gemstone

Opal is a beautiful gemstone that is also quite affordable. However, a lot of the opals offered by vendors are only partially natural, and in many cases, they are fully synthetic. Let’s see what a fake opal really is and how you can detect an opal imitation.

The Structure of Natural Opal

Natural opal is a variety of silica. This stone usually contains between 5% and 10% water and is relatively soft – its hardness rating is 5.5-6.0 on the Mohs scale. Opal can be colorless or colored; its colors can range from white, yellow, orange, and red to green, blue, brown, and black.

Click here to see a collection of selected natural opal jewelry.


What Is a Fake Opal?

When referring to a stone as a fake, it is usually implied that it is made entirely of some material that is chemically different from the real thing.

Opals, however, are often not entirely made up of an imitation material. It is more often the case that the “fake” opal consists of some real opal augmented with other, non-opal materials.

Sometimes, stones sold as opals are actually synthetic substitutes.

Let’s take a look at the two main types of opal imitations:

Synthetic Opals

Usually, synthetic gemstones are not considered fake because they have the same chemical structure as their natural analogues.

Synthetic opals, however, can be thought of as imitations as they contain additional materials (such as different types of plastic) that are not present in natural opals.

Here you can see a collection of jewelry with synthetic (lab-created) opals.

Opal Doublets and Triplets

Doublets and triplets are simply opals that have a non-opal material attached to them.

Doublets consist of a real opal and a layer of another material affixed to the back of the stone; triplets have an additional third layer on the top.

Real opals, in contrast, are solid throughout and do not have any artificial additions.

Check out this extensive selection of opal gemstone jewelry.

Recognizing Synthetic Opals

One characteristic that distinguishes synthetic opals is that they are much more porous than natural ones.

Synthetic opals also have lower density compared with real opals, and for this reason, synthetics tend to be lighter.

When looked at under magnification, synthetic opals have a regular color pattern, whereas natural stones do not exhibit such regularity in their tone.

Another indication that an opal is synthetic is that it does not fluoresce when lit with UV light.

Recognizing Opal Doublets and Triplets

Doublets and triplets usually look darker and more opaque than real opal as they have a non-opal layer attached to the back. Solid natural opals, in contrast, are transparent or white.

From a side view, a real opal should look solid. Doublets and triplets, however, will look layered.

Doublets have only two layers: the real opal and the non-opal layer attached to it. You should be able to see a thin, regular line where the two layers are joined together.

Natural opals that are attached to another stone also have a demarcation line, but it looks uneven, not flat.

Triplets have a third, clear layer in addition to the second non-opal layer doublets have; in essence, triplets consist of a real opal sandwiched between a darker back and a clear top layer.

The backing of a triplet will most likely look dark and somewhat smooth, like glass or plastic.

The other side of the triplet will be covered by a transparent layer made of quartz or plastic. If you look at the stone from the side, you should be able to detect this glassy cover and see through it.


In this day and age there unfortunately is quite a bit of forgery around. When purchasing an Opal although it is a shame to say it, you do need to be a little careful. Keep reading and you will know all about Synthetic or ‘Gibson’ Opals, and also be on your way to knowing how to spot fake opals & identify that your Opal is real!

The first step is to know if your Opal is solid or is a doublet or triplet. These are not completely fake Opal but rather a combination of both real opal & synthetic material to give the impression it is solid opal. Here is how opal doublets & opal triplets are constructed from a side on view:

So how do you spot if your opal is a doublet or a triplet. Here are some stand out factors:
Body Tone:

Check to see if the Opal is transparent or if it has a white body tone. If it does then you can be pretty sure it is a genuine solid opal. Most probably a white opal or crystal opal. If it has a dark body then there is a possibility it is a doublet or triplet as they have a black artificial backing which causes a dark body tone.

Side View of the Opal:

When you look at the side of the opal check to see if it has distinct visible ‘layers’. Opal doublets are a slice of Opal attahced to a black backing while a triplet has this backing but also a third layer which is a clear, domed layer on top of the opal.

The Back of the Opal:

Next check the back of the Opal. If it looks like it has a black or grey hardish plastic coating then it most probably is a Triplet as they are often glued onto black plastic glass or vitrolite backing. A Doublet is a little harder to spot as the backing is more often a piece of natural potch (black, colourless opal) or ironstone (boulder opal host rock). The best way to tell if it is a doublet is by checking if the join between the opal and the backing is perfectly flat or curved and bumpy. Man made joins will be flat due to the two sections needing to be glued together while natural formation creates an uneven join.

Top of the Opal:

Finally if the top of the Opal looks glassy then you most probably have a triplet. Triplets are capped with hard clear plastic or quartz, so the top of the opal reflects differently to that of natural opal. Also, if you can see through the top of the opal from a side view, you are probably looking at a triplet.


If your opal becomes ‘cloudy’ after a while, you are probably have an Opal triplet or doublet. This cloudiness happens when a triplet or doublet has been worn in water over a long period of time, causing the glue between the layers to deteriorate and allow water penetration.

This is Opal that has been created in Laboratory. This synthetic opal can be very difficult to identify, if you haven’t had a lot of experience. What usually gives Gibson Opal away is by looking closely at the pattern of the Opal. If it has been created in a laboratory the pattern will display bright colours in large patches of colour.

The pattern is often ‘too perfect’ and ordered, and can also often display a ‘snakeskin’ pattern. The best way to avoid any of these problems is to always try to buy from somebody who has gemmological qualifications. Reputable dealers are accountable to their gemmological associations and may also be members of a jeweller’s or opal association.

Please note, triplets, doublets, or synthetic opals can be a great affordable substitute for natural opal. However, you should always be aware of what you are purchasing, to avoid being overcharged or misled.



FAQ : How can I tell if an opal is real? What is Gilson opal? What are synthetic opals? How can I tell if an opal is synthetic? What is synthetic opal? How can I identify opals? Is my opal real?

Synthetic Opal, Doublets & Triplets

Gilson opal

Synthetic (Gilson) Opal

Ever wondered if you're getting what you paid for? Synthetic opal does exist, as well as partially man-made stones such as triplets and doublets. In this article, we give you the low-down on how to know exactly what you're buying. (See our article on types of opal for a more detailed explanation of the difference between solids, doublets, & triplets.)

Does the stone have a white body tone, or is it transparent? If so, it's almost certainly a genuine solid, and you're looking at a white or crystal opal. All doublets and triplets are dark in body tone because they have a black artificial backing.

Look at the side of the opal - if it has distinct visible 'layers', it may be a doublet or triplet (i.e. not a solid opal) In this case, one of the layers will be a thin slice of opal, attached to the dark backing. A triplet will have a third layer, which is a clear, domed layer on top of the opal.

