What to Know When Shopping for Opal All Entries
There are some brilliant and unique gemstones out there, but there’s something truly special about opals. These stones come in a variety of shades, patterns, and brightness, all affecting how they appear, as well as how they’re valued.
We’ll take a look at what you need to know when you’re shopping for an opal of your very own.
What Makes Opals Different
Like a snowflake, no two opals are exactly the same. It’s easy to see why opals were a favorite among European royalty. The stones are incredibly varied, each one coming in its own unique color and pattern, which can change depending on the light and angle that you’re looking at it from.
Over 95 percent of the world’s opals come from mines in Australia and each area of the country produces a different type of opal. In Lightning Ridge, the incredibly rare and expensive black opals are found. Boulder opals are found in Queensland and are incredibly strong stones with natural ironstone backing. White opals are known for their ‘milky’ white tone and have more subtle colors. They’re found in southern Australia’s mines. Opals that are more translucent or transparent are known as crystal opals.
The most valuable opals are red and black. The paler stones with more vibrant colors often fetch higher prices than the more subdued toned stones.
An opal’s price is determined by a few different factors, including its color, tone, size, and brightness. Gem experts also check for faults and imperfections as well when appraising an opal.
An opal’s brightness is based on how intensely it reflects color while it’s being penetrated by light. It’s then graded on a scale as either Dull/Subdued, Bright, or Brilliant. Dull/Subdued opals are the most affordable and are more milky in color with little to no shine. Bright opals are average. Brilliant opals are the most colorful and brightest, making them the most expensive.
There are also a variety of patterns in opals that can affect their value as well. Patterns in the stone also affect how the color reflects. But be wary of what are known as dead spots. Dead spots affect the color, breaking up the pattern, and devaluing the stone.
Doublets and triplets are a more affordable way to purchase opals. They are created by putting together two or three different opals. Many of their seams are inperceivable, but these stones don’t tend to age as well. Some can become foggy or fade over time because of the glue used to put them together.
If you’re thinking of selling your own opal jewelry, contact Ralph Mueller & Associates or call us at 480.949.9229.