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What is the Difference Between Precious and Common Opal?
珍貴蛋白石和普通蛋白石有什麼區別?
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difference between precious opal and common opalIf you know opal for its rainbow-like iridescence, you may be confused to see other opal stones not displaying this phenomenon. It’s important to know that there are two main types of opal: precious and common. Precious opal’s ability to show play-of-color is the key difference between precious opal and common opal. 

Opals are often called chameleon gems because they come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors. Popular types of opals include crystal opal, black opal, and water opal. Many lesser-known species exist as well, like the volcanic opal called Tintenbar.

The average gem-lover may know opal as the October birthstone or Libra zodiac stone. Maybe you’ve heard the superstitions about opals being “bad luck?” Well, superstition is exactly what it is. Opals are full of positive energy and have been around for centuries. 

In the modern era, scientists and gemologists have been able to reveal many of opal’s long-held secrets.

One key discovery is the difference between precious opal and common opal. 

Today, we’ll break down everything you need to know about the two key types of opal. Along the way, we’ll answer all your pressing questions, like how to identify common opal and which opal is best.

First up, let’s discuss common opals!

44.5 Cts Dendritic Turkish Opal BU631Dendritic opal (pictured above) is a type of common opal that doesn't show any fire or play of color.

What Are Common Opals?

Common opals, or potch, are the more abundant of the two types of opals. The easiest way to describe this type of opal is to say what it’s not. Common opals are any opals that do not show play-of-color. But what is play-of-color?

Play-of-color is an optical phenomenon specific to precious opals. The stone’s surface displays flashes of various colors that can change based on the viewing angle.

Since common opals don’t show play-of-color, they’re not as instantly recognizable as precious opals. If you’re wondering how to identify common opal, the easiest method is a scratch test.

Common opals often look similar to other stones like jasper. However, common opal is significantly less durable than most gemstones, ranking at a 5.5-6 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. That means you can scratch this gem’s surface with a basic pocket knife.

Another identification method is by weight. For example, if you have an opal and a quartz stone of roughly the same size, the opal will be noticeably lighter.

If a common opal is fractured or broken, the inside will have the same shiny luster as the rest of the stone. Similar stones like agate have a more waxy internal luster when broken.

Common opals may not show play-of-color, but they still form in gorgeous hues. Pastel varieties include soft pinks, greens, yellows, and blues. White opal is the most abundant color, while black opal and red opal are the rarest.

Feeling confident in your identification skills? Great!

The next stop on our journey through the difference between precious opal and common opal is all about the iridescent precious opal.

N4 - 5.51CTS QUALITY CRYSTAL OPAL GEM GRADE STONE INV-1482A striking precious opal crystal from Lightning Ridge (picture above) exhibiting vivid play of color.

What Is A Precious Opal?

As we’ve discussed, precious opal is distinguished by its ability to show play-of-color. But how does it work? What causes play-of-color?

The reason for the gem’s play-of-color has been theorized by various scientists since the 18th century. The true cause wasn’t discovered until 1966 when two Australian scientists, John V. Sanders and Peter J. Darragh, figured it out.

Based on Sanders and Darragh’s research, play-of-color occurs because of precious opal’s internal structure. 

All opals are composed of silica and water. At a microscopic level, the silica is in spherical shapes. With common opals, the spheres are disorganized and uneven. Precious opal’s silica spheres are all the same size and arranged in a neat grid. 

Wayne Sedawie here at Opal Auctions attributes the play-of-color to the “ѕіlіса ѕрhеrеѕ dissecting light on its раѕѕаgе through the gеmѕtоnе and turning it into all thе соlоurѕ оf thе rаinbоw.” Most precious opals won’t show every color of the rainbow, but they will show at least 3 colors.

There’s more to this stone than its attractive iridescence, however. Precious opal’s body tone, which comes from impurities, is equally important.

When opal forms, whether common or precious, other chemicals can get caught in the mix. When these elements get stuck inside opal’s silica spheres, they give the stone a new background color or body tone.

Precious opals can have a few different body tones, including white, black, yellow, and blue, to name a few. 

If you’re not sure what your opal’s body tone is, we’ve got you covered! Read our “Opal Body Tone Guide” to learn more.

Alright, we’re all caught up on the difference between precious opal and common opal. But did you know precious opal and common opal each have different varieties?

Types of Common Opals

Common opals come in so many colors and varieties, listing every single one would be taxing to read. Instead, we’ve narrowed down the key types you should know.

