Opal characteristics Opal classification Types of opal Varieties of opal Body tone Transparency Play-of-colour Brightness Pattern Shape and face Origin


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Opal Lexicon

Opal classification

PRECIOUS OPALS

Exhibit a play-of-colour produced by the diffraction of white light at the spaces between tiny, uniformly sized silica spheres that are arranged in an orderly, three-dimensional array.

COMMON OPALS and POTCH

Do not show a play-of-colour.

These opals may be valued for a pleasant body colour e.g. pink, blue and green (Coloured Opals) or red, orange and yellow (Fire Opals). Fire Opals frequently show also a play-of-colour in which case they are considered Precious Opals.
Common Opals may also be of interest in the form of opalized fossils (e.g. shells, snails, belemnites, bones, teeth and wood) and as pseudomorphs of opal after glauberite crystal aggregates (Opal Pineapples). Such fossils may also exhibit a play-of-colour and be classed as Precious Opals. Furthermore Common Opals may be praised for dark dendritic inclusions which resemble the patterns of mosses, ferns or trees (Dendritic Opals) and for an optical cat's eye effect (Cat's eye Opals) that is due to many fine, parallel arranged needle or tube like inclusions (this effect must not be confused with a rolling flash). Also black potch may be used as the backing of doublets and triplets.

 

Precious Opal Common Fire Opal Cat's eye Opal Opalized Potch Snail Fossil

Precious Opal

Common Fire Opal

Cat's Eye Opal

Opalized Potch Snail Fossil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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