Monarch Opal - A New Man Made Synthetic Opal

Monarch Opal - A New Man Made Synthetic OpalThis new man made synthetic opal is popular in low end silver settings as the designs and patterns look amazing with veined potch lines. Many online sites and retailers sell it as Monarch Opal and do not inform buyers if it is man made, synthetic or natural. When buyers ask about this opal in a setting they are told it is simply Monarch Opal. It has also been given the names of Galaxy Opal, Monet Opal and Exodus Opal.

To be accurate, this Opal is actually called Sterling Opal. The names above such as Monarch Opal are trade names given to the different varieties of Opal that they can create.

Many synthetic opals have unnatural appearances and the developer of this opal has gone to considerable lengths to make veins and patterns as close to natural a s possible. The Monarch Opal is created by the same man that developed the Zachery Process for Turquoise. His name is Jim Zachery.

The potch lines are black and are random like a natural opal, and some patterns are like snake or honeycomb pattern that is in Ethiopian opal. The moulds are 40 mm in size for the mixture to grow in. Nano silica in micro spheres in silica are grown and no dyes are used to make these opals. This makes the opals similar but different just like natural opal with veins and patterns and different light reflection patterns. Monarch Opal - A New Man Made Synthetic Opal

Rough Monarch opal is available and thick 10mm slabs, which is hard to find in nature. Some monarch opal is plain and no distinct pattern, so can be bit confusing. Monarch opals are not allowed to be sold on Opal Auctions and our Opal Sheriff program, which is operated by gemmologists, monitors so that none are listed. Monarch opal has been tested by GIA to be a synthetic opal

Monarch Opal - A New Man Made Synthetic Opal

GIA Testing

Synthetic opal is required to have the same composition as the natural opal except made in laboratory and not by mother nature. Other names Monarch opal is called are

  • Cultured Opal
  • Lab Opal,
  • Simulant opal
  • Original synthetics were known as Gilson opals

The developer sent some samples to the GIA for testing and using their advanced technologies detected that the stones were synthetic. It is interesting to note that smaller labs will certify these stones as natural with polymer filling as can be seen below. Monarch Opal - A New Man Made Synthetic Opal

Monarch Opal - A New Man Made Synthetic Opal

Does the Color fade in monarch opal?

Most synthetic opals have dyes that fade but Monarch Opal has no dyes so it will not fade

How do you tell if the Opal has been treated or synthetic or natural?

Its combination of factors. 

A - If it’s too good to be true, it most probably is. Do not buy opal in a pub or at night time. Sounds obvious but many deals are done at night, especially tourists in Australian pubs! This old saying is still true today. If the opal is a super good deal, greed takes over and buyer will part with his money quickly thinking it is a good deal. Take your time analysing the opal and use Common sense. 

B - Feel of the opal If opal feels waxy or feels unnatural you should study further. Natural Ethiopian opal does have bit waxy feel to it and synthetic feels light weight more than natural opal. Online the opal looks more glossy

C - Pattern and Shape Study the pattern as good patterns are rare in black opal and good patterns are expensive like harlequin or mackerel patterns, so if pattern is uniform it is an indication also that maybe man made

D - Even oval cabochon opals are rare to find and manmade ones do have more glossy appearance on top. Monarch does have natural potch lines and the base can have different pattern to the top

E - Bottom of the opal Most synthetic stones also have beautiful base, which really does not happen in nature. Most synthetic opals have obvious laboratory look as duplicate of top but Monarch opal can have individual patterns top and bottom

F - Source Who is selling this opal? As natural good opals are so rare you would expect to buy only from miner or opal wholesalers So if seller is based in Asia or hobby online site it would most likely be 99% a treated opal or man made.  Check if the seller has product knowledge and is in the opal industry as a professional seller. Ask seller if he is a member of an Opal association and this is very important as scammers do not belong to any organization

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