Gemstone Color is often the most important factor in determining a gem’s value. Opals may display one or two colors or an entire rainbow. Opals are defined by the background color upon which the magical play-of-color dances. If the body of the opal is transparent, color patches can be seen below the surface. The main types of opals are:
Black Opal: Black opals have a dark body that ranges from translucent to opaque. The contrast of opalescent rainbows shimmering against a dark background makes these gems highly sought after.
White Opal: Sometimes called light opals, these light opals have a white or light grey body with iridescent flashes characteristic of opals.
Crystal Opal: Crystal opals, also called water opals, are colorless and transparent to semi transparent with a rich play of color.
Fire Opal: Also called sun opals, these gems have a yellow, orange or red body, sometimes with a vibrant green to lavender play of color.
Boulder Opal: Boulder opals range from translucent to opaque with a stunning play of color. These opals contain fragments of the surrounding rock in the finished piece.
Look for an opal that has a brilliant luster and a beautiful pattern — also known as the arrangement of the play-of-color. Types of opal patterns include:
Pinpoint: Identifiable by small, closely-set patches of color.
Harlequin: Large, angular patches of color are signatures of harlequin opals.
Flame: Sweeping reddish strokes fly across these gems.
Peacock: Opals with mainly blue and green patches of color.