Synthetic Opals

Gems have been used for ornamental purposes for a long time.  A natural opal is a hydrated amorphous form of silica, but synthetic gems have less water which makes them more sustainable to change in temperature. Opals are called mineraloid because they have amorphous characteristics, unlike the minerals, which are a crystalline form of silica. A majority of these opals are mined from Australia and New South Wales.

Opals occur in many colors and are lower in cost than other gemstones. They range in color from transparent to opaque, white, gray, red, orange, yellow, green, pink, rose, magenta, blue, black, olive and brown. Not only do synthetic opals have a huge variety of colors, but they have more benefits over the original counterparts.  Synthetic opals are stronger and more durable, and are designed to minimize waste. 

Synthetic opals are made in a way that they are taken from opaline silica and then grown in a laboratory.  This is a yearlong process, and this slow growth helps to make a stronger structured opal.  These lab-created opals are relatively more affordable then mined ones, there is no special care needed for them, and manmade opals have temperature resistance up to 800 degrees Celsius.  Since opals have a quite large amount of water in it, if it becomes dehydrated, it can develop tiny fractures called crazing.  Crazing will lessen its beauty, and also makes them less durable.  On other hand, synthetic lab opals are not prone to cracking.

Synthetic opal is hard to distinguish from the natural one. Synthetic opals were discovered in 1974 by Pierre Gilson as he described the molecular structure of this precious stone. These human-made opals are more porous than live ones, and these have less density than genuine opals. Opal falls into three categories: black, white, fire opal. Black opals have a night like black background and stars like illuminations with bright flashes in various colors. White Opals these have a milky background,  ornamented by multi-color sparks, and may resemble a rainbow in the sky.  Fire opals have a gorgeous orange hue.

Some of the prominent types of opal include:

Black Opal

Its body is white as described earlier and it contains multi-color sparkles

White Opal

Its body is white in color, and it has many colors on foreground

Crystal Opal

It may have transparent to semitransparent background and foreground shows plays of color

Water Opal

Knowledge of water opal is from transparent to translucent, and it may or may not have sparkles in it.

Boulder Opal

It has host rock in finished gem and shows multiple colors in foreground

Fire Opal

Its background color may range from orange, red or yellow and may or may not it shows color on front

Assembled Opal

This kind of opal is made of many opals, and it has a layered structure in it.

Evaluating Opal:

There are ways in which you can ascertain the best synthetic opal. Following three aspects are kept under consideration while evaluating:

  • Colors
  • Patter
  • Clarity of the gem

Before purchasing an opal, be sure to do your research so that you can buy the best synthetic opal.