Opal Nomenclatura

Opal Nomenclatura loose sale price & solid Australian doublet Opal Gemstone Information

INTRODUCTION

Opal is Australia's National Gemstone. Australia produces 95% of the world's natural precious opal supply. This nomenclature encompasses all types and varieties of opal to provide a standardisation of terminology but does not establish any valuation methodology.
The Australian Gemstone Industry Council Inc., in collaboration with the Australian Gem Industry Association Ltd., the Gemmological Association of Australia Ltd., the Lightning Ridge Miners Association Ltd. And the Jewellers Association of Australia Ltd., has produced the following nomenclature for the classification of opal.


OPAL CLASSIFICATION

Opal is a gemstone consisting of hydrated amorphous silica with the chemical formula SiO2.nH2O. There are two basic forms of opal described by visual appearance.
Precious Opal - is opal which exhibits the phenomenon known as play-of-colour, produced by the diffraction of white light through a micro-structure of orderly arrayed silica spheres to produce changing spectral hues.
Common Opal and Potch - is opal which does not exhibit a play-of-colour. The distinction between common opal and potch is based on formation and structure. Potch is structurally similar to precious opal but has a disorderly arrangement of silica spheres. Common opal shows some degree of micro crystallinity.


TYPES OF NATURAL OPAL

Natural opal is opal which has not been treated or enhanced in any way other than by cutting and polishing. There are three types of natural opal, with varieties described by the two characteristics of body tone and transparency.
Natural Opal Type 1 - is opal presented in one piece in its natural state apart from cutting or polishing and is of substantially homogenous chemical composition.
Natural Opal Type 2 - is opal presented in one piece where the opal is naturally attached to the host rock in which it was formed and the host rock is of a different chemical composition. This opal is commonly known as boulder opal.
Natural Opal Type 3 - is opal presented in one piece where the opal is intimately diffused as infillings of pores or holes or between grains of the host rock in which it was formed. This opal is commonly known as matrix opal.

VARIETIES OF NATURAL OPAL

The variety of natural opal is determined by the two characteristics of body tone and transparency.
Body Tone
The body tone of an opal is different to the play-of-colour displayed in precious opal. There are three varieties of natural opal based on body tone. Body tone refers to the relative darkness or lightness of the opal when ignoring the play-of-colour.
Black Opal - is the family of opal which shows a play-of-colour within or on a black body tone by reference to the AGIA Body Tone Chart N1, N2, N3 and N4 when viewed face up.
Dark Opal - is the family of opal which shows a play-of-colour within or on a dark body tone by reference to the AGIA Body Tone Chart N5, N6 when viewed face up.
Light Opal - is the family of opal which shows a play-of-colour within or on a light body tone by reference to the AGIA Body Tone chart N7, N8 or N9 when viewed face up. The N9 category is referred to as white opal.
Opal with a distinct coloured body (such as yellow, orange, red or brown) should be classified as black, dark or light opal by reference to the AGIA Body Tone Chart with a notation stating its colour hue.

Transparency

Opal shows all forms of diaphaneity and ranges from transparent to opaque. Natural precious opal which is transparent to semi-transparent is known as crystal opal. Crystal opal can have either a black, dark or light body colour tone. The term "crystal" in this context refers to appearance not a crystalline structure.

OPAL TREATMENTS

Opal can be subjected to various types of treatment. Present CIBJO guidelines state that any method of treatment other than standard cutting and polishing must be disclosed and the process used specified on all invoices, advertising and commercial documents. Types of treatments include colour enhancement, heating, painting, dying, resins and waxes, oiling or any application of chemicals. Opal is treated to change its natural appearance, structure or durability. Opal is colour enhanced in opal inlay jewellery where usually a thin solid crystal opal has black paint or glue applied or set above black painted jewellery.


COMPOSITE NATURAL OPAL

Composite natural opal consists of natural opal laminates, manually cemented or attached to another material. The opal component is natural opal. There are three main forms of composite opal:
Doublet Opals - are a composition of two pieces where a slice of natural opal is cemented to a dark base material.
Triplet Opals - are a composition of three pieces where a thin slice of natural opal is cemented to a dark base material and a transparent top layer, usually of quartz or glass.
Mosaic and Chip Opals - are a composition of small flat or irregularly shaped pieces of natural opal cemented as a mosaic tile on a dark base material or encompassed in a resin.

SYNTHETIC OPAL

Synthetic Opal is material which has essentially the same chemical composition and physical structure as natural opal but has been made by laboratory or industrial process. Synthetic composites exist as synthetic doublets, triplets or mosaics and must be disclosed as synthetic composites.
IMITATION OPAL

Imitation Opal is material which imitates the play-of-colour of natural opal, but does not have the same physical and chemical structure or gemmological constants as natural opal.


CLASSIFICATION REPORTS

Classification reports for the following types of opal should include these details:
Natural Opal
1. Type of opal
2. Variety of opal as Black opal, Dark opal or Light opal with a body classification from N1 (Black) to N9 (White) based on the AGIA Body Tone Chart.
3. Transparency as opaque, translucent or transparent. Note if it is crystal opal.
4. Weight and dimensions
Treated Opal
1. Type of opal
2. Variety of opal as Black, Dark or Light opal
3. Transparency as opaque, translucent or transparent. Note if it is crystal opal.
4. Type of Treatment and process if known
5. Weight and dimensions
Composite Opal
1. Type of composite as doublet, triplet, mosaic or chip opal
2. Treatment process, where relevant
3. Dimensions
Synthetic and Imitation
1. Gemmological category including manufacturer (if known)
2. Description (Body Tone)
3. If composite, mention type as doublet, triplet, mosaic or chip
4. Weight and dimensions, only dimensions if composite

Origin
Any indication of the origin of opal by the use of geographical location should not be used unless it is qualified as an indication of the type of locality only as recommended by the International Confederation of Jewellery, Silverware, Diamonds, Pearls and Stones (CIBJO) such as Lightning Ridge type black opal.