New and improved synthetic opal BEWARE!!

New synthetic opals are being created every year and manufacturers are getting better at replicating natural opal. I recently obtained some of the new material from Tony Smallwood and thought it was time I posted an update.

Nearly every day, I am asked by people what their opal is worth. Much of the time I have to tell them that they have a fake opal. Sad but true.  The only way to combat this is to at least make you aware of these new types of fakes on the market.


Aurora Opal

This new type of synthetic opal has a pattern never seen before in man made opal.

It has a sheen or pearl like pattern with mostly non directional swirls. These swirls can form in natural opal as well. Aurora opal replicates the natural opals characteristic well and it can be harder to tell the difference. Aurora opals can come in black to white tones with many color hues in between.











Synthetic impregnated non directional opal

These opals are the world’s first samples of homogeneously crystallised synthetic impregnated opals also known as colloidal or photonic crystals.

Simply explained, this type of new synthetic opal is one to be very aware of. It is a very non directional type of opal that can be cut from any angle and will have the same play of color. It does not have columns of color like its predecessor Kyocera opal.

This type is going to fool many gem dealers and valuers over time. It also can come in different color hues from the rare red/blue to just red, green or blue











Kyocera Synthetic opal

This type of opal has been around for quite some time and most opal dealers are able to spot it due to its regular patterns and columns.

Kyocera can also display a fish scale pattern at the ends of the columns but this is mostly only seen under magnification.











These new types of synthetic opal are going to make it difficult for the consumer and the dealer. Be aware that the examples today are difficult to spot. It pays to have an expert appraise your gems and if you bag a bargain that looks to good to be true, it’s probably fake.

To those of you who ask me to appraise your gems online with photos, please be aware that I may decline. It’s very difficult to tell from a photo and I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. To educate yourself, please see my previous posts on synthetics  here and here.

The biggest irony is that in days gone by, an opal that was perfect in form and shape was highly prized. Now with the advent of these very exact synthetic stones, inclusions tell us more about the naturalness and authenticity. Inclusions such as sand spots, web lines and visible potch enhance the gem and the fact that Mother Nature can be random in her design.



8 thoughts on “New and improved synthetic opal BEWARE!!”

  1. Thank you for being so generous with your videos and information I have learned so much from you . Is there a regulatory body keeping track of the production of synthetics. How they are sold etc .Or is there just to much being produced to keep track of

    • Hi Peter Thanks for the kind words. There is no body keeping track of it. You only have to look on Instagram and ebay to see that there is no-one controlling it. It is buyer beware. It’s sad! the opal industry has had it good for a lot longer than any other gems because they are harder to replicate. But I think still to the trained eye we will always be able to tell. If they figure out how to put inclusions in it we will be in trouble. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  2. Don’t forget about “Sea Opal”/”Opalite”. The fact that it’s glass is obvious to any mineral expert or jewelry maker but probably fools many consumers. I have seen some jewelry sellers conveniently leave off the word “glass” when they sell finished pieces made with it. Not sure if it was ignorance or greed.

  3. The opalite I’ve seen is always the same blueish, aqua color, through and through. Same hue, shade, etc. It LOOKS unnatural. It’s been a few since I looked into it, but that hue-you won’t forget it once you see it.


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