Australian opals form around 95 percent of the worlds opals and the majority of these come from the town of Cooper Pedy in South Australia.
Australian Opals are very popular with tourists and overseas visitors and one can buy them either loose or within jewelery such as rings, pendents, broaches, tie clips etc.
It is important to understand the different types of opals available and to know what you are buying when you buy an Australian Opal.
Here are some examples of Australian opals to look out for.
Black opals come from Lightening Ridge, an Australian Town in New South Wales, and is the rarest of the opal family. They are usually solid and shaped like a bar or bars of various colors.
Boulder Opals are next and found also with a variation in colors are found in various forms and colors with smooth or uneven surfaces. The link on the right gives much information about boulder opals.
Light opals tend to show a full range of colors, swirls and flashes in a background of white or light blue anbd ate quite attractive. They make good gems for gold and white gold jewelery.
Doublets, on the other hand, are made out of thin slices of quality opal glued to a black backing of glass or ironstone. Although they resemble the natural black opal or boulder opal they actually contain less opal and are much cheaper.
A triplet is made of three pieces similar to a sandwich. A flat thin slice of precious opal is glued on to a darkened common opal, glass or porcelain. A dome of clear quartz crystal is then cemented to the precious opal with a clear resin. A doublet opal, which has more opal content, is more valuable than a triplet. This is worth less than a full opal of course and is something one should check for when buying opals.
Common opals are considered of non-gem quality and may comprise several varieties. Most are opaque and none show “plays of color”. They also are much cheaper.
When buying Australian opals always check the opal and, if possible, get an independent examination if it an expensive and rare opal. It may save you money when buying an Australian Opal!