There are Three Main Natural Opal Types

When buying diamonds, sapphires or rubies, you have either a real one or a synthetic. But with opal you can buy an expensive solid stone, or you can buy a triplet or a doublet. Doublets and triplets are far more affordable than solid opals–and they are still real opal. So its good to get to know the differant natural opal types so you know what you are buying.

solid-black-opal

Dark and Black Opal – Natural Opal Types 1

A solid piece of opal with a natural dark or black back. This makes the foreground of the stone darker and opaque [non see-through] on top. Black and dark opals come in all color variations. This page of pendants features some black opal and opal doublets as well. you will notice that some really brilliant doublets are higher priced that some solid black opals. it all depends on the brightness and the quality of the stone itself. They are all natural opal types.

 

solid-crystal-opal

Pale Opal – Natural Opal Types 1

 

A sold piece of opal without a natural black back. The stone has a lighter, more delicate color on top. When translucent [letting light through] it is called ‘crystal’ When opaque [not see through] it’s called ‘white’, ‘pale’ or ‘milk’ opal. They come in all color variations. You will be able to see the natural  light colored opal pendant here, standing out against the dark opals in this bunch of pendants.

Boulder dark and black  Opal – Natural Opal Types 2

 

 

A solid piece of boulder opal with a natural brown ironstone back, giving it a dark opal appearance from the top. Boulder opals are also dark or black opals. They come in all color variations.Here are some examples of boulder opals that have been set ready to wear. The first three at the top are natural opal boulders. Leave a message at the bottom of this page if you want more explanation about these pendants

doublet-opal

Composite Natural Opal

A solid piece of opal cemented to a natural black [potch] backing, giving the appearance of black opal on top and is opaque. Because of this dark appearance it falls into the category of dark or black opal.  The stone is made of TWO pieces. Hence the name DOUBLET. Doublets come in all color variations.  Doublets in the form of pendants are very popular. Here are some examples mixed with solid lights and dark opals.

Composite Natural Opal

A thin piece of opal cemented to a black background with a crystal cap cemented to the top. The stone is made of three pieces. Hence the name TRIPLET. Triplets come in all color variations. They are also categorized as dark or black opals and are opaque [non see-through] So they fit in with the natural opal types because they are really made of solid crystal opal sliced into layers.  Triplets are also popular as pendants because they are still natural opal types.  The first two lines of these opal pendants are triplets.  Very popular because they are bright and inexpensive

Natural Opal Types 2

When small flecks of opal color is found scattered throughout the boulder ironstone, its called ‘matrix’  or ‘boulder matrix’ You will see an example of a boulder matrix triplet pendant set in silver in the second last row of this display of pendants on the extreme right.  Its the one with bright green flashes in a brown background

Natural Opal Types 3

Andamooka Matrix is another variety of matrix opal. In this case the potch is porous enough to allow a dark staining process to take place, making the stone dark in appearance.

So the natural opal types are Dark and black opal, Pale opal which takes in white and crystal opal, Boulder Opal which includes boulder opal matrix, and Andamooka Matrix which is a natural treated opal. Then Opal Doublets And Triplet Opals which are still natural opal but have been set in a black or dark background, giving them the appearance of black opal.

5 Responses to “Opal Types”

  1. Cristina Rzepka de Lombas

    Hello,
    There is a discussion here as one of my colleages says that boulder opal is not but a kind of matrix opal and must not be distinguish as a type. I read your book and you speak of boulder opals but not of matrix opals so now I don´t know when and if there is a distinction between then and if they both exists or not as an official clasification.
    What I have known as matrix opals are those that the opal material is scattered trough the host stone or matrix ( normally a sandstone) while boulder opals are those that have a thin layer of opal within the host rock and then is separated i two halves, and then you have one of them with the matrix and a layer of noble opal in contact with it.
    Best regards
    Cristina

    Reply
    • Peter

      Cristina, sorry for the delay in answering. The word ‘matrix’ has to do with ‘mother’ or ‘womb’ as i understand it. The term is used with opal whenever there is other material that is ‘holding’ the opal, like a mother does a baby. In the case of natural boulder opal, the ‘mother’ is the boulder ironstone which ‘holds’ the baby which is the opal. When the cutter processes this type of opal, he or she leaves the boulder ironstone at the back of the opal to give it security and brilliance, the same way as black potch is left in the rear of a lightning ridge black opal. with boulder opal, the color is often scattered throughout the body of the ironstone matrix and so the term is applied when this is the case. so boulder matrix refers to a boulder opal stone that has been cut with the color and the ironstone featured as a part of the finished gem. Hope this helps. please open up this discussion at our facebook and twitter sites, if you have time.

      Reply
  2. juan antonio rodriguez sigala

    Saludos.
    Primero Gracias por recibir mi comentario.
    Una disculpa por que no se hablar el ingles.
    Les comento que soy de un estado del norte de mexico.
    Caminando un dia por una montaña de esta zona, encontramos algunas piedras al parecer de opalo.
    Puedo mandarles algunas fotos de estas piedras para que me ayudaran a su identificacion’
    Gracias.
    Mnaden direccion de e-mail para mandar fotos.

    Reply
  3. juan antonio rodriguez sigala

    puedo mandar algunas fotos para analisis de piedras de opalo? English translation: can I order any photos for opal stone analysis?
    Saludos.
    Primero Gracias por recibir mi comentario.
    Una disculpa por que no se hablar el ingles.
    Les comento que soy de un estado del norte de mexico.
    Caminando un dia por una montaña de esta zona, encontramos algunas piedras al parecer de opalo.
    Puedo mandarles algunas fotos de estas piedras para que me ayudaran a su identificacion’
    Gracias.
    Mnaden direccion de e-mail para mandar fotos.
    Greetings.
    First Thanks for receiving my comment.
    One forgives why not to speak English to him.
    I mention to them that I belong to the state of the north of mexico.
    Walking one day along a mountain of this area, we find some stones apparently of opal.
    I can order them some photos of these stones so that they were helping me to his identification’
    Thank you.
    Mnaden e-mail direction to order photos.

    Reply
    • admin

      Sure Juan. No problems. Try to get some good pictures using a close-up (macro) camera so that i can see them properly. Just go to http://www.opals.co/contact-us/ when you are ready to send them and i will send you an email so that you can attach them to an email. here is the spanish translation of what i am saying here. it probably wont be very accurate but might help you. best wishes Juan. Peter

      Juan seguro. Ningunos problemas. Trate de conseguir algunos cuadros buenos usando un primer plano cámara (macro) de modo que yo pueda verlos correctamente. Sólo vaya a http://www.opals.co/contact-us/ cuando usted es listo para transmitir ellos y le enviaré un correo electrónico de modo que usted pueda atarlos a un correo electrónico. aquí está la traducción española de lo que digo aquí. esto probablemente costumbre ser muy exacto pero podría ayudarle. felicidades Juan. Peter

      Reply

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