Look at the back of the opal - does it look or feel like a kind of hard black or grey plastic? Triplets are often glued on to a black plastic, glass, or vitrolite backing. Doublets are a little more difficult to identify, as they often use a natural potch (black, colourless opal) or ironstone (the brown boulder opal host rock) backing. In this case, look at the side of the stone again and see if the 'join' between the opal and the backing is perfectly flat (i.e. the line around the circumference is perfectly straight). Most genuine solid opals have an irregularity in this area - curved or bumpy due to their natural formation - whereas a man-made stone will be perfectly flat because the two sections are flattened so they can be glued together. Be especially wary if the opal is set in jewellery and you cannot see its back or side. Even an expert will have difficult identifying a doublet set once it's set in jewellery with the back & sides covered.

Does the top of the opal look 'glassy'? Triplets are capped with hard clear plastic or quartz, so the top of the opal reflects differently to that of natural opal. Also, if you can see through the top of the opal from a side view, you are probably looking at a triplet.

Be educated before you buy. Know what real opal looks like, and compare what you have seen to what you are buying. People have been known to set coloured tinsel or foil underneath clear plastic to make an 'imitation opal'.

Synthetic solid opal can be very difficult to identify, unless you are an expert, or have a lot of experience. Look closely at the pattern - Opal created in a laboratory (Gilson opal), displays bright colours in large patches of colour. The pattern is often 'too perfect' and ordered, and can also often display a 'snakeskin' pattern. If you are still not sure, take it to a gemmologist or an opal expert.

Lifting - If your opal becomes 'cloudy' after a while, you are probably looking at a triplet or doublet. This cloudiness happens when a triplet or doublet has been worn in water over a long period of time, causing the glue between the layers to deteriorate and allow water penetration.
Please note, triplets, doublets, or synthetic opals can be a great affordable substitute for natural opal. However, you should always be aware of what you are purchasing, to avoid being overcharged or misled.



FAQ :  How is opal valued? What makes a good opal? What are the different patterns in opal? What faults can opal have that detract from its value? What is the play-of-colour? What should I look for in a good opal? How are opals valued? Why are some opals more expensive than others?

The value of an opal depends on many factors. The type of opal, body tone, brilliance, pattern, colour bar thickness, the play of colour, and faults all play important roles in determining the value.

Other important factors include the quality of the cut & polish, and the size of the stone. When being valued, opal is carefully examined and given a price 'per carat'. The overall carat size of the stone will then determine the price of the opal.

Opal class

First of all, it is essential to identify the type of opal which is being valued. An opal doublet or triplet can be worth considerably less than a solid opal. Doublets and triplets are an 'assembled' stone which only contains a very thin slice of natural opal and are therefore generally much less valuable.

Body Tone

Body tone is one of the most important factors in the classification and valuation of opals. Body tone refers to the background or the 'underlying colour' of the opal, which ranges from black through dark to light. Generally opals with a black or dark body tone are more valuable than those with a white, light, or crystal body tone, because a stone with a darker body tone tends to display colours more vibrantly.

Above - AOGIA 1-9 body tone scale.

Black opal is the most prized opal and may realise prices over AUD $15,000 a carat. Boulder opals also have a dark body tone. White opals have a light body tone and are generally the least valuable form of opal.

The term crystal opal refers to the 'diaphaneity' (transparency) of an opal, not its crystal structure, and is defined as any type of opal which is translucent to transparent. (See image, below) Some crystal opal displays colour so intense, so dark, that the opal is referred to as 'black crystal opal.'


Above - Black Opal, Semi-black Opal, Boulder Opal, Crystal Opal, White Opal

The play of colour

The phenomenon known as the "play-of-colour" is the brilliant range of the full spectrum of colours caused by the diffraction of white light by the internal structure of orderly arrayed spheres of silica. Red (fire) opal is generally more valuable than a mainly green opal which, in turn, is more valuable than a stone showing only blue colour. Nature does not produce a red colour as often as it does a blue or green. Red colouring is caused by larger microscopic silica spheres, whereas blue is caused by the more common small spheres.


Brilliance refers to the brightness and clarity of the colours displayed by opal, when the stone is viewed face-up. This ranges from brilliant , bright , to subdued or dull.

Brilliant black opalBright black opalSubdued colour opal

Above - left to right, brilliant , bright , and subdued.


The pattern of coloured segments, forming the play-of-colour of a precious opal, is unique to every individual opal. The distinctiveness and colour displayed by these segments determines the quality of the pattern of an opal. 

Excellent patterns include;

Harlequin, large sections of colour in which each colour segment is roughly the same size and shape, like a mosaic or chequerboard. A true harlequin pattern is extremely rare and highly sought after.
Flagstone, large sections of colour with straight edges, in a random pattern
Ribbon, narrow, parallel cascading lines of rolling colour
Straw, random thin strips of overlapping colour
Chinese Writing, thin strips of overlapping colour which resemble Chinese characters
Picture stones, the intriguingly unique patterns of 'novelty' or 'picture' stones, which resemble an object, landscape, animal, person, etc.
Good patterns include;

Floral - a random pattern of colour with good spread
Rolling Flash - large sections of colour which roll across the stone as it turns
Broad Flash - large sections of colour which flash as the stone turns
Pinfire - tiny points or specks of colour
Poor patterns are indistinct, and are characterised by patterns featuring Moss and Grass.


Above patterns - left to right, Harlequin, Chinese Writing, Rolling Flash, Straw, and Floral. ( Photos by Len Cram).

Colour bar

The thickness of the colour bar in opal is relative to the overall size and shape of the individual stone. Boulder opal typically has a very thin colour bar due to the way the opal is geologically formed. This should be taken into account when valuing the stone, however makes little difference to its appearance once set in jewellery.


Faults which can detract from the value of a finished opal are many and varied. A crack in the face can render almost worthless an opal that otherwise might have been worth a considerable amount per cart. Crazing, i.e. many small cracks in the opal's face will also relegate the stone to worthless. Sand and various other minerals can be found as inclusions in and/or under the colour bar, and in the potch of opals. Other faults include potch lines, webbing, (grey lines) and windows (sections devoid or lacking in colour). The consistency of colours and pattern when viewed from different directions also has an influence - when a stone "won't face", the colour only shows through on certain angles and otherwise has little colour. The visibility of potch or brown ironstone on the surface of the stone will also lead to a drop in value.


All the above factors are taken into account when valuing opal, however there is no substitute for experience. Truth be known, there is no standardised or set method for valuing opals, as each opal is extremely unique in terms of pattern, brightness, and colouring (unlike diamonds, which can be more accurately valued according to a set chart of colours, clarity, faults, etc.) Always ask for a certificate of valuation / authenticity with your opal, and get a second opinion from an experienced valuer if you are concerned about the value of your stone.


