What is Crystal Opal?
Crystal Opals are transparent opals found in Coober Pedy, Lightning Ridge and other smaller mining towns including Mintabie and White Cliffs. Transparency in the opals means that if you shine a light to the opal, you will be able to see through it; the body tone of the opal is not solid. On the opal body tone scale a crystal opal is found at N8 and N9.
Lightning Ridge Crystal Opal
Whilst Lightning Ridge is a predominantly black opal discovery area, crystal opal is also often found in the regions mining efforts. Typically, you can tell the difference between Coober Pedy Crystal and Lightning Ridge Crystal if you work with both kinds of opal long enough; there are distinct patterns and colors evident in each locations type of crystal. There are two types of Crystal Opals from Lightning Ridge; Standard Crystal Opals with a body tone of N8 and N9, and Black Crystal Opals with a black body tone base (transparent black opals). There are some spectacular patterns that can be found in Lightning Ridge Crystal Opals including Chaff Patterns, Digital Patterns and Flashy Directional Patterns. Actually; any pattern that can be found in a Black Opal can be found in a Crystal or Black Crystal opal from Lightning Ridge, however the ones mentioned are much more common.
Coober Pedy Crystal Opal
The predominant supplier of crystal opal in the world is Coober Pedy. Coober Pedy is the worlds largest opal town and a major draw card for Australian tourism. The region of Coober Pedy has discovered both Crystal and White Opals. Crystal Opal from Coober Pedy is a popular choice by Jewellers around the world. Coober Pedy Crystal Opals have an N8 and N9 body tone. Some very bright material has been discovered in Coober Pedy. In general, Coober Pedy opals are very much affordable within the gemstone market.
What is Crystal Opal used for and what is it worth?
Crystal Opals are ideal for bezel settings as the bezel will trap the light into the opal to show its best colours and patterns. These include rings, earrings and even pendants for larger sized crystals. Crystal Opals are used in non bezel settings as well, however this is not as good a choice as bezel as it will not show the best colors and pattern of the opal. The value of crystal opals are generally lower than other types of opals. Like all opals however, there are some very high value crystal opals with very bright rainbow colors and unusual patterns.