Gray Reid Gallery has been sourcing the finest quality opals from around Australia. From the rare harlequin opal black opal to the more affordable white opals.
‘How to Buy Opal’ and reference a few helpful websitesFirstly the types of opal – The GIA (Gemmological Institute of America) states that there are 5 main types of Natural opal:
White or light opal: Translucent to semitranslucent, with play-of-colour against a white or light grey background colour, called bodycolor
Black opal: Translucent to opaque, with play-of-colour against a black or other dark background.
Fire opal: Transparent to translucent, with brown, yellow, orange, or red bodycolor. This material—which often doesn’t show play-of-colour—is also known as “Mexican opal.”
Boulder opal: Translucent to opaque, with play-of-colour against a light to dark background. Fragmets of the surrounding rock, called matrix, become part of the finished gem.
Crystal or water opal: Transparent to semitransparent, with a clear background. This type shows exceptional play-of-colour.
This list does not include one of the most commonly seen opal in shops across Australia, the composite opal.
The National Opal Collection’s website describe these opals as follows
The triplet:Triplets and doublets are a combination of natural opals and artificial veneers.A triplet opal is a thin veneer of precious light opal bonded to a black backing with a protective crystal dome glued to the top.
The doublet:A doublet opal is a layer of precious light opal bonded to a black backing, simulating black opal. Doublets are usually more expensive than triplets because more opal is used.
There is also another type of composite known as mosaic opal. This is where tiny chips of opal are assembled and put together using the above process creating a mosaic effect.
Here are three of the most frequently asked questions we get asked about opal and what we would recommend.
What do I look for when buying and opal? We would recommend going for a solid opal, matrix opal or boulder opal
Why buy solid opal?
Solid opal, matrix opal and boulder opal are natural forms of opal and are un- adulterated by humans. This means that you get an opal in all its natural glory.
Why are composite stones inferior?
Composite stones are often considered to be inferior because over time due to heat, moisture and general life span of the glue holding these pieces together means that it will eventually break down so the life span of these often-beautiful pieces is shorter to its solid natural counterpart.
What type of opal is the most valuable and why?
Black opal is the most sought-after type of opal and is predominantly mined in Lightening Ridge NSW. It is not opal with a purely black colour as some may think but rather a variety of opal with a dark or grey body colour. Black opal shows off a play of colour including darker reds, greens, purples and blues. These colours are accentuated by its darker body colour. A red play of colour is considered the most valuable.
At Gray Reid Gallery we are able to source a wide range of opal of varying prices to show you, ensuring you get something that is truly beautiful and suited to their individual needs.
Please contact Gray Reid Gallery for further information.