Natural opals are those which have not been treated or added to in any way by mankind, other than by cutting and polishing. Natural opals are usually described as light, dark/black, boulder, and matrix. Although boulder opal has an ironstone backing, it is regarded as a solid natural opal because this backing occurs naturally. The variety of natural opal is determined by the two characteristics of body tone and transparency.

Body Tone - The base tones of light, dark and black opal range from colourless, white, through the various shades of grey, to black.

Transparency - Opal of any body colour will be opaque, translucent or transparent. When it is transparent or very translucent, and the colour clarity is sharp, it is often referred to as crystal opal.

Black OpalsBlack Opal is the most valued of Opals and comes mainly from Lightning Ridge. High quality stones are very rare. Easily distinguished by the blackness of the background "body tone" or body colour.

Black/dark opal shows a play of colour within or on a dark body tone, while the play of colour of a black opal is within or on a black body tone, when viewed from the face up. It can be crystal or opaque.

Some black/dark opals have a light crystal colour bar on dark opal potch (colourless opal), giving the otherwise light opal a dark appearance. Even expensive black/dark opals may have only a very thin colour bar on black potch.

Most black/dark opal is found in the mines around Lightning Ridge, NSW. Because of its relative scarcity compared to light and even boulder opal, it tends to be more expensive, given equivalent colours, clarity and patterns.

Black/dark opal exhibiting bright flashes of red is extremely rare.

Light OpalsNatural opals with a base tone ranging from colourless to medium grey are called light opal. Some people refer to these as "white" although this expression should only be used where the body colour is very milky.

Light opal makes up the bulk of precious opal. White Opal may be transparent through to nearly opaque, although it usually has a "milky" appearance and has a light body tone or white body colour.

Mainly mined at Coober Pedy and Mintabie, (South Australia) although the first deposits were found at White Cliffs (NSW).

Boulder OpalsBoulder is a variety of precious opal that has the host rock forming naturally as part of the gem. Often just a thin vein of precious opal is present. It mainly occurs in specific locations over a wide area of Western Queensland. Boulder opal occurs as in-fillings of cracks or voids usually in ironstone boulders. Boulder opal can be black or light depending on the appearance of the stone when viewed from the surface.

The popularity of this type has soared since the mid 1970s. Boulder opals are invariably cut incorporating the host brown ironstone; they are in high demand and can be extremely valuable. A variety of boulder opal also occurs in Andamooka , South Australia , where the host rock is quartzite. These are called "painted ladies", but are normally only suitable as specimens.

Matrix OpalsThe term matrix opal is commonly used where the opal is intimately diffused as infillings of pores or holes between grains of the host rock in which it was formed. Boulder matrix opal is found in Queensland and can be distinguished by the ironstone host rock.

Andamooka matrix opal is a porous material from Andamooka, South Australia, which is often treated to enhance the colour by depositing black carbon by chemical treatment in the pore spaces in the stone.

Opal Metaphysical uses

opal metaphysical

Introduction to the Meaning and Uses of Opal

Oh, the spectral delight that is Opal, the “Eye Stone.” Like lightning in a rainbow, it flashes its brilliance with even the slightest movement and claims notice by all who witness its phenomenal “fire.” This is a stone so dedicated to the eye, so pleasing to the sight, it inspires love and hope, innocence and purity, luck and happiness.

The Roman historian, Pliny the Elder, described opalus - the Opal, as a precious stone containing the fiery flame of the carbuncle (Garnet), the resplendent purple of the Amethyst, and the sea-green glory of the Emerald - all shining together in incredible union and exquisite pleasure. It was considered by all in the ancient world to be the most bewitching and mysterious of gems, worn for its virtues of soothing and strengthening the sight, healing diseases of the eyes, and capable of providing great luck, as it possessed all the virtues of the gemstones whose colors reside within it. Yet for all its beauty and enviable desire, this “Queen of Gems’” reputation, for a time, fell from grace - linked with rumors, misfortunes and mysterious fatalities. Despite the superstitions, Opal was redeemed in the twentieth century, and is today an absolute favorite gem, especially as the birthstone for those born in October. Traditionally, it is also the gift given for a 14th wedding anniversary. [Fernie, 248-249, 252][Kunz, 144-145][Lecouteux, 244][][Simmons, 289][Eason, 45]

In the metaphysical world, Opal acts as a prism within the aura, bringing a full spectrum of Light energy to the system, soothing and clearing the emotional body, and boosting the will to live and the joy of one’s earthly existence. It enkindles optimism, enthusiasm and creativity, and allows for the release of inhibitions inspiring love and passion. Opal enhances cosmic consciousness and stimulates flashes of intuition and insight, yet is a protective stone for deep inner work, meditations, and lower world shamanic journeys.    
[Geinger, 65-66][Ashian, 292-293][Melody, 452-453]

Opal is most known for its ability to bring one’s traits and characteristics to the surface for examination and transformation. Just as Opal absorbs and reflects light, it picks up thoughts and feelings, desires and buried emotions, amplifying them and returning them to the source. While magnifying one’s negative attributes may prove to be uncomfortable, it allows for understanding how destructive these emotions can be and assists the process of letting them go. Opal also illuminates the positive actions and emotions of the self, enhancing the good and true, and fostering one’s highest potential. It is a karmic stone with a reminder that what one sends out will return. [Melody, 452-453][Simmons, 292][Hall, 209][Hall En, 254]

The term opal is adapted from the Latin opalus, but is believed to originate from the Sanskrit upala, meaning “precious stone.” References to the gem by Pliny the Elder suggest it may have related to Ops, the wife of Saturn and goddess of fertility. It was also called opallios in Greek, meaning “to see a change in color,” pederos meaning “the child of love,” and paederos “the delicate complexion of a lovely youth.” The opalus came to be known as ophthalmos, or ophthalmius, in the Middle Ages - “The Eye Stone,” a term which helped in part to reflect its ophthalmic virutes. [Fernie, 248][Kunz, 146][][Megemont, 140][Lecouteux, 244]

Opal is hydrated silicon dioxide - submicroscopic silica spheres bonded together with water and additional silica, sometimes containing the minerals cristobalite and tridymite. It is amorphous, meaning it has no crystalline structure and no definite chemical composition and is therefore considered to be a “mineraloid” rather than a “mineral.” Over time, this gelatinous mix seeped deep into fractures, veins and between the layers of underground sedimentary rock, and the solidified material, Opal, formed as much of the water evaporated. In rare circumstances, Opal formed in masses exhibiting botryoidal growth, in stalagmitic form, or became replacement material in fossils. Even after solidifying, Opal maintains a water content ranging from 3% to 21% by weight, usually between 6% and 10%. 
[][][][][Lembo, 245]

