Australian opal patterns explained

Australian opal patterns can be tricky to learn; no two opals are ever the same! This glorious Australian gemstone doesn’t like to make it easy for us, but there are a few skills to identifying patterns in opal.

Here are my tips for budding cutters and opal enthusiasts.

A lot of what I learnt about opal, I learnt from my Dad. We’d sit together, his dusty cap on his head as it hung over the cutting wheel, and he’d share with me all he knew.

I feel very fortunate to have the knowledge I do and to have been able to hone my skills over the past 30 years, which is why I love to share them with you. So today, we’re talking about Australian opal patterns so that you can get better at identifying the elements at play in your opals.

I’ve chosen stones with similar patterns to show you that even though opals will look different, they can have the same pattern.

Patterns can fall on one side or section of a stone with a mixture of one or more different patterns too. They can mix in with each other, weaving a beautiful and unique artwork within the gem.

I include some of the best patterns to see in opal in hopes that it will help you identify what you have at home. Or what I have, if you play along in our live videos on YouTube! We’ll look at opals with flagstone, pinfire, floral, ribbon, chaff and broad flash patterns. I also delve into the infamous harlequin pattern and why most sellers who label their opals as harlequin online are wrong.

I hope this exploration into Australian opal patterns gives you the confidence to start grading your stones. You can also play along at home while watching my videos; guess the pattern before I grade the final opals and see how many you get right!

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