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Crystal Opal Jewelry

Crystal Opal Jewelry.


By Gary Hocking


It would be difficult to dispute that opals display colour unlike any other gemstone ever found.  A very good gem quality opal such as a harlequin which is a specific pattern in opal has no peer in the colour stakes.


You have minerals and other gemstones which display swirling patterns of colour and sometimes two or three different colours but nothing like opal.  An opal can display a full spectrum of dazzling colours which change as you turn the stone around, change again as you move it into different light and then you can pick it up and look straight through it as if it had no colour at all.  I challenge you to tell me what other gemstone on this planet can match that?


What I am referring to here is my favorite opal called crystal opal.  It is the kind of stone which mesmerizes you and you want to just pick it up and turn it around and show someone else its magic.


If you put a piece of crystal opal on a white surface it will often just look like a piece of clear glass. But as you move it on to other darker surfaces the colour starts to play, and play it certainly does.


Crystal opal is found in Coober Pedy, White Cliffs, Lightning Ridge  and perhaps even in Queensland boulder country.  The best that I have ever seen comes from Coober Pedy.


Crystal opal makes exceptionally good doublets and triplets.  Glued to a piece of black potch which is common opal, crystal throws magnificent colour patterns.


Another big use for crystal opal is for making inlay jewellery.  This is where a piece of jewelry is made with a well or recess in which one or more pieces of opal are cut to the shape of the well and then glued into it.  Later when the glue hardens it is ground flush with the metal surface and then actually polished along with the metal.


Inlay has that wonderful quality of the opal appearing to be one piece with the gold setting rather than being held in by claws or a metal bezel. The bottom of the metal is painted black and the colour of the crystal comes out best of all.  Sometimes I make inlay and do not paint the metal and I glue the stone in place with a clear resin.  The gold then shines through the opal colours and makes an exotic array of gold and blue or red or whatever colours the opal displays to us.


Some crystal is even faceted like diamonds and rubies.  This is usually reserved for the poorer quality crystal as it has an effect which will enhance a poor quality stone, but you wouldn’t want to facet a top quality crystal opal they are much too pretty for that.

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