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All About Opal

Written by Quick Jewelry Repairs
October 15, 2016

There is a very wide variety of opal types out there in the gemstone world (and even in outer space!) Today we want to go through some of the types of opal you might come across and what makes each one unique.

Boulder Opal – This is one of our favorite types of opal because it has such a unique look.  As the name suggests, boulder opals are mined from large ironstone boulders that occur below the ground.  As these stones crack and shift, opal veins form in the openings, creating a gorgeous, psychedelic appearance.

boulder opal

Boulder Opal

Mexican Fire Opal This is one of the few types of opal that isn’t found in Australia. Its name is slightly confusing; while the word fire might imply a strong play-of-color (the unique colorful sparkle visible in typical opal), it’s actually a reference to the shades this particular opal comes in, such as red, yellow, and orange. In fact, Mexican fire opal usually does not display play of color, and is often cut into faceted gems.

fire opal

Fire Opal

Jelly Opal – A transparent or translucent form of opal, this stone is usually darker than the crystal opal, with a bluish sheen to it.  They are named for the way their play-of-color appears to roll through the stone as opposed to shifting on the surface.

jelly opal

Jelly Opal

Peruvian OpalBlue in hue, this opal is one of the few that doesn’t usually demonstrate the play-of-color most opals are known for.  Instead, it’s often opaque, and a stunning shade at that. The lack of translucency means that this opal is cut into cabochons, or flat-backed stones.

peruvian opal

Peruvian Opal, credit @ Wikimedia Commons

White Opal – The most common color out of all opals, white opals usually have a body color of white or cream.  Like most opals, it’s often found in Australia, especially in Coober Pedy in the south. This type of opal is widely available on the market in both its genuine and artificially enhanced forms.

white opal

White Opal, credit @ Wikimedia Commons

Crystal Opal This form of opal is transparent or translucent, with vibrant play-of-color in the middle.  It’s perhaps most similar to the white opal, but often shows its play-of-color primarily in blue and violet shades. It bears a resemblance to the jelly opal, but has a stronger coloration and less of a muted glow in comparison.



Crystal Opal

Which type of opal is your favorite?  Let us know in the comments below!

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Can you tell me what kind of opal this is? It was purchased in the late 60’s


Based on the image only, best guess would be Australian – naturally, this won’t be possible to verify without evaluating the piece in person. If you’d like to purchase an appraisal to assess your opal’s value and qualities, then you can do so here. Please also let us know anything else with which we can assist! 🙂