Q: What is the difference between a solid, doublet, and triplet opal?

What is the difference between a solid, doublet, and triplet opal?





Solid, doublet, and triplet opals are terms used to describe the structure and composition of opal gemstones. Here are the differences between them:

1. **Solid Opal**:
   - Comprised entirely of opal material from top to bottom.
   - It is the most natural form of opal jewelry and is generally considered more valuable than doublets or triplets because it's pure opal.
   - It can be cut and shaped into a cabochon (a gemstone that has been polished but not faceted) or other shapes for setting in jewelry.

2. **Opal Doublet**:
   - Consists of two layers.
   - The top layer is a layer of precious opal.
   - The bottom layer is usually made of a darker material like potch (non-precious opal), obsidian, or in the case of World Class Opal, we use Queensland opal boulder ironstone.
   - These two layers are epoxied together. The darker backing enhances the play-of-color in the opal, making it appear more vibrant.

3. **Opal Triplet**:
   - Composed of three layers.
   - The top layer is a clear, domed piece made of quartz or another transparent material. This acts as a protective layer and can magnify the opal underneath.
   - The middle layer is a very thin slice of precious opal.
   - The bottom layer, like in a doublet, is a darker backing material.
   - The three layers are glued together to create the triplet.

**Reasons for Creating Doublets and Triplets**:
- **Enhanced Appearance**: The dark backing in both doublets and triplets can make the colors of the thin opal slice more pronounced.
- **Durability**: The added layers, especially the protective cap in triplets, can provide additional protection to the delicate opal.
- **Economy**: Doublets and triplets use less precious opal than solid opals, making them more affordable.

It is widely accepted as an industry standard that a doublet should sell for roughly 10% of the price of a solid black opal of equivalent appearance, whereas triplets are more sold by the piece.

When purchasing opal jewelry, it's essential to understand these differences, as the type of opal (solid, doublet, or triplet) can significantly influence its value and care requirements.