Have you ever noticed that all of the rough opal shown on Opal Auctions is wet? Have you ever wondered why? Some people believe it is deceitful or that the water is used to enhance the color of the Opal. We are here to assure you that it’s not. Lets investigate.
It is common practise on the Opal fields in Australia for opal miners to show each other their rough opal finds. When opal first comes out of the ground it does not have the typical opal play of color that we are used to seeing. The reason is because when most of us think about an Opal we picture the polished final product. It is this polishing that really highlights the play of color in an Opal.
Since the opal is rough and it is dusty and dry you cannot see any color of the opal. So miners would stand in a group and each would lick their opal to expose the colour. Licking the Opal would reveal the true color of the opal and would respresent what the Opal would look like once it is cut and polished. The miners would then share the opal around for all to make approvals or comment.
You can imagine how flus and colds were spread at a camp sites. In winter most opal miners would get sick. Also at the sales area in the town, the opal sellers would also lick their opals to show color. Even buyers would handle the opal and then lick it to see the color clearly.
Unfortunately, this process of licking or spitting on the rough still exists today in the opal fields. One buyer bought a small water spray bottle so that they could spray the rough first instead of licking it. This is a much more hygienic way to check the color in the Opal.
Parcel lots are normally carried around in buckets with water so it’s easy to view and appraise the opal.
The Opal fields of Queensland also offer rough opal sprayed with water. However the Opal from Queensland is very different to the Opal from other areas because it is opal in the host rock being ironstone. An experienced buyer will follow the opal color vein to see where the opal will lay so water is not much help. It is hard to determine the value of the stone if the color bar has not been exposed.
Ethiopian opal rough is also offered wet. Since it is hydrophane opal it can change its color when it absorbs the water. Hydophane opal can have different brightness and patterns from wet to dry. It also depends on temperature and humidity where the opal is situated. We always recommend testing Ethiopian rough hot cold before cutting so if any cracks you can cut around them. If any doubt do ask for dry image as well from seller and ask it be left dry overnight.
Our seller have permission to offer images of rough opal wet to help expose the colour to buyers. If the opal was shown dry the buyer will not see much color. We also note that some buyers receive the rough and mention it does not look like the images. This is due to the rough being shipped dry instead of wet. When wet it will look the same as the listing and once it is cut it will have the same color shown in the wet rough opal photos.
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