Agate Opal

Agate opal is a variety with a banded color pattern on its surface. It can form around fossils or in rock veins.

Despite the name, agate opal does not contain agate. The moniker comes from this variety’s resemblance to agate’s signature color banding. 

Utah Lace Agate Opal Slab

Moss Opal

Moss opal is found in the Ogallala Formation and contains inclusions of various iron minerals. The stone’s inclusions resemble moss’s small collection of branching tendrils.

Some refer to moss opal as “dendritic opal” because the inclusions could be called dendrites. The most common iron mineral present in moss opal is manganese oxide.

Dendtritic moss opal

Hyalite

Hyalite is special because of its clarity. While most common opals have an opaque luster, hyalite is translucent. In most cases, translucent opals are precious opals. The feature that differentiates hyalite opal from other types of common opal is its unique bulbous clusters called "globules."

Hyalite opal is much less hydrated than other forms of opal, with around 3-4% water content. The colorless variety forms in cavities of volcanic rock or in ore deposits coating secondary minerals.

Hyalite opal

Peruvian Opal

Peruvian opal refers to a category rather than a specific stone. Peru is known for producing gorgeous pastel opals. The most popular of these soft shades are pink, blue, and green.

Most Peruvian opals come from one of two provinces: Ica or Caraveli. The Ica province specializes in pink opals, while the Caraveli province produces a blue variety nicknamed “Andean opal.”

Peruvian opal

Fluorescent Common Opals

Fluorescent opal is another fascinating category. Fluorescent opals can show glowing fluorescence under UV light. The stone usually glows in electric green color.

The presence of uranium is what causes these opals’ fluorescence. Most of the gems with strong fluorescence come from Virgin Valley, Nevada.

Of course, precious opal has its own distinct varieties as well. Let’s take a closer look!

Rare Virgin Valley Opal

Types of Precious Opals

As you might’ve guessed, every variety in this list shows play-of-color. However, some opals can have a common opal version and a precious opal version.

For instance, water opal sometimes shows play-of-color and sometimes doesn’t. Black opal has a common form and a precious form.

That being said, plenty of opal varieties always show play-of-color and bring their own unique traits to the table.

Boulder Opal

Remember how not all precious opals flash every color of the rainbow? Well, boulder opal is the exception. Boulder opal’s color play flashes all seven colors of the rainbow!

Boulder opal comes from Queensland, Australia. This variety is often combined with ironstone in a matrix or layered pattern. 

Boulder opal

Precious Black Opal

As the name suggests, precious black opal has a black body tone. The stone has weak opalescence if any at all, but stunning colors.

The black base of precious black opal allows the flashes of color play to shine even more brightly. Lightning Ridge, Australia, is the primary source of this exclusive variety. 

Black opal

Crystal Opal

Crystal opal’s name is based on its translucence, as some light can pass through this variety. In fact, crystal opal’s translucence creates play-of-color on the surface of the stone and inside it.

If you shine a light through the gem, it looks like jelly, which has led some to call it “jelly opal.” The base tones are numerous, with blue, yellow, white, and even black crystal hues. 

Crystal opal

Matrix Opal

Matrix opal, sometimes referred to as “Type 3 opal,” covers a group of opals with unique color play. Unlike other opals which show the play of color across the surface of the stone, matrix opal’s play-of-color occurs throughout the entire stone.

Mined all over the world, matrix opal is found combined with host rock. Common host rocks include ironstone, limestone, sandstone, rhyolite, and basalt.

Matrix opal

Patterned Precious Opals

Play-of-color can show up in distinct opal patterns. Some patterns go by specific names and become that opal variety’s nickname.

Here are the most notable patterns:

  • Pinfire. Pinfire, or pinpoint, describes a color play pattern in small, concentrated areas throughout the opal. The pattern resembles a peppering of colors.

Pinfire opal pattern

  • Flame. Flame opal’s play-of-color is an explosive display of red bands and streaks that look like flames burning through the surface of the stone. The flames come in when you turn the stone in your hand, as the color play flashes and flickers like candlelight. 

flame opal

  • Harlequin. The most sought-after variety, harlequin-patterned opals have a repeating pattern of rectangles and diamond shapes. The mosaic design can vary, with over 12 specific designs carrying their own nicknames.

HARLEQUIN PATTERN opal

Clearly, you have a plethora of beautiful opals to choose from. So, what type of opal is most valuable? 

What Is the Best Quality Opal?

Choosing the best opal is tricky. Other gems like diamonds have quality grading systems that are consistent and simple to follow. Opal grading isn’t as straightforward.

