How To Choose Opal Jewelry

How To Choose Opal Jewelry

We often get asked how to choose opal Jewelry. With all purchases in life you must first decide how much you are willing to spend. If you desire a Opal ring or a pendant you may want to go for a bigger opal than if for earrings or a pendant.

In either case an Opal triplet or doublet will get you a bigger opal at a price less than a solid opal and is perfect as a gift. If you want to purchase your jewelry as a potential as set then purchase a solid natural untreated opal. For small souvenirs for friends, kids, etc triplets would be best as they provide the best value for money. Opals should be chosen based on their colours, patterns and flash and how they suit your personal taste and even dress sense.For example aglow, milky opal necklace may be arranged with a black evening dress.

Remember its your opinion and your opal. Opals are as individual as their owner, no one opals is the same, the colour, patterns and the brightness of opal need to be considered in price. Australian black opal is the rarest and most expensive whereas doublets and triplets are the cheapest as the opal has been enhanced and treated. 



One of the most beautiful color patterns with black opals is sometimes referred to as the“floral pattern”, where the colors multiply through the surface, more or less erratically.Rarer and consequently more precious patterns include the magnificent rolling sparks where a great swatch of color presents itself.

There is also the straw pattern where the color occurs as lines and is linear in its look. There are also some stones that look like Chinese characters which is very rare. Another popular pattern is the Harlequin, a checkerboard pattern which is the rarest among all. Ethiopian opals have beautiful snake to honeycomb patterns to rolling flash patterns


In valuing opal there are some rules to follow but considering that opal tends to be unique there are no solid and quick rules in comparison to other gems. Identifying the worth of an emerald-cut white diamond, for example, is easy - mass, clarity, and faults will insert up to a purposeful value. Not so with the opal, if there is one over-riding aspect it’s luminosity.

Radiant stones of any color will be more priceless than any dull stones with rare colors. In fact, red is one of the more expensive colors, the quantity of red usually enhances its value. Again, a radiant, blue-green opal with great colour play and a striking pattern will be more priceless than a less concentrated than a light orange, or red.

The more colored the stone, the more precious the opal is, despite its type. The pattern will control the value. Opals with broad areas of solid color are typically more expensive compared with those smaller areas. In a general manner, all other things being identical, black opal is more priceless than light or boulder opal.

Generally normal shapes are more expensive than rough shapes as they can be used more easily for jewelry. An exception is the boulder opal which is typically brown ironstone; this is frequently set in more uneven pieces as they tend to have unique shapes and inclusions. 

Kinds of Opal

There are four classes of valuable Opal such as the Crystal, Boulder, Black, and Milk Opal / White Opals. There are also treated opals to choose from such as triplet inlay and doublet.

Black Opal

How To Choose Opal Jewelry

Black opal is mined in Lightning Ridge, Australia and is one of the rarest opals in the world. Black opals are graded by brightness 1 to 5 with five for brightness and one for dullest. Black opal is rated for body tone N1 for darkest black colour to N4 which is the lightest black colour.

  1. Black opals that are directional are ideal a as pendant as the Jeweler can face the opal in a setting to show off the maximum colour fire.
  2. Gem fire black opal with red fire is the most expensive opal.
  3. Expensive black opals are generally set into gold rings.
  4. Cabochon with broad flash fire are ideal black opals for ring
  5. Commercial grade opals are set in sterling silver pendants or rings
  6. Black earrings are hard to find and very hard to match exactly a s there is always slight difference in black opal.

Boulder Opal

Boulder opal is mined in central Queensland Australia over a large area and is opal formed on ironstone. It is ideal to make good boulder opal pendants with large sizes.

Boulder earrings are made from splits, that is two pieces of opal split into two pieces by the opal miner to expose colour on both sides and these are generally good for matching earrings. 

Top boulder opal can have brilliant strong fire colours and these are set into gold rings

Koroit and Yowah Opal Jewelry

These opals have a magical natural pattern and have been popular due to the incredible patterns. They are commonly made into large opal pendants. For a modern opal pendant a hole is drilled through the opal and a necklace added so no silver or gold jewelry design is required for some of these opals.

Wire wrap pendants which use thin piece of silver wire to wrap around the opal are popular with younger generation jewelry buyers

Ethiopian Opal

How To Choose Opal Jewelry

Ethiopian opals have been a recent find for opal lovers. The crystal opals from the Welo region are very popular due to their bright patterns and price discount when compared to black opals

Black opals are rare from Ethiopia but many opals are smoked and these are sold as treated smoked black opal so consumers have to be wary.

