Boulder Opal from Yowah opal field,Australia
Boulder Opal Matrix from the Yowah region

What is Rough Matrix Opal?


The term ‘Matrix Opal” describes the opal that has flecks of color running throughout the body of the boulder opal ironstone. This material is available form time to time and is great for making matching pairs or carving as well as pendant and ring stones.  We will complete this article as time permits, with pictures and more descriptions so in the meantime please contact us here for more information about matrix opal.

Matrix Opal comes in different forms

Boulder Opal Matrix from Winton opal field,Australia
Boulder Opal Matrix from the Winton area

There are many different types of matrix from Winton and Opalton to the north in Western Queensland down to the southern fields of Yowah and Koroit and other smaller mines. Although the field share matrix with one another, sometimes producing material that looks like it came from a different mine, the fact of the matter is that you really never know what you are going to find. Having said that, Yowah and Koroit are famous for their interesting shows of banded color with all sorts of shapes and patterns that just amaze you, while generally speaking you are more likely to find full clean faced opal color in the Quilpie and Winton regions. Below is an example of the extremely hard high polish achievable from Koroit matrix in the form of a carved fish. It is also a good example of the fascinating shapes and colors of this material.

Matrix is the ‘Mother’ of the precious opal color

The ironstone is the medium by which the color is ‘held’ but instead of extracting the color from the mother (giving birth to it) the color of matrix opal is polished WITH the ironstone as the pictures here show. Thus, an amazing feature is demonstrated. Often these wonderful stones have a personality even more fascinating than the full opal stones themselves.

Opal carving from Koroit Matrix Australian opal fields
Tropical fish carved from Koroit Matrix

4 Responses to “Matrix Opal Rough”

  1. Kieran Smith

    Hi Peter and Cindy,

    I arrived home last night after being away for a week to find your parcel on the bench. What a delight to find the opal roughs you sent, I didn’t expect such visible and vibrant colour!! I have to admit this is a new experience for me.

    After years as a practicing dentist ( naive about opals and gems) and now what they so call ‘ retired ‘ I miss the hours I spent in the lab casting, grinding and waxing. So I have been looking for some ‘ hobby therapy’ outside of my other interests which will let me utilise those finite hand skills. Opals, I believe, are the answer. Actually, can’t wait to start practicing.

    I viewed at the CD last night and, Peter, it is really well compiled and informative, great job!

    I still have no idea how I browsed your site, wasn’t even looking for opals/gems, but am extremely thanking I did. Very exciting.

    kindest regards

    Kieran

    Reply
    • admin

      Kieran! Wow, THAT was a really nice plug for http://www.opals.co Thanks so much for your kind words. Hope you double your money on the parcel and get some real fun out of cutting it. Dentist eh? Well you are well ahead of most of us in the lapidary scene that’s for sure. You should get into using dremmels as soon as possible. Maybe you have some flexi drive equipment left over from the dental days. Anyway, lets talk more about that. i can send you some special information just for cutting boulder opals. Well Kieran, i wish you were here in Australia right now. I have a mouth full of teeth needing attention after chomping at too many hard lumps of food over the past 50 years or so. Haa. But most other parts of me still work ok. Please contribute more to this forum Kieran and let us know how you are going. Wes, the site manager will probably figure out a way that we can post some pictures here as well so we can see how you are going. Best wishes Kieran! Hey, where do you live? So i don’t have to look up the emails. Lazy Australian :)

      Reply
  2. Anita Groeneveld

    The matrix opal does look like this other matrix to me
    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=the+matrix&hl=en&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=MBR_UaPxL-WjiAevuYHgDg&sqi=2&ved=0CFIQsAQ&biw=1366&bih=681#imgrc=uuSzRh4xuBGugM%3A%3BZGf7qf4pdooWbM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252F4.bp.blogspot.com%252F-v6mzllgkJlM%252FTm-yiM4fPEI%252FAAAAAAAAE34%252F7-BEetlvyHo%252Fs1600%252Fmatrix1.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fnuit-blanche.blogspot.com%252F2011%252F09%252Fmatrix-factorization-linkedin-group.html%3B1024%3B768

    Reply
    • Peter

      haaa…yes you are right. well matrix opal was around a long time before the movie. by the way, do you know where the word comes from? no cheating! but i will give you a clue. it has something to do with ‘mother’ peter

      Reply

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