Valuing an opal requires looking at numerous variables, some of which require subjective opinions only opal experts can give with confidence. 

When you factor in the difference between precious opal and common opal, you add another layer to the mix.

First, let’s look at common opal quality. The word “common” might make you wonder: Is common opal valuable?

The short answer: it depends. Common opal is more abundant globally than precious opal. However, certain “common” varieties are rarer than others, making them more valuable.

With both common and precious opals, the most valuable color is red or black. Among the many precious opal color play patterns, harlequin is the most highly regarded.

For any opal, brighter color means a higher value. An opal with no treatments, no inclusions, and a reputable source will always possess higher quality. 

Opal rough stones

Flaunt Your Favorite Opal!

Now that you know the difference between precious opal and common opal, you’re ready to share your knowledge and show off your favorite variety. 

Do you have your eye set on a unique common opal variety? Can’t stop thinking about one of those gorgeous precious opal patterns? We understand! 

We have a myriad of opal types for you, from opal rings and bracelets to tumbled black opal or crystal opal. 

Can’t decide? Explore our opal collection today!

珍貴蛋白石和普通蛋白石的區別如果您知道蛋白石因其彩虹般的彩虹色,您可能會因為其他蛋白石沒有表現出這種現象而感到困惑。重要的是要知道有兩種主要類型的蛋白石:珍貴的和普通的。珍貴蛋白石顯示遊彩的能力是珍貴蛋白石和普通蛋白石之間的主要區別。

蛋白石通常被稱為變色龍寶石,因為它們有多種形狀、大小和顏色。流行的蛋白石類型包括水晶蛋白石、黑蛋白石和水蛋白石。許多鮮為人知的物種也存在,例如稱為 Tintenbar 的火山蛋白石。

一般的寶石愛好者可能知道蛋白石是十月生日石或天秤座生肖石。也許您聽說過關於蛋白石是“厄運”的迷信?好吧,迷信正是它的本質。蛋白石充滿正能量,已經存在了幾個世紀。

在現代,科學家和寶石學家已經能夠揭示蛋白石的許多長期秘密。

一項重要發現是珍貴蛋白石和普通蛋白石之間的區別。

今天,我們將分解您需要了解的關於兩種主要蛋白石類型的所有信息。在此過程中,我們將回答您所有緊迫的問題,例如如何識別普通蛋白石以及哪種蛋白石最好。

首先,讓我們討論一下常見的蛋白石!

44.5 克拉樹枝狀土耳其蛋白石 BU631樹突狀蛋白石(如上圖所示)是一種普通蛋白石,不顯示任何火彩或顏色。

什麼是普通蛋白石?

普通蛋白石或potch是兩種蛋白石中含量較多的一種。描述這種類型的蛋白石的最簡單方法是說明它不是什麼。普通蛋白石是任何不顯示遊彩的蛋白石。但什麼是遊彩?

遊彩是珍貴蛋白石特有的一種光學現象。石頭的表面會顯示出各種顏色的閃光,這些顏色會根據視角而變化。

由於普通蛋白石不顯示遊彩,因此它們不像珍貴蛋白石那樣容易識別。如果您想知道如何識別普通蛋白石,最簡單的方法是划痕測試。

普通蛋白石通常看起來與碧玉等其他寶石相似。然而,普通蛋白石的耐用性明顯低於大多數寶石,礦物硬度的莫氏硬度為 5.5-6。這意味著您可以使用基本的小刀刮擦這顆寶石的表面。

另一種識別方法是按重量。例如,如果您有一塊蛋白石和一塊大小大致相同的石英石,那麼蛋白石會明顯更輕。

如果普通蛋白石破裂或破碎,內部將具有與寶石其餘部分相同的閃亮光澤。類似瑪瑙這樣的寶石在破碎時具有更蠟質的內部光澤。

普通蛋白石可能不會顯示遊彩,但它們仍會形成華麗的色調。柔和的品種包括柔和的粉紅色、綠色、黃色和藍色。白蛋白石是最豐富的顏色,而黑蛋白石和紅蛋白石是最稀有的。

對自己的識別能力有信心嗎?偉大的!

我們探索珍貴蛋白石和普通蛋白石之間差異的旅程的下一站是關於彩虹色的珍貴蛋白石。

N4 - 5.51 克拉優質水晶蛋白石寶石級石頭 INV-1482來自 Lightning Ridge 的引人注目的珍貴蛋白石晶體(上圖),呈現出生動的色彩。

什麼是珍貴的蛋白石?

