The difference between black opal and crystal opal

How is it that opals from the same place can be so different? In today’s video, I explain the difference between black opal and crystal opal and how you can spot them!

Crystal opal

A great way to check whether an opal is a crystal opal or not is with a torch (or flashlight for my American opal-holics.)

Shine the light from the torch through the back of the opal; if the opal glows, you’ve got crystal opal! Crystal opals can have a tint but are always semi-transparent, meaning you can see the torch’s light through them.

Black opal

The same test can be done to see whether what you’ve got is black opal, too. Shine your torch through the back of the stone, and you shouldn’t be able to see the light come through the other side. Black opal has black potch on the back, and it’s this potch that the light can’t shine through.

Which should I buy?

When it comes to buying opal, should you buy black or crystal? Well, it depends.

A black opal is a great option for those looking to invest in a gem as it holds value, even increasing, over time. On the other hand, top gem quality crystal opal has an intense play of color and vibrancy that I feel is underrated.

It comes down to buying what you like for your skin tone, your color preference, or what you plan on doing with the opal.

6 thoughts on “The difference between black opal and crystal opal”

  1. Hi Justin,
    I really like your site, videos and material. This is a stome that we found at the Rainbow Ridge mine in NV about 12 years ago. We’ll be taking it to Tucson this year. I think it fits with your discription of crystal. The GIA Director named Dino called it an Optical Grade Crystal Precious Opal. Only one of two he had ever seen at that time. Sincerely, Robert Alban 928-699-5258

  2. Great education love your videos. Never seen such lovely colours . Reminds me of space. I do have a crystal opal cluster ring . With 15 opals . 1gram each. I think it comes from one opal. I also think they are black crystal opals. Grannies ring


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