Australian Opal inlay is the term for opal that has been inset into precious metal. The gem is polished at the same time as the metal, and the opal flattened to the same height as the precious metal.
The type of opal that is needed to make inlay opal is crystal or dark crystal opal.
Opal chips are a great type of opal to use where there will be a lot of color to shape and cut to size. The opal is a crystal, but when set in the inlay jewelry the opal is set with black oxide and glue mixed with darkening the opal once it is set in the piece of jewelry. This style of jewelry is very similar to doublet opal and has the same characteristics. Very rarely are genuine black opals set in inlay opal jewelry.
Lightning Ridge opal is very suited to Australian opal inlay, because of the amount of good quality crystal opal that comes out of the mines. Coober Pedy is also an excellent opal mining area that supplies the world with inlay opal.
Each piece of opal is ground down on the opal cutting machines to take all the sand out, so the opal is clean and bright, ready for the opal to be set or glued into the inlay jewelry.
The hardest part of making opal in jewelry is cutting the opal to size, so it fits perfectly into the setting hole where the opal is to be set into. Suppose the cutting is not precise the opal will show black around it with glue and black oxide in it. Making the jewelry piece have a look that is not that professional.