Opal Doublet as the name suggests, is a thin layer of precious Opal cemented onto a backing, usually a piece of common Black Opal or Ironstone. They were originally created from Opal that was perhaps too thin to produce a solid stone. Opal doublets are a cheap and inexpensive way to buy a colorful piece of precious Opal without the cost of a solid Opal. Some of the patterns and the brightness of the Opal doublets is incredible.
Imagine taking a thin piece of opal maybe only a few mm’s thick and gluing it to a thicker backing. This is exactly what an Opal doublet is. The easiest way to detect an Opal doublet is to turn it on the side and look for the join between the Opal and the backing. This is also an important time to mention Opal Triplets. Like an Opal Doublet, a Triplet is made by gluing Opal to a sold backing. However if the Opal is extremely thin sometimes a clear cap is placed over the Opal. The cap can be made of Quartz of plastic sometimes even plastic.
Opal doublets are generally set onto strong Ironstone backing which is a brown in colour. The thin slice of Opal is enhanced by the brown Ironstone and greatly increases the colour of the Opal. A slice of Opal in a doublet is a lot thicker than a Opal Triplet.
Other material such as Black Opal potch can be used as well as plastic. Ironstone is by far the most common choice because it is a natural stone and it can be found in abundance.
Opal doublets are ideal to make matching sets of Opal earrings, pendants or rings as it is easy to match the colour closely. In nature it is very rare to get matching opals, so doublets are popular in the opal industry to make matching sets.
When opal doublets are used in jewelry you will most likely find a bessel set. This is where the metal is rounded up and over the opal. This has the 2 effects
It hides and protects the join between the natural Opal and the backing
It gives the illusion of a large natural solid Opal
Opal doublets originally were made in Lightning Ridge, Australia by using opal crystal and set on natural Black Opal potch. These days the ability to make opal doublets is shared across the world and Ironstone is also used for the backing.
Opal doublets are just as strong as a solid opal but because they have been ‘glued’ together with a backing piece of Ironstone it is important not to clean your piece of jewelry with ultrasonic cleaners or strong chemicals. Simply wipe over with a cloth and warm soapy water.
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