Of the three basic types of Opals, “Precious Opal,” also called “Rainbow Opal,” is the rarest, mined in a limited number of locations worldwide and produces brilliant flashes or streaks of iridescent color when turned in the light, a phenomenon known as “play of color.” The color is not due to any pigment in the stone, but are optical effects created when the microscopic spheres of silica hardened in an orderly grid-like pattern, similar to layers of ping-pong balls in a box. The spacing between the spheres causes light waves traveling through Opal’s internal structure to diffract and break up into the colors of the spectrum. The size of the spheres and their geometric packing determines the color and quality of the diffracted light, and the value of the Opal. [][][]

“Common Opal,” or “Potch,” is found in many places throughout the world and forms with spheres of unorderly sizes or stacking, and does not exhibit play of color. It usually has a milky or pearly luster, known as “opalescence.” The third type, “Fire Opal,” is a transparent to translucent Opal with a body color of vivid red, orange or yellow, most commonly mined in Mexico. It typically shows no play of color, though occasionally a stone will have a weak display or exhibit bright green flashes. [][][]

Opals form as colorless, white, yellow, red, orange, green, brown, black or blue, and may be transparent, translucent or opaque. They have a brittle tenacity and are usually cut en cabochon to show their full play of color. Solid Opal refers to stones consisting wholly of Precious Opal, while thin, but beautiful layers are sometimes made into doublets (with a supportive backing), or triplets (having a backing and a crystal dome over the top for protection). Opal is the national gemstone of Australia who produces 97% of the world’s supply. These Opals are formed in a sedimentary environment and are highly stable and resistant to breakage. Other Opal forms from volcanic processes and is called hydrophane for its ability to absorb water; these Opals are porous to varying degrees and more prone to crazing or cracking. [][][][]

Some of the most common varieties of Opal are listed below with brief descriptions and a summary of their metaphysical properties:

Andean Opal or Peruvian Opal - Common Opal from the Andes Mountains of Peru; translucent to opaque, soft pastel blue, blue-green or pink with a pearly sheen, sometimes cut to include the black or beige matrix in the more opaque stones. Andean Opal is considered to be a gift from Pachamama, the earliest Inca Goddess of Fruitfulness and Mother Earth, and is wonderfully soothing for children and animals, and adults overwhelmed by life. It is particularly useful for healing old emotional wounds, from this life or another, bringing an inner peace to carry one through difficult times. Andean stones promote right action for the highest good and stimulate connection with others and communication from the heart. They increases awareness of the need to heal the Earth, and are useful for those who manifest and transmute the changing vibration through their own body. Andean Opal is an excellent journeying stone, highly receptive, inducing a mild hypnotic state for enhancing divination and metaphysical gifts. These stones carry Water energy, and are great for activating the Heart and Throat Chakras.

Black or Precious Black Opal - Precious Opal with a dark body color, usually black or dark gray, deep blue or green; the deep body color makes the iridescent play of color strikingly different from light Opals. The majority of Black Precious Opals come from Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia and are the most famous and sought after Opals in the world. Black Opal is considered to be extremely lucky and the most uplifting of the Opals, bringing Light into the aura. It eases distress and dissolves depression and hopelessness, helping one face their darkest fears and to release that which is holding one back. Linking the Root and Crown Chakras, Black Opal connects one’s highest spiritual aspirations with one’s physical body, making it a powerful magnifier of intention and manifestation. It is a protective stone for deep inner work, soul retrieval or past-life recall, and can be used for “gazing” into the past, present or future. It is highly prized as a power stone for magic ritual and can be used for “reading eyes” in order to scry the truthfulness or intent of a person. Black Opal is a Storm element stone of death and re-birth, and utilizes Fire energy.

Boulder Opal - Precious Opal that forms within voids or fractures of its host rock, usually ironstone or sandstone, and because the veins are quite thin, is cut with the stone left on the back for support or as layers of Opal within the matrix stone.  Mined in Queensland, Australia, each finished piece is unique and special. As close-to-nature talismans, Boulder Opals carry not only warm Earth energies, but also the illuminating energy of Fire. They assist practical people in developing their spiritual sides, and help spiritually minded people succeed in the everyday world. Boulder Opals are great for reconciling conscious and unconscious thought, bringing clarity and emotional security, and assist those who find it hard to put down roots to establish a stable home environment without sacrificing a spirit of adventure. Use these stones for perseverance when the going gets tough, and hold in earthy places to connect with earth and plant spirits.

Common or “Potch” Opal - Opal found in many locations around the world that is generally opaque and does not exhibit play of color. It forms in nearly all colors, has a lustrous sheen, and can be cut into gemstones that accept a high polish. Common Opals are magnificent for metaphysical purposes, vibrating at a lower frequency than the transparent or fiery Opals, and provide gentle, nurturing support for the emotional body. They help alleviate worry, chronic stress and depression, and are perfect antidotes for sleeplessness and nightmares, and healing subconsciously held pain. Common Opal combines Earth and Water energies, and may be used to balance the male/female energies within the body, and to both align and balance the chakras. Stimulating the proper flow of energy through the physical body, Common Opal facilitates attunement with the higher self and the ethereal realm, bringing a calm, centered mind for prayer and meditation. These lovely stones can attract angelic beings and are ideal gifts to leave for them in some unseen spot.

Crystal Opal - transparent to semi-transparent Precious Opal, with an exceptional play of color; the “see-through” body color can be colorless, light or dark. Crystal Opal is an extraordinary stone of health and healing, supporting the entire being. It brings high spirits and a deep feeling of joy and exuberance to one’s life. Utilizing the element of Fire, it inspires cleverness, imagination and creativity, art and poetry, and helps one understand that which will continue to exist after the completion of one’s “stay” in the physical body. Crystal Opals may be used for “gazing” and to stimulate visions from within the realms of eternity.

Ethiopian Opal - hydrophane Opal that forms in nodules within volcanic ash in seams between rhyolite layers. It occurs in a variety of colors and patterns and usually displays brilliant flashes of color. The new Opals from the Welo district of Ethiopia discovered in 2008 have proven to be extremely stable despite their porosity, able to absorb water and change transparency or opacity, then revert back to their original state with no adverse reaction or cracking. These stones are marvelous for utilizing Water energy, the energy of stillness, quiet strength, and purification. Metaphysical healers may be more familiar with the original red or brown-based Ethiopian Flash Opal discovered in 1994 at Yita Ridge, the high-vibration Fire energy stones of ancient wisdom that burn off karma from the past and open the way to rebirth. These stones carry a soul holograph and lend access to the past, present and future, stimulating all of one’s metaphysical gifts. Activating the Base and Sacral Chakras, these are joy-filled gems, uniting all the subtle bodies into equilibrium so the whole body functions harmoniously. Ethiopian Opals carry positive dragon energy, for both personal and planetary use.

