Colours and brightness

opals

Opals come in many colours with red being the most valuable, followed by orange, yellow (usually a gold tone), purple, green and blue in that order. However, intensity of colour is probably the most important thing and a stunning very bright electric blue could be of more value than a dull red. All opals are graded on a scale of 1-5 from dull up to brilliant. Gem quality opals are usually brilliant or very bright opals.

PATTERN

Flash

Bright flashes of colour that change at every angle are my favourite. As you move the opal around colours and patterns change and give the viewer a different view depending on the angle.

Harlequin

This is a bit like a patchwork quilt and has flashes of segmented colour. They are very beautiful, very expensive and very rare.

Pinfire

As the name implies this shows as a series of pretty bright dots in profusion over the surface of the stone.

Matrix

These are opals that originate from Andamooka. Naturally white, they are usually enhanced by a process using sugar and acid, which gives the opal a much darker appearance. This in turn shows the colours in a more spectacular way. There is nothing wrong with this process and it is accepted in the industry.

Picture

It can be amazing how some opals have what looks like a picture of a scene etc. Some can be quite exact, some can be seen by someone with a bit of ‘over the top’ imagination! Regardless they can be of great interest to buyers who want something that’s a little bit different.

Chinese writing

Sometimes opals have what looks like writing on them. Again, you need a bit of imagination!