Precious opals are an exceptionally popular gemstone. They're valued highly because of their uniqueness and the many different colors that can appear within each gemstone. However, because of the high value, fake opals are also being sold as real gems on the market, making it hard to tell if your opal is real.
To help you spot fake opals and ensure that you're buying a real gemstone, check out these seven ways to tell if an opal is real!
1. Feel the Stone Surface
When looking at a plain opal in its raw form, you can only tell that it's not a fake by running your fingers across the stone. If there are no traces of paint or pigment, then it's a sign that the stone is real.
Also, if you rub your fingers over the opal surface, it should not scratch off easily. The surface should feel velvety soft but may feel rough if it's poorly cut. Opal should be clear and shiny.
A trick for checking the clarity of opal is to hold it up against bright light and look through it with one eye closed. If you hold the stone up and it has a muted appearance, then there's a good chance that it might be synthetic.
On the other hand, a properly cut opal will show flashes of color and some fire, which will look like sparks inside the stone. Real opals should always reflect light brightly.
3. Color Play
Play with your opals in different light settings and see how the colors change. If it's only slightly playing with its colors in a dark room, then it might be dyed or heat treated, but if the colors are clearly vibrant in both a bright and dark room, then that's probably a real one!
4. Fire pattern
The surface will form fire patterns when a gemstone is heated to high temperatures. These fire patterns are caused by gasses and other compounds escaping from the gemstone during heating.
The different types of opals will develop different fire patterns depending on the material they're made up of. Fire patterns in fake opals tend to be dull and indistinct.
However, fire patterns for real opals can vary. For example, some white opals may have black spots or bars with a yellow background, which can sometimes look like flames or fiery colors.
5. Treatment Quality
Precious opals have a variety of colors that flash from blue, pink, gold, green, and yellow.
The best-quality opals will show a rainbow of colors when light shines on them from various angles. However, lower-quality ones might just show one color or nothing at all.
6. Origin Country
Opals are mined in different locations worldwide, but most are found in Australia. In addition to their gorgeous appearance, opals often have spectacular patterns, making them the perfect gemstone for those who enjoy looking at designs and images in color.
Australia has about 50% of the world's supply of opals and offers more than a hundred varieties, including everything from amethysts to fire opals.
An opal gemstone often contains a window-like area in the middle of the stone. The transparent, or translucent, region will be either greenish blue or milky white.
To check for transparency, hold your stone so you can see it on both sides. You may have a fake opal if it looks different on each side.
At Scott & Co. Fine Jewelers, we want our customers to feel confident and comfortable with their purchases. We offer a variety of opals, including Australian black and white opals.
If you are unsure about the authenticity of your opal or want to make sure it's real, give us a call! We are here to help.