There are three major categories of Australian opals: Black Opal, Boulder Opal and White Opal. That said, there are subcategories and variations of opals including Crystal Opal and Red Opal.
You might not believe us if we told you there is even such a thing as synthetic, or man-made opal. Who would want to buy fake opals when naturally mined, beautiful gemstones are readily available?
Well, today we’re here to inform you on what exactly is Dragon’s Breath Opal. It’s important to know what you’re buying, and sometimes there is some confusion as to whether the stone you’re buying is in fact real, or made in a laboratory.
In this article, we’ll outline all the key criteria you need to know about synthetic opals like Dragon’s Breath Opal.
Our first order of business is to clarify that Dragon’s Breath Opal is not opal. While it does have an opalescent sheen that might trick you into believing it’s the elusive opal, it is actually made entirely of Czechoslovakian glass. Sure, Dragon’s Breath glass stones are unique in that their color shifts and changes in different lighting, which evokes an opal-like quality. Even with its transparency and iridescence, make no mistake, Dragon’s Breath “Opal” is not an opal stone.
Dragon’s Breath is actually made from glass, and is more equitable to costume jewelry than precious or semi-precious gemstones. Does that mean they are entirely worthless? Not necessarily, in fact synthetic stones can have a high price tag, especially if they are set in vintage jewelry or unique settings. However, they should not be as expensive as natural stones, and if they are, something's not quite right.
A quick google search for Mexican Opal or Dragon’s Breath opal will reveal a variety of sources selling these pieces. They are sold as loose stones or are commonly set in sterling silver rings and pendants. But just because they are readily available does not make them worth buying. Here are some tips to help you recognize Dragon’s Breath glass.
These glass stones are sometimes confused with both rubies and sapphires. Upon first glance, the glass appears predominantly red, like a ruby. However, as the stone is held and turned at different angles, a bright sapphire-esque blue flushes over the stone. Additionally, hues of soft purple flash as you turn the stone. As the colors shift and change, streaks of color within the stone flash and are resemblant of breath, hence the name.
While organic opals are mined from beneath the Earth’s surface, Dragon’s Breath Opal is created entirely in a lab. The stones are manufactured to look opalescent and mimic the qualities of natural stones.
These stones were first created in the early years of the 20th century, when a boom in production of Dragon’s breath pieces occured. Dragon’s Breath is made by adding molten metal to Czech glass to generate a fiery colored stone. However, Dragon’s Breath will never have foil as a backing for the stone. That is one way to differentiate between Dragon’s Breath glass and similar colored synthetic stones.
You may come across Mexican opals, which are also called fire opals due to their fiery red-orange coloring. However, this name has nothing to do with Dragons Breath Opal since Mexican fire Opals are natural gemstones that are found in Mexico.
If you are interested in buying Dragon’s Breath Opal just remember that it is not a real gemstone, and thus the price and description should explicitly and honestly reflect that. Sadly and all too often, synthetic stones are marketed as genuine opals when they aren’t opals at all.
Unlike natural opal, Dragon’s Breath glass lacks the most important quality that makes and opal stone unique: play of color. Play of color is a term used to describe an opal’s coloring. When you hold an opal and turn the stone to different angles, you’ll notice which colors reflect from the base color, which hues are most dominant, what patterns appear and the range of color that is visible.
Conversely, synthetic opals are not cut from the earth’s sandstone, therefore they do not have the vivid spectrum of color that only a true opal has and lack play of color altogether.
Without a doubt, buying natural opal gemstones is a far better investment than buying Dragon’s Breath synthetic glass. The bottom line is that synthetic opal is not opal. True opal has play of color, and a vivid brilliance that sets opal stones apart from any other semi precious gemstone.
If you’re interested in buying costume jewelry or vintage pieces, Dragon’s Breath glass may appeal to you. However, in the long run the better investment is to buy real opal mined from opal fields. That’s the best way to ensure you are buying the best quality stone, rather than a replica.
Also, when you’re buying opal stones, be sure to exercise vigilance to ensure you are buying true gemstones. Sadly, many synthetic opals are marketed and listed as real opals, when in fact they are completely fabricated and manmade.
That’s why it’s always best to buy from a reputable jeweler, who has proof of origin and information about the natural stone. Otherwise, you may end up paying good money for what you think is an opal stone, but is sadly a synthetic piece of glass.
And that’s everything you need to know about Dragon’s Breath glass! Did we answer all your questions? Feeling a little deceived? Don’t worry, we only sell the highest-quality REAL opal stones.
Shop our collection of natural, 100% real opal stones and jewelry.
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