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.
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.