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Beautiful Australian Opals

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About Opal
Getting Started
Base Color
Brightness
Consistency and Directionality
Cut, Inclusions and Weight
Fire Color
Doublets and Tripletts
Fire Pattern
Glossay of Terms
Natural, Synthetic, Etc
Myths and Legends
Opal Books
Opal Care
Opal Evaluation
Opal Pricing
Some Large and Famous Opals
Types of Opals
 

Pattern

Most opals have a pattern that fits into the flashfire or broad flashfire categories. Since there is very little difference in value for these patterns, the value of most stones is unaffected by pattern. The patterns which can significantly affect value are the unusual ones like harlequin and other rare patterns. The thing that makes each opal so unique, its pattern, usually is not a major contributor to its value.

While many names are fanciful and unique to the individual doing the naming, there are a set of commonly accepted names for fire patterns. These names are defined below:

Pinfire Small pinpoint circles of fire. When viewed from the side, this pattern often looks like the side of a stack of pins, while the top view looks like the pits of those pins, hence the name. The side view is called columnar fire.
Flashfire Larger areas of fire, usually irregular in shape. The splashes of fire can be fairly large but no one area would cover more than 50% of the surface of the opal.
Broad Flashfire Sheets of color usually covering a large section or all of the stone's surface.
Rolling Flashfire Sheets of color which roll across the surface of the stone as it is moved. This type of pattern is almost impossible to photograph but is highly prized.
Harlequin Square or angular blocks of fire set closely together. True harlequins, are rare indeed. Rare and unusual patterns that are not regular are also especially valued but not true harlequins.
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