Monday, April 1, 2013

Opal Doublets and Triplets

Recently I purchased opal doublets for my bead store and so I wanted to write a post explaining what they are, and about their care.  I hope you find this interesting and informative.  

Opal doublets are slices of opal glued to a black backing, designed to imitate the appearance of a solid black opal. Adhering the slice of opal to a black backing causes the color to become much darker and more vibrant.

Doublets can usually be identified by looking at the side of the opal - if the stone has been adhered together you will notice that the line where the colored opal and the black backing meet is perfectly straight. This is necessary for the two layers to be adhered together. If a doublet is set into jewellery with the sides covered, it is extremely difficult, even for an expert, to tell whether it is a doublet or a solid opal. Since the top of the stone consists of pure opal, it therefore appears exactly like a black opal, and thus have a natural appearance.

Opal doublets can be a fantastic alternative to solid stones as they are much cheaper than solid black opals. Solid opals with the same appearance as an opal can be ten times the price as they are rare and valuable, therefore they serve a useful purpose in making beautiful dark opals affordable. However, you need to be aware of what you are buying, and know how to correctly care for doublets to avoid water damage.

VERY IMPORTANT CARE INSTRUCTIONS: Because opal doublets consist of layers which are glued together, prolonged exposure to water may cause lifting between the layers and infiltration of water. (This does not mean your opal will be ruined if you wear it in the shower once, or are caught in the rain.) If water penetration occurs, a doublet or triplet will take on a 'foggy' or grey appearance. You may even notice the appearance of condensation inside the stone. You should avoid getting a doublet opal wet to avoid water penetration.

Doublets may be wiped with a damp soft cloth and mild detergent, but should never be soaked or immersed. Avoid bleach, chemicals, cleaners, and ultrasonic cleaners.

 An opal triplet has three layers. Gem opal (usually a very thin slice) is sandwiched between a piece of dark backing material and a cap of transparent quartz. The transparent cap protects the opal layer and adds depth to the triplet.  The same care should be given to the opal triplet because of the glued layers. 

A solid opal is more valuable than a doublet of similar color, pattern, brilliance and size; and an opal doublet is more valuable than an opal triplet of similar appearance.

(some information shared from 

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