Solid Opals

Can be found in Brazil, Mexico, Honduras as well as Peru and Tanzania Africa.

Opal Doublet

How To Choose Opal Jewelry

Doublet opals are thin slices opal glued onto ironstone backing and are ideal to make into opal pendants and earring as it is easy to match these doublet opals. Most doublets are set in silver jewelry but opalised shells are also made into doublets and are not flat but undulating or cabochon and these are ideal for Opal Rings in gold or silver.

Triplet Opal jewelry

Triplet opals are thin slice of opal with backing on bottom and clear top so the opal colour is greatly enhanced. Triplet opals are good value for money as the opal is bright and easy to match.

Crystal Opal

How To Choose Opal Jewelry

Crystal opals are clear opals that are transparent and can be found in opal the fields of lightning ridge and Coober Pedy, Australia. Crystal opal is also found in Mexico, Brazil and Ethiopian opal fields.  This opal can have good cabochon and be larger than black opal so makes ideal opal jewelry.

  1. Fire opal patterns are stunning in some crystal opals especially opals form Ethiopia.
  2. Crystal opals with high a cabochon make good rings as colour hues can be seen from every angle.
  3. Crystal opals are also ideal to make as matching earrings as the opal is lot easier to match and sometimes you can match earrings, pendants and ring all with same colours.
  4. Many old opals from the start of the century have fire crystal opals claw set into gold rings with diamonds.

Inlay Opal

How To Choose Opal Jewelry

Inlaid Opals are firm Opals which have been included into a set of jewelry so that the jewel’s metal surface is similar to level surface of the Opal. It can also be any class of Opal, but it is typically preferred to Crystal, Black and Boulder-Opal inlay.

Intarsia Opal

This traditional centuries old European craftsmanship is now used to make opal inlay pendants called Intarsia. It has opal crystal pieces set into pattern with other types and colours of opal or gemstones and stunning artistic scenes are created in these pendants.

Jelly Opal

Jelly opal comes either in seam or nobby form. The various grades of jelly opal can vary from radiance to classy dark opal. Though it is still jelly, they have unusual densities and colors from bright to dark. Jelly opal is a large stone especially for the opal aficionado that has got others in their collection. You don’t need to spend your money on having the most jelly opal compared to crystal and black opal.

White Opal

Even today these traditional opal rings are popular. Sometimes it is called fire opal because the mine in Coober Pedy has a lot of colour fire play. In last 20 years has been popular around the world and even old settings of fire opals from Coober Pedy have been found in England. White opal can been set with gold and diamonds in traditional design pendants

What to look when buying Opals Jewelry?

When purchasing Opal jewelry, you must consider the Opal’s kind, extent, luster, tone and pattern. As with any gemstone it typically comes down to selecting a color of Opal that you may find striking and that sustains your budget as well.

Form and Setting color:The form and amount of Opal are the main factors in identifying the significance of Opals. Gem value black Opal commands the utmost price per every carat. Black Opal, which has a shady background, is more precious compared with crystal Opal which in turn is usually more costly than milky/white Opal.

Range:With all other elements held stable, the bigger the Opal the more precious they are. As with other stones like sapphires and diamonds, Opals are considered in carats.

Brilliance:The quantity of its intensity is quite significant. The livelier the colors are, the better its worth will be. A dry stone with several or all colors will be less priceless compare with the other Opal with a solitary, animated color.

Color:Usually, the extra color within Opal is quite more precious. The prevailing colors of fire in an Opal have worth in order starting from (red, orange yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet).

Pattern:Better patterns of colors together with brightness have a big effect on its worth and attractiveness of Opals. Wide patterns or great flashes are more priceless than pinfire and small classes of pattern. Different patterns such as harlequin, regular flash, jigsaw, block and strip are usually rare. Once more, it comes down to what is quite appealing.

Cracks/Faults: Also be aware of any faults or inclusions in the stone. Any opal seller should hopefully disclose any imperfections but make sure you do not buy a stone with cracks or mistake a crack for a natural formation.


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6 people found this article helpful



I see few people wearing man made opal jewelry or synthetic opal.
Its is so bright and colourful and I do wonder, do they know its synthetic opal or not, as i always make comment on how pretty opal jewelry is.
I know opalauctions sells only real opals but think they could do more information about synthetic opals as Etsy and eBay are full of these man made opal jewelleries.
It seems selling opals unset that description   is more accurate but with jewellery I see beautiful rings and pennants and earring that are obviously man made but make no mention they are synthetic.
I just don’t like to see people buying synthetic opals and not aware of it
Thank you for posting my comments

23rd Aug 2016

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