Fire Opal or Mexican Fire Opal - a transparent to translucent Opal named for its body color of vivid red, orange or yellow, usually without opalescence or display of color; the most significant sources come from Mexico. Specimens with iridescent flashes are referred to as Precious Fire Opal, or “Firmament Stone.” Fire Opals utilize the elemental energy of Fire to awaken one’s passion, from bodily desires to spiritual ecstasy. They stimulate the Base and Sacral Chakras, activate one’s chi, and can give rise to the kundalini energy. They are perfect for stimulating the triple-burner meridian in acupressure/acupuncture. Fire Opals attune to the creative energy of the Universe and promote the expression of one’s emotions through art. Ideal stones for business endeavors, Fire Opals draw in money, facilitate change, and usher in progress. They make excellent charms for those who wish to be independent and live by their own rules, and for those who wish to make their mark in life, either personally or professionally. Fire Opals protect against danger, and are especially empowering for removing oneself from situations of injustice or mistreatment, and may be used to release deep-seated feelings of grief, even if these stem from other lives. Wear to become more optimistic, socially outgoing and confident.

Girasol Opal - a true Girasol Opal is a bluish-white translucent Opal with reddish reflections and a bluish glow or sheen that follows the light source as the stone is turned; because of its gelatinous appearance, it is sometimes called “Jelly Opal.” It is not a play of color as seen in Precious Opal but rather an effect from microscopic inclusions. The two most notable sources of this Opal are Oregon and Mexico, sometimes referred to as Water Opal when it is from Mexico. The term “Girasol Opal” has been mistakenly and improperly used to refer to Fire Opals, as well as a transparent to semi-transparent type of milky Quartz from Madagascar called Girasol Quartz, Blue Opal Quartz, or Madagascar Star Quartz that displays an asterism, or star effect. True Girasol Opal is an emotionally comforting stone, enhancing communication, and bringing solutions to difficulties. It helps bring untruths to light, especially where they could not have been spoken of in the past. Girasol increases connections between members of a soul group, conveying the beneficial support for one’s present life, and dissolves imprints on the etheric blueprint, restoring cellular memory. It aids one in separating psychic impressions from one’s own feelings, strengthens boundaries and teaches one how to be secure in one’s own right. Gridding with Girasol Opal creates a quiet space in which to work and meditate.

Green Opal and Prase Opal - green varieties of Common Opal, the first being a mixture of Opal and nontronite, the second being Opal containing nickel. Both are cleansing and rejuvenating stones, bringing energy and quick recovery from illness, exhaustion or mental angst. Whether helping one to unburden the heart or providing assistance in relationships, Green Opals have the ability to filter information and reorient the mind, giving meaning to everyday life and bringing a spiritual perspective. Green Opals activate the Heart Chakra and utilize Wood energy, the energy of family and health, prosperity and abundance.

Hydrophane Opal - a milky variety of Opal that turns translucent or transparent when immersed in water (hydrated). The term “hydrophane” comes from the Greek words meaning “water-loving” and describes their ability to absorb water and change from opaque or semi-translucent, to translucent or even transparent. They may emit streams of bubbles and even the appropriate sounds as they gradually become clearer. Sometimes this highlights the play of color within the stone, while in rarer cases, may hide the color play. After removal from water, the Opal will dehydrate and return to its original state, ranging in time from minutes to more than a week, depending on the stone body type, size and environmental conditions. Hydrophane Opal varies widely from source to source, so it is important to learn the characteristics of gems from a particular mine rather than consider them to be alike in appearance and in tolerances for this process. Hydrophane Opals are marvelous for utilizing Water energy, the energy of stillness, quiet strength, and purification.

Matrix Opal - Precious Opal interspersed within a host rock, usually ironstone or sandstone, where the Opal occurs as a network of veins or an infilling of pore spaces; usually displays “pinfire” color in the natural state. The most famous Matrix Opal comes from Australia, most notably from Andamooka as well as Queensland, including “Yowah Nuts” from the southwestern Opal fields near Queensland. Yowah Nuts are small rounded pebbles of sandstone infused with Precious Opal. Honduras Black Opal is also a Matrix Opal of basalt sought after for its black body color and pinfire flashes. Metaphysically, Matrix Opal intensifies all experiences, deepens emotions, and brings comfort during fear or grief. It assists one in remaining centered during decision-making and brings clarity to problematic situations. A beautiful stone for calming the inner soul, Matrix Opal engenders emotional balance, helping one to love their body and earthly existence, and to recognize one’s true desires, aspirations, ambitions and dreams, and work toward fulfilling them. Utilizing both Earth and Fire energies, Matrix Opal can be used to access one’s spiritual guides and animal guides, and may be used in medicine-wheel ceremonies to stabilize energy and promote contact.

Milk Opal - generally Common Opal, though the name is sometimes applied to milky-white Precious Opal, or cloudy Opal with a light background. Milk Opals were called the milk drops of the Mother Goddess in a number of cultures, and serve as special talismans of protection, nurturing and support. They soothe and clear the emotional body, and stimulate hope and optimism, boosting one’s joy and will to live. Milk Opals encourage one to be open-minded and accepting of oneself and others, aids communication efforts and enkindles companionship. They help create a warm, safe environment, and are ideal for those who care for babies, children, mothers in distress, or anyone who is vulnerable. In the workplace, Milk Opals are good for calming angry people, especially in areas of customer service, helpdesk or helplines.

Moss Opal or Dendritic Opal - milky white to brownish Common Opal with dark-green moss, tree or fern-like inclusions (dendrites) of various silicates, hornblende or manganese oxides; shows no play of color. Dendritic Opals are excellent for getting in touch with the environment and for communicating with Nature spirits. They promote growth, both physically and spiritually, and can provide help when needed in entering relationships and group dynamics, allowing one to remain open and approachable in spite of bad experiences. Dendritic Opals serve to heal wounds from the past, or past lives, and bring the ability to approach others without prejudice. They are great for enhancing the achievement of personal goals and bring abundance and prosperity to one’s life.

