What is Synthetic Opal?
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what is synthetic opalOpal is a naturally-occurring amorphous solid known for its flashes of fire color. An amorphous solid is a material that, unlike crystal, is not organised in a regular lattice pattern. This makes for some unusual interactions with light, and is explicable for opal’s rainbow colours. 

However, just because opal is classified as amorphous is not to say that its atoms are arranged without order. Chemists have discovered a clear sphere structure in opal, which has led to them copying it in 1974. Synthetic opal is often named Gilson opal, after Pierre Gilson, the man who invented it (along with a number of other synthetic minerals: coral, emerald, lapis lazuli, etc.). If you’re looking for someone to blame for having paid over the odds for a synthetic substance, by the way, Pierre Gilson is the man you’re looking for.


Originally synthesised in Switzerland, Glison opal is now primarily synthesised in Japan (by Kyocera and Inamori, for example). It differs from natural opal inasmuch as it is much more regular. Synthetic opal, though less desirable than organic opal in the eyes of most lapidaries, is not to be confused with imitation opal, which, unlike pure synthetic opal, is tinctured with minerals not found in actual opal. The term “Gilson opal” is usually used to refer to imitation opal, opals which are not only lab-created but contain minerals not found in actual opal (minerals such as plastic in Slocum stone, for example).

what is synthetic opal

How to Spot a Synthetic Opal

If you ever find yourself in the market for opals, you’d be well advised to bring a loupe along with you. Under a high magnification (of around sixty), it’s clear to tell by the regularity and columnar nature of the patterns that the opal is synthetic. Even to the naked eye, the columnar nature of the opal is plainly visible. With the help of a loupe you’ll be able to discern a so-called ‘lizard skin’ effect in the patches of colour. This crumbly surface is the most common “tell-tale” of synthetic opal. 

what is synthetic opal

Synthetic opals are said to fluoresce a green colour under UV light. Along with the loupe, you’d be well advised to take a UV torch along with you to the flea market (or wherever you go to get your opals). If it fluoresces, it’s synthetic; if not, it’s natural.

The Two Main Kinds of Synthetic Opal

Synthetic opal comes in two main kinds: white opal and black opal. The white opal is generally more expensive than the black, largely because the white is more natural-looking than the black.

A new man made opal Monarch opal has recently come onto the market and many people think it isa new opal, but it is man made synthetic opal.

  synthetic opal

Monarch opal has been the most confusing man-made opal so far as dark black the potch line inclusions look like treated Andamooka stone

Another man-made opal is Aurora Opal made by the German company Pinfire Gems and Colloids

These Synthetic Opals and Synthetic Impregnated Opals, Coarse and Fine Crystalline Opals have a Non-Directional Play-of-Color and are seen in lot opal bangles. They market Aurora black opal, Fire opals and Crystal opals. The Aurora opal patterns are described as Irregular and non-directional swirls.

Bello opal by Sanwa a Hong Kong based company that makes synthetic opals as well as synthetic turquoise.


Many countries manufacture opals as it is a valuable gemstone, so unfortunately we will be expecting more synthetic opals to come on line. To our knowledge China and Thailand are constantly trying to manufacture new products for this market to catch the unsuspecting opal buyer. Professional laboratories try and market their product as brand name.

Synthetic opal is available in sheets or blocks. Blocks are used to make bangles and sheets are ideal for inlay work or matching sets rings, pendant and earrings.

Warning to hobby cutters, most of these man made silica opals do have the same properties as natural opals, which can cause problems with lungs called silicosis.

Caveat emptor Buyer Beware!



然而,仅仅因为蛋白石被归类为无定形,并不是说它的原子排列没有顺序。化学家在蛋白石中发现了一种清晰的球体结构,导致它们在1974年复制它。合成蛋白石通常被命名为Gilson蛋白石,在发明它的人皮埃尔·吉尔森之后(以及其他一些合成矿物质:珊瑚,祖母绿) ,青金石等)。如果你正在寻找一个因为合成物质的赔率而受到指责的人,顺便说一下,皮埃尔·吉尔森就是你正在寻找的人。




如果您发现自己进入蛋白石市场,建议您随身携带放大镜。在高放大倍率(大约60倍)下,很清楚地说明蛋白石是合成的图案的规律性和柱状性质。 即使是肉眼,蛋白石的柱状性质也清晰可见 。在放大镜的帮助下,您将能够在色块中辨别出所谓的“蜥蜴皮”效果。这种易碎的表面是合成蛋白石最常见的“告诉”。








另一种人造蛋白石是由德国公司Pinfire Gems和Colloids制造的Aurora Opal

这些合成蛋白石和合成浸渍蛋白石,粗和精细结晶蛋白石具有无方向性的颜色,并且可以在很多蛋白石手镯中看到。他们销售极光黑蛋白石,火蛋白石和水晶蛋白石。 Aurora蛋白石图案被描述为不规则和非定向漩涡。


合成的OPAL化学组成:SiO2.nH2O +树脂




Caveat emptor买家注意!


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