Synthetic Opal

What is Synthetic Opal?

A synthetic opal is an opal that is manmade. A synthetic opal can either have the same chemical composition as a natural, or use a manmade by-product. A synthetic opal is made in a laboratory.

A synthetic opal generally falls into three categories. Glass imitations, plastic imitations or resin & silica mixture imitations.

Other terms used in the trade to describe synthetic opal includes: lab-created or laboratory created, Gilson,  Created, & Slocum stone Just to name a few as new words and terms are constantly being used in order to confuse the industry.

Chinese Synthetic Opal:

  • Made from a resin mixture.
  • The pattern is very similar right through the opal to natural.
  • When polished there is a  plastic smell.
  • The polish is ripply or has streaks.
  • The pattern of the opal can be ‘stripy or flakey’.


 Gilson Opal:

  • Made from Silica.
  • Pattern will be uniform and perfect.
  • The pattern will be bunched together and tight unlike natural opal which doesn’t have an even colour or pattern.
  • No longer in production but is still found in older pieces of jewellery.

My only advise for anyway that finds the buy of the century…if it sounds too good to be true it probably is a synthetic.

For more information watch the following video by Justin on ‘learn how to spot a synthetic opal‘.

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