The Australian Crystal Opal is also called the clear opal. This is because it is translucent and sometimes almost transparent. Despite this it still has vibrant and intricate patterns of color within the opal. It is called a crystal opal because it has a crystal base to the stone and you can usually see through the stone to the base. This is also referred to as the “diaphaneity” of a stone.
If you can see through an opal and light is able to pass through it, the chances are you have a crystal opal on your hands.
Most of the crystal opal comes from a place in Australia called Coober Pedy, also known as the opal capital of the world. Another area in Australian famous for opals is Lightning Ridge, although this is mainly for the black opal.
The boulder opal differs from the crystal opal in that it has an ironstone backing, something the crystal opal does not. It is lack of a backing that gives the crystal opal its greater clarity and enables you to see the vibrancy of colors unavailable in opaque stones.
Crystal opals are usually cut in an oval or teardrop shape in order to retain as most of the opal as possible when making it presentable for jewelery and the retail market. These opals make great pendants.
A top quality crystal opal command over 200 USD per carat for a one of gem quality. The clarity and transparency can affect the value of the opal quite remarkably.
When it comes to buying opals, especially online, it is a good idea to locate a dealer in the mining region rather than a jeweler as the mark up or premium is going to be a bit less. If you are interested in buying many or some highly valuable opals it might even be a good idea to go to Coober Pedy and negotiate a good quality opal yourself. But if this is not possible, some good research and negotiation can be done by phone and email.
In these circumstances it is a good idea to have as much information about the crystal opal as possible. If you can get a representative to buy for you that is also an option. But always check that the person you are dealing with is a genuine opal seller and is easily contactable by phone, postal and email addresses.
When it comes to buying opals the Australia crystal opal is by far the best you can buy and well worth the effort put in to acquire it.