Nature seems to have endowed the opal with all the colors in the rainbow making it one of the most colorful stones in known history. Mainly found in Australia, opals are classified into two categories known as precious opals and common opals. They are also separated as natural opals mined from the earth and artificial opals that are created in a lab. This makes it doubly important to know how to compare opals if you are ever out shopping for this very special gemstone. Of all the opals available, the black opal is considered the most sought after in view of its different play of colors which is sometimes dark blue and at other times dark green. The white or cream opal is also quite popular while the Mexican fire opal that has colors of orange/red fire inside is also considered very valuable.
The beauty of the opal is in the way it changes color when viewed from different angles. These flashes of color known as opalescence can be a single color or several tiny flashes in a myriad of colors and it is this that makes this stone valuable. Although in general the opal is not considered a precious stone, it is said that a very fine example of an opal with an extravagant play of colors can be even more valuable than a diamond. The danger however is to distinguish between the natural stone and the artificially created one because the lab created stones are sometimes said to be as beautiful as the real gem and even gemologists find it difficult to say at once which is which when comparing opals.
The play of colors in the opal is said to be due to a natural phenomenon that takes place when the light that passes through the stone reflects in different ways on micro particles inside the stone and merges once again. This produces a stunning blend of colors that seems to flicker and dance in the light creating a vision of unsurpassable beauty. It is the tiny particles inside the stone which is a combination of silica and molecules of water that helps to create this magical play of colors never seen in any other gemstone. But technology has proved that it can be as innovative as nature and today it is possible to produce a man made opal comparable to the beauty of a natural opal but at a fraction of its cost. This has made it possible for the average man to buy this gem at a reasonable price.
If you however wish to buy genuine opals by themselves or as stones set in necklaces, earrings or bracelets, you must get advice from a reputed organization such as the institute of gemology so that they will be able to compare opals and decide whether they are the highly prized natural beauties or the man made kind that is much cheaper. There are other popular alternatives if you are interested in buying opals but can’t afford to buy the natural stuff. Some very unique and intricate jewelry is made out of slivers of opals that are stuck to other mineral bases such as onyx to create beautiful pendants, rings and other pieces that are greatly admired and collected by women all over the world. These are known as doublets and triplets and although beautiful are relatively inexpensive and ideal to wear as matching accessories to make a statement of fashion.