Opal Triplets Are they Any Good?
by Gary Hocking
by Gary Hocking
When I first started cutting opals about fifteen years ago I was told that you only ever use pieces of opal that are worthless for anything else. You could not sell triplets to opal buyers on the opal fields and certainly not to shops.
On top of that they were labor intensive to make and they didn’t last long as they were glued together and back then the glues were not very good.
In case you are unaware there are three types of opal products. Firstly, there are solid opals which are solid pieces of opal which we cut down to shape and the polish. Next, there are doublets. When we find a thin piece of opal which is too thin to make into a piece of opal jewelry then we glue a backing to it and that will make it strong enough to use. Finally, when we find a piece of opal that is too thin and fragile to make into a doublet then we glue a dome of clear material on the top as well as a backing underneath and as it is made from three pieces of material we call it a triplet.
Well, things have changed. With the advance in technology it is possible to cut very good opal into thousands of super thin pieces of opal sheets in order to use them for making triplets. This way there are more dollars to be had for the opal. When I first heard of this I was horrified as it seemed a waste of good opal. Opal is cut so thin that when you place it in the palm of your hand it collapses into the shape of your hand. This is what triplets are made from.
Then there are the glues that are available today that were not available twenty years ago. While looking for a glue to use for making doublets I asked a friend who manufacturers aircraft what he would suggest for strength. He mixed some glue and placed some on a piece of steel and then stuck that to the concrete. He told me that if you ever wanted to get that steel of the concrete you would have to smash the concrete up. That was some glue.
Today some triplets are made by a fusion process where no glue is used and you can shower wearing the triplet and it will never come apart or deteriorate.
So all in all, today’s opal triplets are made from fantastic gem quality opal with processes which make them very durable and they are still the cheapest way to by opal. Yes they are good and allow people to wear bright colored opals for a reasonable price.