Opal 101: Everything you need to know

So, you’ve stumbled into the wonderful world of opal and have just realised how deep the rabbit hole goes. That or one of your opal-fever affected friends threatened to prod you with their dop stick for 12 hours straight if you didn’t start entertaining their opal talk.

It can be really overwhelming when you start to learn about opal because one of the first things you learn is that no two opals are the same. Ever. Which means that there are a lot of reasons why an opal can be different.

So many aspects are factored in when it comes to assessing an opal; play of color, pattern, body tone, brightness, and origin are some of the most important.

We’ve been practising with and learning about opal for the past 30 years and are still fascinated by how unique this gemstone is. We get a lot of questions about opal through our Instagram, Facebook, and over on the Black Opal Direct YouTube channel which is why we have been sharing our knowledge through videos.

After years of frequently answering your questions and sharing online, we’ve grown a library of content. This can be an overwhelming amount to catch up on for an already overwhelmed opal newbie, so we’ve compiled this list of some of our best videos for opal beginners.

Here are the best videos to watch if you’re new to opal

Types of opal

Let’s begin our journey into the opal-verse by looking at some of the types of opal that you can find in Australia. Justin shows you some examples of opals that we sell and some that can be found elsewhere around our country.

What is black opal?

And why is it so valuable? Justin answers two of the most common questions we get from beginners that can cause a bit of confusion. And tell you the exception to the rule – because opal is never that simple!

What is ‘play of color’?

Play of color is one of the most important factors in valuing an opal but… what does it actually mean?! Justin breaks down this term for you and shows you what it means for an opal.

What is (and isn’t) a crystal opal?

Crystal opal is one kind of opal that we sell and one of the many kinds of opal in the world! In this video, Justin teaches what classifies as crystal opal and how it’s not the same as a crystal.

What’s the difference between black opal and crystal opal?

There is a simple way to tell the difference between a black opal and crystal opal and you probably have the tool in your shed!

What’s the difference between white opal and crystal opal?

There’s a big difference but a fine line between white opal and crystal opal, and it boils down to just two words; translucency and transparency.

What is black opal worth? Does body tone matter?

There’s a myth that the best black opals in the world have to be N1 on the body tone scale above all else. In this video, Justin shares with you why that is not the most important thing to consider when buying a black opal.

Five opal patterns explained (with examples)

There are no two opals that will ever be the same, although there are some patterns that occur in opal. In this video, you’ll see five different gems from our stock and Justin will teach you how to recognize their patterns.

How to spot a synthetic opal

Most opals sold online are clearly marketed as natural or synthetic but unfortunately, there are some people out there who aren’t honest with what they are selling. To help prevent you from buying from a fraudulent seller, we’ve created this video with three tips to spotting synthetic opal.

Synthetic opal jewelry: A video guide with Ruth!

How to spot synthetic opal jewelry video

In this video, Ruth teaches us how to buy opal jewelry (and know you’re getting a good deal!). Synthetic opal jewelry has a place in our wardrobe but we want to be educated on how to spot it.

How to spot an opal doublet

Opal doublets are a popular way to make opal jewelry more affordable, but what actually are they? In this video, you’ll learn what an opal doublet is, how it’s made, and what a triplet is.

What’s the difference between rough nobby opal and seam opal?

In this video, Justin shares what rough opal is and explains the difference between nobby and seam opal by showing you examples.

About our opals

Where do our opals come from?

Justin and Melinda sit down and discuss where some of our opals have come from. Almost all of the opals on our website come from Lightning Ridge as we have strong ties to the community (we used to live and mine there!) and are absolutely nuts for the quality opal it produces. In this video, we delve a little deeper than that, discussing the opal mining fields these gems have come from and their best attributes.

Mining for opal in Lightning Ridge

We go underground to find some opal in the home of the black opal, Lightning Ridge. This fun-packed adventure video shows you the opal mining process from start to finish.

Want to find opal but don’t own any mining equipment?

In this video, we show you where you can go to find opal in Lightning Ridge with nothing but a shovel and a water bottle. We also explore some of the other fun things to do when visiting the ridge.

After you’ve got the basics down…

Justin’s personal opal collection

Let’s delve into something fun! What are the opals so good that Justin just couldn’t let them go?

Hungry for more?

Itching to scratch past the surface of opal and want to learn more about cutting? Check out our Opal Cutting Guide for our best and most helpful videos for budding opal cutters!