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So, are you going to purchase an opal while you are in Lightning ridge? Well, there is probably no better place in the world for doing so. At Lightning Ridge sellers display both local stones and opal from other Australian fields. Let us first look at the types of opal available.
The doublet is a slice of precious opal glued onto a backing of non-precious opal called "potch". Sometimes glass or ceramic is used for the backing. If the slice of precious opal is very thin the face of the doublet will be flat. If the slice of precious opal is thick enough the top will be domed. Domed opal are more valuable than flat doublets of equal colour. Not all doublets on sale are made from Lightning Ridge Opal.
The triplet is simply a flat doublet with a domed, clear quartz top glued to it. The colour of the thin slice of precious opal is dispersed through and slightly magnified by the domed quartz face. It is easy to pick a triplet from a domed doublet for, viewed side on, the clearness of the quartz top can be seen. The quartz face of a triplet is harder, and therefore longer wearing than natural opal and, for this reason, is often favoured for ring stones. Most of the worlds triplets are made from South Australian opal but some made from local opal are available at Lightning Ridge
opal3. CRYSTAL
The connoisseur of opal always purchases a "solid". High quality solids are often referred to as "stones". One type of solid is all precious opal and is known as "crystal" opal. Crystals may be light, semi-black or black depending on the density of the colour. The very rare black crystal is indeed a beautiful stone. good crystal may vary in price between 200 and 1800 dollars a carat but poorer quality crystal are readily available at reasonable prices.
The most important stone of all is the solid with a precious face and a natural potch backing. Those with light coloured backs are known as light opal: with darkish backs as semi-black opal: and those with a jet-black backs are the famous Lightning ridge black opals. Whilst of this type are readily available at prices as low as $50 each, a "stone of top quality black opal will realise over $3000 per carat.
If you are looking for an inexpensive opal, for pleasure reasons only, the matter is simple. You just shop around until you see one that you like the look of, at a price you can afford, and you buy it. It is better to own an opal that you really like than to buy an opal that , although you do not particularly like it, is good value for the money. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the one you like may not be liked by your friends, but then you may not be so keen on your friends choice. Do not be influenced by the "experts" that abounds in plenty at Lightning Ridge.

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Last Update Pre 2006