Discover Opals

Opal Quest is dedicated not only to creating beautiful, hand-crafted fine opal jewellery, but also educating our clients about these stunning, natural forming opals. So, let's dive in and learn about a few of the various types and characteristics of Opal...

Crystal Opal is translucent / transparent when held up to the light. Often the colours and patterns in crystal opal are more magnificent than black opal – they are just a bit harder to see because they are not highlighted with the darker backing like Black opal is. If you set crystal opal against a solid background, you will intensify the visible colours in the opal. Crystal opal is highly sort after and is one of our favourite types of opal.

The rarest and most valuable of all opal comes from the Lightning Ridge area and is known as Black Opal. It can also be found in certain opal fields in Coober Pedy and Mintabie South Australia. It gets its name from the darkness of the opal body.  A common misconception is that the whole opal is completely black, but this is not accurate.  The term simply means the gem has a dark body tone in comparison to white opal.  It is this darkness which accentuates the play of colours within the opal, which is where the value lies.  If the stone was completely black it would simply be classified as black potch opal, relatively worthless compared to its colour bearing counterpart.

White Opal can vary from bright white to light grey body tones. The most prized white opal has the full spectrum of the rainbow flashing throughout the entirety of the gem. More commonly, the opal has single or multiple bars of colour running through the base of the white potch. When a white opal is semi translucent or has crystal properties, it often enhances the clarity and vibrancy of the colour and therefore the value of the stone.

Australian Boulder Opal is a unique and rare stone that can portray a vast array of colours.  Boulder opal is found within large boulders, which are mined out of the harsh outback in Queensland, Australia.  This is why the stone is commonly referred to a Queensland (QLD) boulder opal. The host boulder stone is often included as part of the opal as the contrast between earthy ironstone and the vibrant opal colour is stunning.

What is a Doublet?

An opal doublet is made up of a thin slice of opal glued onto a backing of either boulder opal, volcanic glass (obsidian) or any other suitable black backing. The dark backing is used to highlight, and bring out the colour of the opal, or to increase the depth of an opal. This process allows cheaper, thinner opal to be more visually appealing and is a cost effective way of enhancing the natural colours of translucent opal.

What is a triplet?

A triplet consists of the same two layers as an opal doublet with the addition of a top layer of glass or resin that creates a magnifying effect as well as a protective layer. Triplet opals are the most affordable of all opals as the amount of actual opal in the product is very small and thin.

How to identify a Doublet or Triplet?

To identify if an opal is a doublet or a triplet, the best way is to turn the piece on its side and have a look for lines between the layers of opal. The line (if doublet) or lines (if triplet) will be straight as the glue won’t hold properly otherwise. If the doublet or triplet is already set in a piece of jewellery, then it may be difficult for the untrained eye to tell so you will need to have trust in the jeweler you are buying from.  You are unlikely to see any straight lines between layers in a solid opal as the natural irregularities of the opal is what creates it's beauty.


Opal Quest does not sell doublets or triplets, nor do we sell synthetic, Gilson, Ethiopian or Mexican opal. When you purchase from Opal Quest, you are guaranteed solid Australian opal.

For more information about opals, check out our blog. If you require any support in selecting the right opal for you, please contact us directly! We will be happy to help you get the best opal for your budget and creative vision.