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 Shape and Face

Most opals are cut as cabochons, beads and carvings. Fire opals without a play-of-colour are sometimes faceted.

Many cabochons are classically shaped as ovals. However in our more modern times pear and freeform shapes become increasingly popular particularly when set in attractive, individually designed jewellery.
The term freeform is usually applied to all shapes that do not have an own, clearly defined denotation like oval, round, rectangular, square, triangular, pear, cushion etc. However personally we subdivide the freeform category into freeform (uneven shapes) and fancy (symmetrical shapes but without a special denotation).

Most opals are single-sided stones i.e. with a polished face and a roughly sanded back. In many cases the natural backside consists of potch and does not show a play-of-colour at all. It also occurs frequently that the back still shows some natural remains like patches of sandstone or an uneven and pitted surface.
The appearance of the face is classified as flat, low, medium and high domed or if unevenly shaped as undulating (wavy surface) and baroque (carved face).
 

Opal with oval shape and high dome Opal with fancy shape and low dome Opal with freeform shape and undulating face Opal with triangular shape and baroque face

Oval shape,
high dome

Fancy shape,
low dome

Freeform shape,
undulating face
Triangular shape,
baroque face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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