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Opal Basics 101: What Types of Opals Can You Buy?

January 23, 2015

An image of Australian boulder opals from Queensland for opal jewelry

With such a spectacular array of colours and patterns available, it can seem like there are endless types of Australian opals out there. But the gemstone can be broken down into three basic forms – solid opals, doublets and triplets.

SOLID OPALS

Solid opals are gemstones that have come straight from the ground as a rough piece of opal, which has then been cut and polished to perfection.

There are three main types of solid opals – black opal, white/light or crystal opal, and boulder opal.

BLACK OPAL

Found only in Australia, mainly at Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, this magnificent and rare gemstone is the most valuable form of opal, and is ablaze with rich and vibrant colour set against a dark body tone.

WHITE, LIGHT or CRYSTAL OPAL

Found mainly at Coober Pedy and Mintabie in South Australia and White Cliffs in New South Wales, this type of opal features a brilliant spectrum of colour set in a white, light or crystal stone.

BOULDER OPAL

Found in Western Queensland, this beautiful variety of opal is similar in appearance to black opal but forms naturally on a brown-red coloured ironstone or ‘boulder’, which is usually included in the cut gemstone.

DOUBLET & TRIPLET OPALS

Doublet and triplet opals are known as composite stones, and comprise a slice of opal layered with other materials to create the look of a natural solid black opal.

A triplet is a thin slice of colourful light opal sandwiched between a clear domed quartz capping and a black backing, which is usually a layer of dark non-precious opal known as ‘potch’. A doublet is similar to a triplet but without a quartz capping.

Doublets and triplets are not classified as manmade but are sold worldwide as an affordable, acceptable and popular alternative to black opal.

Now you know more about the types of Australian opal, why not explore the full range of solid opals, doublets and triplets in our opal jewellery and gemstone collection?





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