Oregon Opal - a unique variety of transparent to translucent Opal found only in Opal Butte, Oregon that is surprisingly clear and flashes dusky blue-violet or yellow-orange opalescence when faceted; not to be confused with the Common Opal and other varieties that are also mined in Opal Butte. Discovered by a shepherd over a century ago, this Opal was marketed by Tiffany’s and avidly sought after at the turn of the century. Oregon Opal carries the energy of Fire and is a highly spiritual stone, allowing one to move between dimensions and past-life exploration for karmic healing. It is a stone of truth, searching out lies and delusions, both from other people and self-deception, and helps release old grief, trauma and disappointment. Where other Opal can magnify the experiences of difficult emotions, Oregon Opal gently stimulates the Solar Plexus Chakra and amplifies the joyful side of emotional release, facilitating self-expression, decisive action, and trusting one’s own guidance and instincts. It encourages one to enjoy the process and exploration of life, breaking free of limiting visions of what is possible.

Owyhee Blue Opal - Common Opal discovered near the sacred Indian springs of Owyhee, Oregon in 2003, characterized by a rich sky blue color; often translucent when first removed from the ground, but can gradually turn opaque when exposed to the air and dehydration begins. Owyhee Blue Opal imparts a high, celestial vibration connecting one to the highest angelic guidance and to one’s own spirit guides. As a dream stone, it opens metaphysical abilities, heightens intuition, and facilitates kything - two way communication with the spirit world. It is a protective stone for shamanic journeys and multi-dimensional exploration, and utilizes the calm, quiet strength of Water energy for personal empowerment. It helps overcome shyness, confusion, unfounded fears of failure and indecisiveness. Combining the pure Blue Ray of the Throat Chakra with the Third Eye Chakra, this stone assists one in drawing on one’s own power to see, speak and act with clarity, authority and confidence, without being arrogant or confrontational. It is imbued with the softness that comes from certainty and the ability to reach the goals one sets for oneself.

Water Opal or Hyalite - colorless, water-clear Common Opal with no play of color, formed in botryoidal (grape-like) masses or otherwise unusual shapes; its structure is more network-like, similar to silica glass, rather than separate gel spheres; also called Muller’s Glass. Hyalite is a most unusual Opal, representing all the magical qualities of Opal, yet encourages the individuality and inner radiance of the wearer to shine through. It is a good stone for clearing a distorted body image or self-consciousness about one’s physical appearance that prevents social interaction. It is also a stone of attraction for accumulating anything one needs, whether resources, money, or friends. Water Opal connects the Base to the Crown Chakra, stabilizing one’s mood, enhancing meditation and stimulating connection with the spiritual world. Its watery depths may be used for scrying, and can assist those making the transition out of the body, the temporary vehicle for the soul.

White or Precious White Opal - Precious Opal with a light body color, usually white, yellow or cream, with a rainbow flash of color; best-known of the Opals and most widely used in jewelry. The majority of White Precious Opal comes from Australia, most notably the town of Coober Pedy, nicknamed “Opal Capital of the World.” White Precious Opal is the happiest of the Opals, radiating optimism and good humor, enthusiasm, imagination and creativity, and invigorates anyone who comes into regular contact with its energies. Utilizing the elements of Fire and Light, White Precious Opal illuminates and intensifies all aspects of the emotional body, helping one to identify and release old wounds, fears and anger, and other patterns of negativity that harm the self and ultimately others. It then infuses the aura with a frequency of joy and nourishment, and manifests the Light of the Divine into one’s energy field. It is marvelous for connecting with angelic beings and feeling one’s spirit guides more strongly. White Opals are also a symbol of lasting love on a very deep level and are traditionally exchanged between twin souls who have existing love responsibilities to fulfill. As a rainbow gem, White Precious Opal is a wish stone, uplifting those who have suffered many disappointments to renew their faith in life; also great for reversing a run of bad luck. It is particularly lucky to wish upon an Opal if there’s a rainbow in the sky.

Wood Opal and Opalized Nature - Precious Opal which has become fossilized over time by partially replacing the organic portions of tree, plant or animal remains; these formations have been found in dinosaur bones, marine creatures, in bogs, as limb casts, or within wood structures, at times still forming the trees’ original growth rings. These talismans of Wood energy attune to the energy of growth, expansion, new beginnings, nourishment and health, and are ideal for providing the impetus to action needed to progress one toward one’s destiny. Nature Opals are stones of grounding and strength, and lead one in the search for serenity which is inherent in all life. They are ideal for removing trifling annoyances by spurring the actions needed to eliminate the situation, and assist one in dissolving worry over things of little importance, teaching one to “change what you can, and worry not about the rest.”  


Opal Uses and Purposes
Opals promote a sense of calm security, easing stress and depression, and encouraging one to stop brooding in order to better direct one’s thoughts and energies. They are antidotes to restless thoughts and racing minds that rehash the past or anticipate the future. Opals center the mind and are stones of happy dreams, particularly soothing for children and those who have always slept badly or had recurring nightmares with no apparent reason. Precious Opal relieves   any issues a child may have with an invisible or imaginary friend, and is especially helpful before sleep if the child wishes the friend to go away at bedtime. [Simmons, Ahsian, 290-291][Eason, 304][Megemont, 141]

A stone of protection, Opal is a marvelous shield to keep from absorbing other people’s negative thoughts and energies. Just as it uses interference and diffraction to produce its colors, it can also run interference around challenging people or situations that affect your mood or hurt your feelings. Opal can also provide a “cloak of invisibility” in circumstances where one does not wish to be noticed or needs to fade into the background. It is highly beneficial when venturing into dangerous places, or in shamanic work where stealth is required.  [Lembo, 245][Melody, 452][Hall, 209][Eason, 146, 304]

Opals resonate with energies of the Mother Goddess and are exceptional gifts for mothers or mothers-to-be. Gift a new piece of jewelry for the birth of each child. A tiny Milk Opal buried beneath a willow, the mother tree, or any fruit tree at full moon aids conception. As an emotional support, Opal helps overcome fears of childbirth that may prevent a woman from trying to conceive, and can alleviate overwhelming fears during pregnancy and early months of a new baby’s life. Opal is also consoling to mothers experiencing empty-nest syndrome. [Eason, 146, 159]

Opal is a seductive stone, associated with love and passion, desire and eroticism. It can be used to intensify what one is feeling and to release inhibitions; however the stone can divide and scatter energy so one should be well-centered before using Opal to explore or amplify feelings. Have other stones standing by to aid integration. [Hall, 209][Melody, 452][Hall En, 254]

Opal may be utilized to send healing to the Earth’s energy field, repairing depletions, and re-energizing and stabilizing the grid. [Hall, 209][Hall En, 254]

Opals are wonderful occupational crystals, encouraging humanitarian love and service, lightness, spontaneity and dynamic creativity. They are excellent stones for those who work in or around water, such as physical therapists who employ hydrotherapy. White Precious Opals and Fire Opals inspire all who write, dance, play music or sing, or who teach or organize creative or performing arts. Owyhee Blue Opals expand energies for channels, mediums, psychics and teachers who communicate higher guidance through speech and sound. Black Precious Opals support hypnotherapists, past-life regression counselors, shamans and others who access the deepest realms of the self and mind in order to heal. 
[Mella, 130, 132, 143][Hall, 209][Lembo, 245][Ahsian, 293-294, 296][Eason, 159]


