Boulder Opal vs. Doublet Opal

When it comes to opals, a number of terminologies have confused many, and this has made it difficult for them to pick one that perfectly suits them. To some of you, the difference between a Boulder Opal and an Opal Doublet may seem obvious at first. However, did you know some Opal Doublets are made using Boulder Opal? Confusing right. Lets take a look at the differences between these two types of Opals and then disucess why there is confusion.

It is important that you remember that there a number of other opals, but for the purpose of this piece, we will take a look at the boulder and doublet opals.

Boulder Opals Vs Doublet Opal – Why The Confusion

What you may have noticed that there are many cases where these two Opal types are mentioned together. Lets summarise:

  • Opal Doublets – Created using a thin layer of Opal that is glued to a backing. This backing is usually ironstone which is found in Boulder Opal.
  • Bolder Opal – These can look like Opal Doublets. During he cutting phase, the precious opal is left on the iron stone back to create a durable and hard Opal

Boulder Opals vs. Doublet Opals; Differences

Boulder Opal

This is currently the second most valuable opal behind the solid opal. It has thin veins and is cut in such a way that the natural ironstone remains or stays as a backing to the veins of the opal. Basically, boulder opal is a dark brown stone that gives the opal this natural, vivid and dark color. The color of this stone is one of the main reasons why it is amongst the most valuable stones. It is capable of complimenting all skin complexions, at the same time giving you this amazing look and feel. Interestingly, it helps give you a fashion statement and would definitely leave an impression on anyone that sees it.

Often times, boulder opal has been called the “natural doublet,” and this is because when cutting the jewelry, the ironstone is left behind the opal. Unlike most of the other stones, the boulder opal does not have adhesives nor potent chemicals. Ironstone is used to naturally surround the stone. The natural veins in the stone are why this opal is divided or cut into may irregular shapes and sizes. You will find it surprising to know that this ironstone is hardly oval-shaped like the others and the only time it is oval-shaped is when it is left surrounding other opals.

Although boulder opal is small in size, it is easily distinguished from the crowd and also recognizable because its solid ironstone is not used or seen often. Unlike most of the other opals, boulder opal is mined from a number of large ironstone boulders. The veins come in cracks and fissures and are capable of displaying any color aesthetically and beautifully. While this stone may look a little like the doublet, its formation and pattern help distinguish it from the less valuable and cheaper doublet opal. While most of the boulder opals come in different appearances, there a number of others that are quite dark and this is because of the dark backing. The dark and rich tone of the boulder opal has made most people confuse it for black opals

Surprisingly, a carat of the boulder opal could be worth about $3,000. While it is quite expensive, the beauty and shine make it one of the best gems that anyone can have. If you are planning on getting a boulder opal, it is of essence that you know that the clean-faced opals are more valuable than the spotted opals.

The origin of the boulder opal can be traced back to Australia. Currently, they are found in Queensland, Australia. Some of the other fields where boulder opals may be found include; Quilpie and Winton.

Doublet Opal

Just as the name implies, doublet opal is basically a thin layer of opal that is glued or adhered to a backing. It is currently one of the most common opals, and it was made from opals that were almost too thin to create a solid opal. When compared to the boulder opal, doublets are quite cheap, meaning that you can spend less for more.

One of the main differences between the boulder opal and the doublet opal is that the former has incredible patterns and brightness and this is why it has gained a reputation for being one of the most used stones in the industry. Since opals do not actually come in matching sets, doublet opals help create those matching sets.

If you are still not sure what a doublet opal is, we’ll use an illustration to buttress the point. Let’s say you take a slightly thin piece of opal and have it glued to a highly thick backing. When not set into a piece of jewelry, doublet opals are easy to identify. All you have to look at would be the side of the opal. If in the event that the opal has been set into a piece of jewelry, it becomes extremely difficult to identify it. This is because the top is made up of opal and most times even experts and newbies alike have confused it for the more valuable black opal. While we mentioned that the slice of a doublet opal is quite thin, you will find it surprising to know that it is not as thin as that of a triplet opal.

boulder opal vs doublet opal

The nature of doublet opal is one of the main reasons why it is used in various ways. Currently, it is being used to make earrings, pendants, and rings. The sole reason for this is that it comes in matching sets. As mentioned earlier, this sets it apart from not just boulder opal but from most of the other ironstones available.

When the doublet opal is used to make pieces of jewelry, it tends to have bessel sets which hide or protect the meeting point between the thick backing and the stone. The Bessel set does not just hide the meeting point or join, it also protects it, thus, making the piece of jewelry sturdy and long lasting. Finally, the Bessel set helps to give others the illusion that it is a black opal.

Like the boulder opal, doublet opal was produced in Australia and manufacturers initially used a crystal opal and a black potch.




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