Types of Opals: Opal is a magical gemstone filled with intrigue, superstition, and beauty. Each opal has a unique and colorful display that helps make this gem one of the most popular among jewelry lovers and collectors. As the official birthstone of October, opal has become the most prized stone for fall in the United States.

Most opals are mined in Australia and formed by heavy rain showers in an otherwise dry rock-filled region. These rain showers wash silica deep down into the rocks and boulders. When the water dries out and evaporates, what is left are the silica deposits that eventually form into opal.

Though opal formation is seemingly simple, there are many opal types. Below are some of the most commonly used in the jewelry industry.

1. Black Opal

Black Opal
6 Types of Opals – Black Opal

Black Opal is characterized by its dark body tone or body color, meaning that though there are many colors within an opal, the main background color is deeply colored.

These deep tones allow the other colors in the opal to look much brighter than within a white opal counterpart.

These opals are usually mined in Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia. Since black opals are significantly more rare than other opals, they are also among the most expensive.

2. Boulder Opal

Boulder Opal

Boulder Opal gets its name from the boulders it mines in Queensland, Australia. These opals form in thin layers within the cavities and crevices of these boulders.

Because the opal is so thin when mined, boulder opals are left with the ironstone backing to which the opal was attached, so what you have is similar to an opal doublet. Because of the dark nature of the ironstone, boulder opals have dark, vibrant colors.

Opals can also form in thin strips on top of and within other stones throughout Australia, including the Andamooka boulder opal formed over the rock quartzite.

3. Crystal Opal

Crystal Opal
Types of Opal Gemstone

Crystal opals are any opal with a transparent or semi-transparent body. These can have many different body colors and usually have an excellent display of color.

Some crystal opals are also known as jelly opals. Jelly opals are semi-transparent opals that have less of a play of color than other opals and are more iridescent with blueish-grey undertones.

4. Fire Opal

Fire Opal
Sun Chan / Getty Images

Though fire opal is often used to describe any opal with predominately red and orange flashes, it is meant to describe the Mexican Fire Opal.

These opals are mined in Mexico and are transparent with a brownish-red, yellow, or orange body color. These opals do not have the same play of color as other opals and are mostly a solid, fiery tone.

5. Matrix Opal

Matrix Opal
Matrix Opal: Types of Opals

Matrix Opal is a type of boulder opal where the opal appears to be played within its host rock. Matrix boulder opal consists of opaline silica within the crevices and pores of ironstone from Queensland so that the ironstone can be seen from the face.

Another type of matrix opal is the Andamooka matrix opal, which is also a boulder opal. This type of matrix opal is usually treated to enhance the color difference between the quartzite and the colorful opal layer, making the quartzite layer much darker.

6. White Opal

Types of Opals - White Opal

White Opals are also known as light opals and milky opals. Their primarily white body tone defines them. Because of their light background color, the other opal colors are not nearly as colorful as those in black opal.

These types of opals are also much more common than black opals. However, very good quality white opals are much more expensive and display gorgeous colors.

White opals can be both opaque and transparent. The transparent opals are referred to as crystal opals.

6 Must-Follow Instagram Accounts for Opal Lovers

Discover the best Instagram accounts for October’s birthstone, Opal.

Instagram is a wonderful place to meet people and businesses that have similar interests as yourself. I have met hundreds of amazing people in the jewelry business because of Instagram, and it has been so fun to share with them things my “real world” friends aren’t interested in.

I have a handful of accounts dedicated to just opals among the hundreds of accounts I follow. Whether it’s opal jewelry, unusual opal specimens, or a combination of both, these accounts are among my favorites because there is no such thing as an ugly opal.

So, pull out your smartphone and start following these accounts that show off the magical elements of October’s birthstone!

1. Gemofire

Gemofire is an account run by Shane that is an extension of his website and Etsy shop. His account is by far the most popular account on Instagram for opal admiring. It is home to over 1,850 photos of different variations of opal. Browse this amazing collection at @gemofire on Instagram and shop his collection on Etsy.

2. Opalcraft Australia

Instagram Accounts for Opal Lovers
Instagram Accounts for Opal Lovers

Browse over 700 high-quality photographs of different types of opals from Opalcraft Australia. Their Instagram account highlights both finished jewelry and specimens from their online store. You can purchase most opals on their account from their website or the eBay store.

3. Lightning Ridge Opal Mines

This account is new to Instagram, with only 122 photos from the past 6 months. However, the quality of the opal shown makes this an account worth following!

This account not only pictures some marvelous opal specimens but also photographs from the Lightning Ridge Opal Mine and its employees. Getting a behind-the-scenes look at an opal mine in Australia is interesting. Find them under the username @lightning_ridge_opal_mines.

4. Cosmic Opals

Here is another new Instagram account that is less than 12 weeks old. This account showcases many gorgeous opal specimens, all of which are for sale!

There are some truly gorgeous photographs here that can be appreciated for the stunning opal and the beautiful natural floral and plant backgrounds these opals are nestled into. Find this account under username @cosmicopals.

5. Stone Eternal

Instagram Accounts Opal Lovers

This Instagram account has a stunning collection of opal photography with 208 photographs listed so far. Though most of the stones pictured are opals, they mix up with other interesting and beautiful stone specimens. Stay updated on their latest posting by following their username @stone_eternal on Instagram.

6. Australian Opal Cutters

Be sure to follow the official Instagram account of Australian Opal Cutters in Sydney Australia at username @australianopalcutters. They have a great collection of finished opal jewelry and some spectacular museum-quality opal pieces.

Leave A Reply