Opal Healing Therapies - Overview
(Please note: Information on this web site is no substitute for consulting a health care professional. All information contained on this web site, including information relating to medical and health conditions, products and treatments, is for informational purposes only. Please see your doctor or health care professional before starting any alternative treatments, diets, supplements or exercise programs.)

healing power of crystalsOpal Physical Healing Energy
Opal is beneficial for the health of the eyes, hair, nails and skin, and may be used in treatments to clarify and strengthen the eyesight, and in treating disorders associated with the eyes. It may also be useful in balancing the body’s water content, overcoming dehydration or alleviating water retention. [Melody, 452][101 Hall, 144][Lembo, 245]

Opal is believed to disperse infections, purify the blood and kidneys, and to regulate insulin production. It helps reduce fever, stimulates memory, and energetically stabilizes neurotransmitter disturbances, such as Parkinson’s Disease. Opal is supportive in issues with female hormones, PMS and menopause, and provides comfort and ease during childbirth. [Melody, 453][101 Hall, 144][Hall, 209][Hall En, 254]

physical healing crystal usesOpal Emotional Healing Energy
Opal is a wonderfully supportive stone, dedicated to healing and strengthening the emotional body for those willing to peer honestly into the true self. Opal’s high internal energy brings thoughts and feelings to the surface for examination, and reveals what one’s emotional state has been in the past, or even in previous lives. This amplification and cleansing process may be intense when first working with Opal, but over time teaches one to take responsibility for one’s feelings while clearing past wounds, fears and resentments. It facilitates the letting go of negative behaviors and soothes the emotional body, helping one feel more in control. It assists one in becoming more positive and loving, more creative and spontaneous. Known as a “stone of happy dreams and changes,” Opal brings happiness from the understanding that one has unlimited potential and is inherently perfect, and that change comes with situations and actions that allow one’s aspirations to rise. [Melody, 452-453][Hall, 209][Simmons, Ahsian, 290-292]

chakra balancing with crystalsOpal Chakra Healing and Balancing Energy
Opal occurs in nearly all colors, and dominant color energies may be utilized to stimulate corresponding chakras. The brilliant play of color in many Opals are useful for activating several chakras and linking them to the Crown Chakra, infusing the aura with full spectrum Light for healing. See the Chakra Healing and Balancing section of this website for more info on which colors activate each chakra.

spiritual crystalsOpal Spiritual Energy
Opal is a marvelous vehicle for bringing spiritual Light into the aura, awakening the psychic and mystical qualities of one’s being, enhancing cosmic consciousness and raising one’s level of intuition and insight. It has been traditionally used to invoke visions, increase lucid dreaming, and as a protector and shamanic guide in journeying deep into the self for healing or in past-life regression. Opal was associated with Hermes/Mercury, who conveyed the souls of the dead to the underworld, and today aids those who must enter these realms to facilitate the crossing-over of spirits and ghosts to higher realms. [Melody, 453][Hall, 209]Ahsian, 290-293][101 Hall, 144]

As a stone of Light, Opal is ideal for attracting angelic energies and increasing communications with the Divine. It is also a water-stone, with the perfect vibration to connect with devic forces of water, including devas of the undine family, such as merfolk and water sprites. Connecting with the blue-green energy of water-based stones also allows for interspecies communication with dolphins and whales, and Atlantean mysteries can be recollected through channeling or automatic writing using this stone. [Simmons, Ahsian, 290-292][Lembo, 244]


crystal color powerOpal Color Energy
Opals are most bountiful in their color energies and may contain the full spectrum of rainbow hues. For properties of the dominant color displayed in your stone, see the Color Energy section of this site.


Meditation CrystalsMeditation with Opal
Opal promotes a calm and centered mind for prayer and meditation, allowing one to connect with the Earth and her spirit, and to experience the elemental joy of the natural world. Common Opals vibrate at a lower frequency and are tremendously grounding for the emotional body, easing stress and bringing peace and tranquility. Precious Opals carry an intense spiritual energy, magnifying emotions and allowing for deep inner work. They can take one to the roots of the psyche and are useful in soul retrieval and past-life recall. Fire Opals carry a frequency of ecstasy and can induce a passionate state of enlightenment, while Boulder Opals allow one to connect with earth and plant spirits.  


divination uses of crystals Opal Divination
Many cultures revered the Opal for its ability to open the mind to visions. Greek astrologers and mediums constantly utilized them in prophecy and for divination. [Mella, 93] Both the Australian aboriginal shamans and the Native American Indians used them in ceremonial “dreamtime” and to invoke vision quests. [Melody, 453]

The Divinatory meaning of Precious Opal: Just when you have given up, good luck makes a return appearance. Maximize opportunities to ensure it lasts. [Eason, 304]

Dreaming of Opal signifies great possessions. [Fernie, 358]


angel crystalsOpal and the Angelic Realm
Opals are highly conducive for attracting and connecting with angelic beings.


Goddess Crystals for AmethystOpal Goddess Crystals
Opal honors Cardea, the Roman Goddess of Doorways and Entry. She protects the family and children of the house, as well as keeping evil spirits from crossing the threshold.

Opal honors Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld, ruling during the cold, hard winter. Persephone is also the Greek Goddess of Spring, representing celebration and the Earth alive with new growth.

Opal also honors Chirakan-Ixmucane, the Mayan Creator Goddess; Cyhiraeth, the Welsh Goddess of Streams and Brooks; Dana (Danu), the Celtic River Goddess; and Ixchel, the Mayan Goddess of Childbirth.



There are several ways to find an appropriate birthstone. The traditional one is listed first. These are from the popular lists that most people are familiar with. The second way is to find your natural birthstone by the color wheel of life. You can click on the Natural Birthstone graphic below to learn more. Finally many people use the traditional stones of the Zodiac.

In this section you will find information on all three approaches.

traditional birthstoneOpal Traditional Birthstone
Opal is the traditional birthstone for those born in October.

Natural BirthstoneOpal Natural Birthstone.

