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Matrix Opals are Unique Gems
Matrix opals are a type of boulder opal and are found as part of a host rock, called Boulder ironstone. They contain opal randomly distributed through the rock. The boulder ironstone with the precious opal inclusions are cut as one piece, giving an appearance similar to what you see when you look at the night sky, except that the ‘stars’ in this case are flecks of glories opal color
Types of matrix opals
Different types of matrix opals come from a variety of fields. Boulder matrix comes from the Queensland fields in the northern part of the opal regions in Australia. There is another form of matrix opal from Andamooka in South Australia which is treated to give it a darker background. The specimen is soaked in sugar solution and boiled in acid, which causes carbon to get deposited in the spaces in the rock, giving it a dark or black opal appearance. But the Natural boulder opal matrix, is an untreated form which naturally contains a background of brown Australian ironstone with pockets of opal in it.
Patterns seen in matrix opals
Matrix opals come in a wide variety of patterns, shapes and colors. This is seen in the famous Queensland matrix boulder opals, which are sometimes full faced matrix but are often combined with various striped and other patterns in the boulder ironstone. Matrix opals are always cut with the host rock included. They are cut in such a way that the patterns of the opal within the rock are seen. Sometimes these patterns are circular in shape with a kernel of opal at the centre as is the case with a lot from Yowah and Koroit. But similar circular patterns are found further north at Winton and Quilpie. These particular stones are totally unique and often considered collector’s items. When you see such unusual opals it’s hard to resist buying one.
Give Matrix opal to someone with a personality who likes unique or odd style things. Boulder matrix opals are a real talking point and you often hear people say “what is THAT you are wearing?”