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Beautiful Australian Opals

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About Opal
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Base Color
Brightness
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Cut, Inclusions and Weight
Fire Color
Doublets and Tripletts
Fire Pattern
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Some Large and Famous Opals
Types of Opals
 

Base Color of Opal

The term "base color" is often confused but it is really very simple. Think about looking at an opal and extinguishing all the fire colors coming from it. What remains is the base color of the stone. Base colors, sometimes called background colors, include black, semi-black, crystal, semi-crystal, white, gray, blue, orange, brown, boulder black and boulder brown. Base color is one of the four primary characteristics which determine an opal's value.

Base color of an opal is determined only by looking at the top of the stone. With your eye above the stone, look down at the face of the opal as it rest on your table. Notice that it has two color characteristics, the play of fire and a general base color. It is the general base color we wish to determine now.

Base color is actually a combination of three things: color or hue, body tone or saturation's, and transparency or clarity. A complete description of a stone requires mention of all three and each affects the stone's value.

Black Opal
A natural solid opal which is opaque when viewed from the top of the stone, and which has a play of color against a dark background graded as at least#3 Black on the Lightning Ridge Miners Association Tone Scale, is graded as a black opals. The back of the stone may be any color.
Black Crystal
A natural solid opal which is translucent to transparent with play of color which when viewed from the top is graded as at least#3 Black on the Lightning Ridge Miners Association Tone Scale.
Semi-Black
A solid opal which is translucent to opaque when viewed from the top and which has a play of color against a dark gray background corresponding to semi-black on the Lightning Ridge Miners Association Tone Scale.
Boulder Black
A natural boulder opal which has a play of color against a dark opaque background graded as at least #3 Black on the Lightning Ridge Miners Association Tone Scale.
Crystal Opal
a solid opal which is transparent showing a play of color and no base color.
Semi-Crystal
A solid opal which is translucent showing a play of color and a clear base color.
Gray Opal
A solid opal which is opaque or translucent showing a play of color on a gray base corresponding to the gray tones on the Lightning Ridge Miners Association Tone Scale.
White Opal
A solid opal which is opaque to translucent showing a play of color on a white to off-white base color as graded as a white opal.
Light Opal
In Australian, opal graded as crystal, semi-crystal, white or gray are all under a general category called "light opal."
Orange Opal
A solid opal which is translucent to opaque showing a play of color on an orange background. This type of opal would be called red opal or yellow opal depending on the base color.
Orange Crystal Opal
A solid opal which is transparent showing a play of color on an orange background. This type of opal would be called red crystal or yellow crystal depending on the base color. This is generally referred to as fire opal.
Brown Crystal
A solid opal which is transparent showing a play of color on a brown base color.
Jelly Opal
A solid opal which is transparent showing no play of color, but it may show an opalescence without a pattern. The orange material without a play of color from Mexico is frequently seen in faceted stones, and would be termed orange jelly, although it is also called fire opal in the industry. The blue jelly from Australia is sometimes called blue bottle potch.
Blue Opal
A solid opal which can be translucent to opaque with or without a play of color on a blue base color. The opaque blue common opal from the Andes is just call "blue opal." There is also a pink variety of this common opal.
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