Opals are not natural birthstones.

zodiac usesOpal  Zodiac Stone
Opal is not associated with a specific zodiac sign, but does have a strong affinity with the maternal sign of Cancer. [Megemont, 141][Eason, 140]


talisman usesOpal Talismans and Amulets
During the Middle Ages, an amulet of Opal, or one that contained Opals mixed with other gems, protected its wearer against faulty vision, while strengthening the mind and memory. [Mella, 93]

Opal was considered to be a talisman that would allow its owner to recognize his friends and enemies. In the presence of an enemy, the Opal would grow pale, but in the presence of friends or allies it would turn red with pleasure. [Megemont, 141]

Opal is amorphous with no crystalline structure. It is composed of silicon dioxide and therefore a Transformer Crystal. Transformer crystals enhance efforts to change our situations, prospects, health, outlook or relationships. By transforming ourselves we transform our lives. We learn to dance, speak a new language, grow stronger, or become a better spouse or child. Crystals with the earth power of the Transformer are excellent talismans to aid our efforts to grow, develop new capabilities and change our lives.


Feng Shui usesOpal Feng Shui
Opal is formed by and still maintains a great deal of Water energy, the energy of stillness, quiet strength, and purification. The Water element is yielding, formless and powerful, embodying potentialities unrealized, and conducive to regeneration and rebirth. It is the energy of the circle of life. Use Common Opal, and Precious Opals in dominant shades of black or blue, to enhance any space that you use for repose, calm reflection, or prayer. Water energy is traditionally associated with the North area of a home or room, and is associated with the Career and Life Path areas.

Precious and Fire Opals utilize Fire energy, the energy of enthusiasm, warmth, brightness, illumination and activity. It is Yang in nature. It is the energy of heat, action, emotion and passion - of ideas, of concepts, and sex. It is traditionally associated with the South area of a home or room, and with the Fame and Reputation area of your dwelling. Use its energy to give your life the boost it needs to enhance your standing in the community and within your family.

Some Opals also carry Earth or Wood energies. See the Feng Shui section of this site for additional info.


Lore_and _legend of crystalsOpals in Ancient Lore and Legend
Legends of the Australian aborigines say the Creator came down to Earth on a rainbow in order to bring the message of peace to all humankind. At the very spot where his foot touched the ground, the stones came alive and began to sparkle in all the colors of the rainbow, and this was the birth of Opals. [] Another Australian legend declares a gigantic Opal governs the stars, human love, and the gold within the mines. [Simmons, 289]

The Arabian nomads believed Opals were magic stones sent from heaven, infused with lightning, and fell from the sky during thunderstorms. Orientals considered them to be “anchors of hope,” and in Greek mythology, Opals were believed to be Zeus’ tears of joy after the victory over the Titans. [][][]

Many ancients believed the Storm God, jealous of the Rainbow God, broke the rainbow into pieces and when it fell to the earth it became a part of the Opal, reflecting the “rainbow fire.” [Melody, 453]

In Hindu legend, the first Opal was created when the Mother Goddess changed the Virgin Goddess of the Rainbow into an Opal because the gods Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu were pursuing her. Only on rare occasions does her rainbow self appear through the clouds and become visible. [Eason, 146][]

In Mexico, the Aztecs called Fire Opal the “Stone of the Bird of Paradise” after their feathered serpent creator god, Quetzalcoatl. It held the power to stimulate creativity and new beginnings, as well as necessary destruction. [Eason, 83] The Egyptians and Babylonians honored the Fire Opal as a most powerful light and water healing gem. [Mella, 93]

Because Opal contained the color of all gems, the Romans thought it was the most precious and powerful of all, possessing the virtues of all the gemstones whose colors reside within it. Octavius Caesar was said to have been willing to sell one third of his vast Roman kingdom for a single Opal, and the rich Roman Senator Nonius was condemned by Mark Antony for the sake of a magnificent Opal as large as a hazel nut which he owned, but refused to sell. Seeking safety in flight, he took no possessions except the ring which held the valuable Opal. [Mella, 93][Fernie, 251][Kunz, 144-145][]

Blonde maidens in Germany and Scandinavia were said to value nothing more highly than necklaces of Opals and pins for their hair, for they added magical luster to their golden locks, and as long as they wore these, their hair kept its beautiful color. [Kunz, 148][] During the Crusades, ladies gave their crusaders an Opal to bring them good fortune in battle, and Opals were often placed upon the navel of an expectant mother to provide ease in childbirth. Magic letters carved upon Opal were said to banish bad dreams and Hecate’s phantasms, and one who owned an Opal would never be arrested or held captive by any bonds. One of the most popular legends of the Opal is its notoriety as the Cupid Stone, a gem of love and romance, and one that granted wishes and personal happiness. [Mella, 93-94][Lecouteux, 244]

Since the opalus was so effective for the eyes, its name evolved in the Middle Ages into “ophthalmius - the Eye Stone” and legends grew with this connection. It was believed to prevail against all diseases of the eyes, to sharpen and strengthen the sight, and if wrapped in a fresh bay leaf and held in the hand, to confer invisibility on the wearer. It was said to cover its owner with a manner of cloud or fog that dimmed others’ eyes so they could not see or understand what was done before them, and could allow those of unscrupulous means to steal without getting caught. For this, the Opal was also called “the Patron of Thieves” or “Thieves’ Stone.” [Fernie, 248][Kunz, 148, 150][Lecouteux, 244][][Megemont, 141][Simmons, 289]

The Edda, an Icelandic poem, tells of a sacred stone called the yarkastein which Volondr, the great smith to the gods, formed from the eyes of children. Some believe this to be a round, milk-white Opal, and as the Eye-stone, during the Middle Ages it was a common idea that the image of a boy or girl could be seen in the pupil of an eye. Symbolizing hope, purity and innocence, Opal was often called “Cupid Paederos” among the Romans, meaning “a child as beautiful as love.” [Kunz, 146][Fernie, 248][]

While Opal was praised as a stone of luck and good fortune, it was also believed to be the source of misfortune and mysterious fatalities. During the Black Plague in the 14th century it was rumored that an Opal worn by a patient was aflame with color up to the point of death, then lost its brilliance when the wearer died. Opals soon became an object of dread associated with death. [] The Empress Eugenie, wife of Napolean III of France, suffered an accident in a carriage called the Opal, and from then on feared the gem. [Megemont, 141]

King Alfonso XII of Spain is reported to have been given an Opal ring as a wedding gift by a vengeful Comtesse he had previously courted, and upon giving it to his wife, she fell ill and died within months. He presented it to his grandmother who almost immediately expired, and then gave it to his sister, who died a few days later. When his sister-in-law expressed an interest he gave it to her, who, too, died within three months. Despondent, he began to wear it himself, and before long suffered the same fate. Afterward the crystal was hung on the statue of the Virgin of Almudena, the patron saint of Madrid, and the deaths ceased. It is fair to note that perhaps the fate of these unfortunate souls was due to the cholera epidemic that raged throughout the country at this time rather than a cursed gemstone. [101 Hall, 144][Fernie, 250][][]