Opal, a Phenomenal gem

Play of Colour is a phenomenon displayed by Opals wherein light is broken up by the presence of Silica spheres in the chemical composition of an Opal thereby producing the various flashes of colour.

Play of Colour seen on Opals

The first Opal to be found was by accident in Australia and since then has never been considered a mistake again. These precious stones are found around the globe in various locations and are formed because of silica rich soil, which is a byproduct of fossil and fish bones etc.


It is now a very rare stone and its value is dependent on the flashes of colour seen in an Opal. High value stones are those stones with colours like Reds, Greens and Blues that stand out from the body colour of the stone.

These days with Black Opal being one of the most rare Gemstones as noted by the gem hunters in The Game of Stones, these stones can command upto $2300 per carat.


Over all these years Opals grew in popularity because of the Art Deco period where jewellery designers used bold colours in their jewellery and Opals seemed to compliment their designs with its colourful spectrum.

When looking to buy Opals beware of synthetic Opal that is predominantly available in the market with bright flashes of colour. Natural Opals are known to have:

  1. Tiny Patches of flashes of colour called PINFIRE
  2. Larger brushstrokes of flashes of colour called HARLEQUIN

These flashes of colour can been seen when the stone is moved and might contain areas with mineral inclusions or might lack any play of colour, indicating the stone is natural.
Synthetic stones have been seen to have a well distributed play of colour and could resemble a ‘Snakeskin’ appearence.

With all this talk about Opals, I seem to be left speechless by these pieces of jewellery created by designers in different corners of the world. What’s amazing is that each designer does not fail to bring out the gemstones breathtaking Play of Colour.