Individual opals can vary widely in appearance and quality. As diverse as snowflakes or fingerprints, each gem can differ noticeably.
FIND A JEWELER
Submit your gemstone through your local jeweler.
FIND A REPORT
Verify the information on your report matches what is archived in the GIA report database.
What To Look For
There are three main aspects of an opal’s quality. Color refers to background color and play-of-color. Pattern is arrangement of play-of-color. Clarity means transparency and quantity of inclusions. Play-of-color might be the most spectacular aspect of an opal’s appearance.
Opal Quality Factors: The Comprehensive Guide
Tips & Advice
1. Find a jeweler who carries a wide variety of opal.
Commercial-quality white opal is affordable and available in almost any jewelry store. But before you decide what kind of opal you’d like to own, be sure to see some high quality unusual opals with dramatic play-of-color too.
2. Consider a doublet or triplet.
If you prefer the look of black opal or boulder opal but it doesn’t fit your budget, you also have the option of an opal doublet or triplet.
3. Don’t expose an opal to extreme light, heat, or dryness.
Opal has high water content. Although most opal is cured to make sure it won’t crack, it’s never a good idea to subject your opal to very dry or hot conditions.
4. The best pattern is the one you like best.
Buying fine opal is a bit like buying art. Every pattern of play-of-color is different; some bold, others delicate, some symmetrical, others dynamic. There is no wrong or right, so choose what appeals to you.
Questions & Answers
Is opal durable enough for rings?
Opal isn’t as hard as many gems, so it is vulnerable to scratches and chips. If you are tough on your jewelry, make sure you choose a protective setting with metal or gems surrounding the opal or consider your opal ring like silk: beautiful but requiring a bit more care than cotton.
Is opal from Lightning Ridge worth more?
Opal’s value is based on quality, not where it was mined. Fine opal comes from many different localities, including Lightning Ridge in Australia.
Should I store my opal in water?
Some people do store their opals in water. There’s no evidence that it prevents them from drying out but it can’t hurt them and might be a good idea if you live in a very dry climate. Jewelers often put a glass of water in their opal case to make sure that the lights don’t dry out the air too much.
Does GIA grade opal?
GIA evaluates opal but does not grade it. A GIA Colored Stone Identification Report assesses the characteristics of any polished, rough, mounted or loose material (weight, measurements, shape, cutting style and color); identifies whether it is natural or laboratory-grown; and names any detectable treatments.
Find out moreOpal: Questions & Answers
Caring for Your Opal
Keep your opal beautiful by following simple care and cleaning guidelines.
Opal is a gem suitable for jewelry but requires care when wearing to not scratch or break the stone.
Care and Cleaning
Warm soapy water is always safe.
Opals can be treated by impregnation with oil, wax, or plastic, and by surface modifications.