正如我們所討論的,珍貴的蛋白石以其顯示遊彩的能力而著稱。但它是如何工作的?什麼導致遊彩?

自 18 世紀以來,各種科學家就對寶石出現遊彩的原因進行了理論分析。直到 1966 年,兩位澳大利亞科學家 John V. Sanders 和 Peter J. Darragh 才發現真正的原因。

根據 Sanders 和 Darragh 的研究,遊彩的產生是由於珍貴蛋白石的內部結構。

所有蛋白石都由二氧化矽和水組成。在微觀層面上,二氧化矽呈球形。對於普通蛋白石,球體雜亂無章且不均勻。珍貴蛋白石的二氧化矽球體大小相同,排列整齊。

在 Opal Auctions 的 Wayne Sedawie 將游彩歸因於“通過寶石切割它的光彩,並將其變成彩虹的所有色彩。”大多數珍貴的蛋白石不會顯示彩虹的所有顏色,但它們至少會顯示 3 種顏色。

然而,這顆石頭不僅僅具有迷人的彩虹色。來自雜質的珍貴蛋白石的體色同樣重要。

當蛋白石形成時,無論是普通的還是珍貴的,其他化學物質都會混入其中。當這些元素卡在蛋白石的二氧化矽球體中時,它們會賦予石頭新的背景顏色或體色。

珍貴的蛋白石可以有幾種不同的體色,包括白色、黑色、黃色和藍色,僅舉幾例。

如果您不確定您的蛋白石的體色是什麼,我們已經為您提供了保障!閱讀我們的“ 蛋白石身體色調指南”以了解更多信息。

好的,我們都了解了珍貴蛋白石和普通蛋白石之間的區別。但是您知道珍貴蛋白石和普通蛋白石各有不同的品種嗎?

常見蛋白石的類型

普通蛋白石有多種顏色和品種,列出每一種都會讓人費力閱讀。相反,我們縮小了您應該知道的關鍵類型。

瑪瑙蛋白石

瑪瑙蛋白石是一種表面帶有帶狀彩色圖案的品種。它可以在化石周圍或岩脈中形成。

儘管名稱,瑪瑙蛋白石不包含瑪瑙。這個綽號來自該品種與瑪瑙標誌性色帶的相似之處。

猶他州蕾絲瑪瑙蛋白石板

苔蛋白石

苔蘚蛋白石存在於Ogallala 地層中,包含各種鐵礦物的內含物。石頭的內含物類似於苔蘚的一小部分分支卷鬚。

有些人將苔蘚蛋白石稱為“樹突蛋白石”,因為內含物可以稱為樹突。苔蘚蛋白石中最常見的鐵礦物是氧化錳。

樹枝狀苔蘚蛋白石

透明石

Hyalite是特別的,因為它的清晰度。雖然大多數常見的蛋白石具有不透明的光澤,但透明玻璃是半透明的。在大多數情況下,半透明的蛋白石是珍貴的蛋白石。將透明蛋白石與其他類型的普通蛋白石區分開來的特徵是其獨特的球狀簇,稱為“球體”。

Hyalite 蛋白石的含水量比其他形式的蛋白石少得多,含水量約為 3-4%。無色品種形成於火山岩的空腔或覆蓋次生礦物的礦床中。

透明蛋白石

秘魯蛋白石

秘魯蛋白石是指一個類別而不是特定的石頭。秘魯以生產華麗的柔和蛋白石而聞名。這些柔和色調中最受歡迎的是粉紅色、藍色和綠色。

大多數秘魯蛋白石來自兩個省之一:Ica 或 Caraveli。 Ica 省專門生產粉紅色蛋白石,而 Caraveli 省生產一種綽號為“安第斯蛋白石”的藍色品種。

秘魯蛋白石

熒光普通蛋白石

熒光蛋白石是另一個迷人的類別。熒光蛋白石可以在紫外光下顯示發光的熒光。這種石頭通常會發出電綠色的光。

鈾的存在是導致這些蛋白石發出熒光的原因。大多數具有強烈熒光的寶石來自內華達州的維爾京谷。

當然,珍貴的蛋白石也有其獨特的品種。讓我們仔細看看!

