How to spot a fake black opal

In this video, we show you how to spot a fake black opal. Unfortunately, much of the opal being misrepresented as Lightning Ridge black opal is actually Ethiopian crystal opal treated. It is difficult to stamp out the practice in such a small boutique industry, but with your knowledge and help, we can say no to these unscrupulous sellers and stop making it worthwhile.

Our main points to look out for are:

1. Potch on the back. While double-sided opals do exist, they are rare, and in most cases, an absence of potch and color all the way through the black opal can indicate that the opal was initially a crystal that had been treated to resemble black opal.

2. Pitting in the polished surface. Again, this is a tell-tale sign that treatment may have occurred.

3. If both of the above are present and no disclosure of treatment is made, please proceed with caution as the stone is probably treated.

Watch the video to see some examples.

Let us know what you think by commenting below, and if you spot what you think is fake – comment by posting the link, and we will check it out. After all, the more people are aware, the better it is for us all.

18 thoughts on “How to spot a fake black opal”

  1. Justin, the video won’t play here in the Netherlands, it says this video is private. Maybe some mirroring issues or you forgot to set this video open for others to see. Love your opals and mailings 😉

  2. Great videos and great information — thanks so much. WISH we had your opal deposits here in the USA!!!! ALAS we just have a bit of pink opal in Idaho and some less stable stuff in Nevada — Boo hoo ;(. This video worked fine for me.

    • Hey Pam Thanks for the great feedback. Yes Nevada opal can be really nice opal. when it is stable. I am glad the video worked for you.

  3. Thanks Justin. I have noticed this very thing on ebay. That is why I researched further and was able to find you. You are a reputable company, and I am very happy with the opals I’ve purchased through you. Keep up the valuable videos. Cheers,

    • Hehe I am glad you found me. 🙂 I am taking this way further to stop these guys from selling this opal as Lightning Ridge black opal. Thanks for the input

  4. Excellent information. I would say if you’re not sure if it is Lightning Ridge, then buy from a reputable Australian dealer as is Justin and Black Opal Direct. They take great pride in their opal industry.

    • Thanks for the kind words and there is an element of truth to what you say. Opal can come from many places in the world but the best opal only comes from very few countries. I can tell you now that if a seller is selling massive amounts of opal, claiming it is from Lightning Ridge then their is reason for alarm as the supply coming out could not supply the world with the real black opal in the amounts these fraud sellers are selling at. thanks for the input

  5. Thanks Justin,

    This info really needs to get out to the public. I have also noticed that the fakers will copy one spot of color and paste it all over the opal so that it looks like it has more color. look out for the exact pattern repeating its self several times. In natural opal you may see a repeating pattern but if you look closely each patch of color will be different from all the rest. In the photoshoped opals the repeating patch of color is identical. That’s a dead give away for a photo that has been altered.

    • Yes Photo shop is used alot in these opal sellers as they dont even seem to care about feedback either. They have multiple shops on ebay and are working under the one umbrella as all the listings are similar in design and structure. The repeated pattern is a dead give away and it is hard to believe that people are actually buying it the way it looks compared to the video. I am not sure we will be able to stop them but we can make everyone more aware of this misleading practice. Thanks Jerry

  6. Hello Dear Justin,
    I just want to ask you about Ethiopian Opals, kindly help me out Thanks.
    Few weeks ago I had purchased 40 carats ( 7 pieces) of cut and polished Ethiopian Opals with quite bright flash of multi-colors @ 30 USD per carat from Gems and Jewellery Exhibition at Sharjah U.A.E, which was the last day of the sale, as they had reduced the prices from USD 50 to USD 30, I don’t know what went into my mind, after going home the next day I soaked them all in a cup of clean water, and after say 10 – 15 minutes I took them out and to my surprise all that bright multi colored flashes disappeared, I was so sad and heart-broken upon seeing the hard transparent colorless jelly like stones.
    I was helpless and heartbroken as I could not go back to the seller to tell him about this incident, as they had packed and left the country on the last day of the Exhibition. Anyhow I was looking at those 7 pieces helplessly and was thinking where I went wrong in identifying those opals , although the seller had told me that these were Ethiopian Opals.
    With a heavy sigh I packed them all and kept them in my drawer, after a week I said let me see them again, and to my surprise they had regained their color lost
    I was shocked, then I tried it twice again the same procedure but this time I kept them in a room temperature and they regained their color within a day.

    Kindly tell me something scientific about this characteristic of Ethiopian Opal. Why does it happen ? and what causes this to happen ?
    Does it happen with Australian or Mexican Opals too ?
    If yes with what type of Opals.

    Thanks & Regards
    Warm Wishes,

    • Hello MHT The Ethiopian opal is a volcanic opal and is very porous. So when the water soaks in it color can disappear. Be very careful when cutting this opal as it can crack very easily as you will find once you are on the wheel. Because the opal is so porous it is easily treatable. SO also be careful that you are not buying treated opal as well. I hope this helps Regards Justin

      • Dear Justin thanks for the info,but dear you have not told me if Australian or Mexican Opals too have the same characteristic when immersed in water for some time?

        Thanks & Rgds

        • Ahh I am sorry Yes only Ethiopian opal has this characteristic Australian opal is sedimentary and cannot be treated unless it is Matrix from Andamooka. Mexico is Volcanic but like Eithiopian but also can crack easily.

          • Thanks a lot dear Justin, so nice of you for the info’s. Can I send you some still pictures or video’s of opals in future for any guidance ? If yes at which e-mail address ?

            Thanks & regards,

          • That would be fine at or you can insert an image with the box on this post or any other. Just use a contact form or send it to Guru

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