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greenzaku's avatar

Opal vs. Opaline Glass

Rough opal 2cm long, Coober Pedy, South Australia

Opal is a hydrated sillicate composed of cristobalite and/or tridymite with amorphous sillica, and specimens with a lot of inner colour ('play of colour') are highly prized. Semiprecious 'potch' opal such as what is pictured here ([link]) can also be found in several shades and is an attractive and less expensive carving stone.

Manmade opaline glass is also frequently used in jewelry and inexpensive decorations as an inexpensive substitute. Often, pieces have small bubbles in them and swirls of different clarity. Bigger manmade stones will have the orange glow, but not all real opals will have that.

More information on opal can be found at:


Yes! This image is FREE for non-commercial use as stock, reference or manipulation. Please Note me for commercial use or citation in scientific publications.
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© 2009 - 2022 greenzaku
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Cammie-Pink's avatar
It looks so clean and clear. I love it!
lizziewriter's avatar
Neat photo and info. I'm currently trying to help someone find info on opaline. I haven't seen the specimen she got, and she's wondering if maybe it's glass. So I'm trying my usual mineral sources plus a general search & found your image here. Thanks!
greenzaku's avatar
Glad to be of help! :)
Undistilled's avatar
The presence of drilled holes is also a dead giveaway...nobody does that to real opal.

Actually, they do: [link] [link] .

And here's a company that drills their own precious opal beads: [link] (Australian Opals USA)

greenzaku's avatar
I see and stand corrected. LOL, I've been among Australian opals all the while and never saw someone drill into them '^_^
Undistilled's avatar
It's all good. Just keep in mind that almost every material is at some point made into a bead by someone somewhere - even if it's a really really bad idea to do so. Like those cinnabar beads.

greenzaku's avatar

I thought cinnabar was too crumbly?!
Undistilled's avatar
Some of it is, some of it isn't - depends on where it's found and what other minerals are mixed in. Cinnabar used to be a very popular carving material in Oriental cultures. It used to be that oriental beads were even created using cinnabar powder mixed with lacquer. I imagine powdered cinnabar to be even more toxic than the truly solid carving pieces.

Plus, just about anything can be stabilized these days, again even if it shouldn't be.
greenzaku's avatar
I have a polished, tumbled stone that is mostly grey with some red flecks, and it was labelled as cinnabar. Probably just the red then.
Undistilled's avatar
Likely just the red. :nod:
full-on-zombie's avatar
Oh my gosh...these are so pretty *_*

I need to fine some :heart:
greenzaku's avatar
The opaline glass you can probably find at any beading store, the actual opal...well if you really like we can work out some sort of deal ;)
ryukuku's avatar
greenzaku's avatar
Thanks! I might just upload the lower image on its own. :)
ryukuku's avatar
you're welcome!
that would look cool too.
greenzaku's avatar
Glad you like it.
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