罕見的處女谷蛋白石

珍貴蛋白石的類型

您可能已經猜到,此列表中的每個品種都顯示遊彩。然而,一些蛋白石可以有普通蛋白石版本珍貴蛋白石版本。

例如,水蛋白石有時會顯示遊彩,有時則不會。黑歐泊有普通形態和珍貴形態。

話雖如此,許多蛋白石品種總是表現出遊彩,帶來自己獨特的特徵。

博爾德蛋白石

還記得不是所有珍貴的蛋白石都會閃爍彩虹的每一種顏色嗎?嗯,巨石蛋白石是個例外。博爾德蛋白石的顏色發揮了彩虹的所有七種顏色!

博爾德蛋白石來自澳大利亞昆士蘭。這種品種通常以矩陣或分層圖案與鐵石結合。

博爾德蛋白石

珍貴的黑歐泊

顧名思義,珍貴的黑歐泊具有黑色的體色調。如果有的話,這顆石頭的乳光很弱,但顏色令人驚嘆。

珍貴的黑蛋白石的黑色底座讓色彩的閃光更加閃耀。澳大利亞的閃電嶺是這種獨特品種的主要來源。

黑蛋白石

水晶蛋白石

水晶蛋白石的名字是基於它的半透明性,因為一些光線可以通過這種品種。事實上,水晶蛋白石的半透明性會在寶石的表面內部產生遊彩。

如果您將光線穿過寶石,它看起來像果凍,因此有人稱其為“果凍蛋白石”。基調眾多,有藍色、黃色、白色,甚至黑色的水晶色調。

水晶蛋白石

矩陣蛋白石

矩陣蛋白石,有時被稱為“3 型蛋白石”,涵蓋了一組具有獨特色彩的蛋白石。與其他蛋白石在石頭表面呈現遊彩不同,基質蛋白石的遊彩遍布整塊石頭。

在世界各地開採,發現基質蛋白石與主岩結合。常見的主岩包括鐵岩、石灰岩、砂岩、流紋岩和玄武岩。

矩陣蛋白石

帶圖案的珍貴蛋白石

遊彩可以出現在不同的蛋白石圖案中。一些圖案以特定名稱命名,並成為該蛋白石品種的暱稱。

以下是最顯著的模式:

  • 針火。 Pinfire 或 pinpoint 描述了整個蛋白石小而集中的區域中的顏色播放模式。該圖案類似於顏色的胡椒。

Pinfire 蛋白石圖案

  • 火焰。火焰蛋白石的遊彩是紅色條紋和條紋的爆炸性展示,看起來就像火焰在石頭表面燃燒。當您轉動手中的石頭時,火焰就會進來,因為顏色會像燭光一樣閃爍和閃爍。

火焰蛋白石

  • 丑角最受歡迎的品種,丑角圖案蛋白石具有矩形和鑽石形狀的重複圖案。馬賽克設計可能會有所不同,超過 12 種特定設計帶有自己的暱稱。

丑角圖案蛋白石

顯然,您有大量美麗的蛋白石可供選擇。那麼,什麼類型的蛋白石最有價值?

什麼是最優質的蛋白石?

選擇最好的蛋白石很棘手。其他寶石(如鑽石)具有一致且易於遵循的質量分級系統。蛋白石分級並不那麼簡單。

評估蛋白石的價值需要查看眾多變量,其中一些需要只有蛋白石專家才能自信地給出的主觀意見。

當您考慮珍貴蛋白石和普通蛋白石之間的差異時,您可以在混合物中添加另一層。

首先,讓我們來看看常見的蛋白石質量。 “普通”這個詞可能會讓您想知道:普通蛋白石有價值嗎?

簡短的回答:這取決於。普通蛋白石在全球範圍內比珍貴蛋白石更豐富。然而,某些“常見”品種比其他品種更稀有,使它們更有價值。

對於普通和珍貴的蛋白石,最有價值的顏色是紅色或黑色。在眾多珍貴的蛋白石彩玩圖案中,丑角是最受推崇的。

對於任何蛋白石,更亮的顏色意味著更高的價值。未經處理、無內含物和信譽良好的來源的蛋白石將始終具有更高的質量。

蛋白石原石

炫耀你最喜歡的蛋白石!

既然您已經了解了珍貴蛋白石和普通蛋白石的區別,那麼您就可以分享您的知識並展示您最喜歡的品種了。

您是否關註一種獨特的常見蛋白石品種?不能停止思考那些華麗的珍貴蛋白石圖案之一嗎?我們明白!

我們為您準備了無數類型的蛋白石,從蛋白石戒指手鐲到黑色蛋白石或水晶蛋白石。

不能決定?立即探索我們的蛋白石系列!

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